Today I’d like to tell you all about my recent adventures in buying eyeglasses. I know! You’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation!
Once upon a time I wrote this little piece and basically begged you to consider glasses one of those must-have, must-pay-for sorts of items. “Do not go cheap!” I told you. “You get what you pay for!” I insisted.
Due to various factors, I decided to challenge my own notion that this was the gospel truth. I had read many sources extolling the virtues of Zenni Optical, where glasses start at just $8 for a complete pair. What did I have to lose, really? I would consider it an experiment. And so that’s what I did.
The truth of the matter is that I decided to do this after going to our touted optical place here in town and having them mess up not just my glasses, but my husband’s, as well. I ordered two pairs of glasses from them for quite a bit of money, and one pair was put together poorly and badly scratched (and they claimed was the last of that frame, and so couldn’t be replaced) and the other pair just never fit right. I don’t want to tell you how many trips I made to their store, trying to get it fixed. Finally I returned both pairs, got a different frame for my computer glasses (because I was in dire, dire need of computer glasses), and went on my way, vowing to try out Zenni, instead.
And here’s what happened: Of course, I found myself checking out the more expensive frames at Zenni, in general, but even those were still vastly cheaper than anything at the local optical place. In fact, I ordered four pairs of glasses from Zenni for a grand total of less than half what the first defective pair from the local place had cost me.
Let’s go through them, shall we?
With every pair I purchased, I paid close attention to the dimensions given on the site, and compared those to the dimensions of glasses we already had. When you can’t try something on, you have to use the numbers to get an idea of their size.
The first thing I ordered from Zenni was a pair of sunglasses for my 9-year-old daughter. We selected this frame for her, which is a memory titanium, at a cost of under $30 complete. My daughter wears a very strong prescription and the lenses on her glasses are very thick. This was the first pair I opened and I thought the lenses looked even thicker than usual, which didn’t thrill me. (Note: Her glasses are teeny tiny, and with a prescription as strong as hers, it’s hard to make tiny lenses thin.) She, however, loves them. They appear to be virtually indestructible, too. (You can wind the earpieces around your finger and they’ll spring back into shape.) They came out of the case needing no adjustment and fitting perfectly. Verdict: Thumbs way up.
Let’s pause for a second while I show you these frames here. These are the computer glasses I bought from the local place. They cost me over a hundred dollars, and in addition to being the color of a grape Otter Pop (mmmm… Otter Pops), they don’t have anti-glare coating, as you can see from the reflections in the lenses. Anti-glare coating is good for your eyes and reduces eye strain and fatigue, but I didn’t get it because they wanted another $40 for it. I’m showing you these glasses for two reasons: One, to tell you how much the coating generally costs, and two, to say that I liked the shape and fit of these glasses enough that I used their dimensions to help me pick the glasses you’ll see below. Moving on….
The first thing I looked for was a frame for another set of computer glasses, because I really wanted a pair with anti-glare coating, and guess how much the coating cost when you get it at Zenni! Go on, guess! Yep, $4.95 a pair. That’s it. A total bargain at that price, no? I chose this frame for $12.95, and you can see them on me right here. This pair needed a bit of adjusting—they were a bit crooked, out of the case. And they’re probably my least favorite-looking of the lot, but they’re fine. The prescription and coating are perfect. Verdict: Thumbs up, because for under $20 they’re perfectly fine.
Next, I decided to pick out two pairs of distance glasses. Given all the money I was saving, I decided to go for a kind of wild pair, and picked these frames which you can see on me right here. These were my most expensive purchase, coming in at just over $30 complete with the anti-glare coating. They fit well and the prescription and coating are fine. The color turned out to be a bit different than it appeared from the website—a little more muted—but in general, I can’t complain. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to wear these every day, but they’re fun and I like them. Verdict: Thumbs up.
For a more “regular” pair of everyday glasses, I ended up selecting this pair, which you can see on me right here. They were under $18 with the anti-glare coating. Again, the prescription is perfect, and it’s worth noting that the lenses were cut really well. What do I mean by this? Well, this was my only semi-rimless pair, and there is a huge disparity in my prescription between my eyes. My right eye is much worse, and I’ve often shied away from rimless frames because lenses that aren’t cut with care yield a right lens three times as thick as the left. I was pleased to discover that my right lens was only nominally thicker than the left, which tells me that some care was put into assembling these. This pair required a little big of adjusting of the nose pads, but other than that were perfect. I’m not sure if I really like these or not—they’re a lot bigger than my last everyday pair—but in terms of assembly, they’re flawless. Verdict: Thumbs way up.
The good news is that shipping from Zenni Optical is just $4.95 regardless of how many pairs you order. The bad news is that I suspect they ship your glasses via slow boat from the Arctic Circle, as it took over two weeks for the order to arrive. It’s hard to complain when you’re only paying five bucks for shipping, though.
Bottom line? I would (and will) order from Zenni again. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s a great, cheap option. In fact, I asked my pal Susan Wagner—guru of all things style—to please grace us with some discussion of picking out glasses and how/when they are an actual fashion accessory, because at prices like these, you can afford a few pairs. Susan’s post is now up over here, if you’re interested in some optical fashion advice.
And I officially take back what I said about ordering online. I’m a Zenni convert now.