When I was paying $600 for prescription eyeglasses, I couldn’t afford to own more than one pair. But these days, there are many budget-friendly options when it comes to eyeglasses shopping. In fact, I now own two pairs of prescription glasses and one pair of prescription sunglasses for less than what I would have paid for one pair of glasses at the local optician’s shop just a few years ago.
What’s great is that now you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to shop for eyeglasses and sunglasses. Major online retailers let you do a virtual try-on by simply uploading a photo of yourself so that you can get an idea of how various frames will fit your face. Better yet, some retailers will actually send you frames to try on. The only catch: You have to mail them back.
Take Warby Parker, for instance. In addition to a virtual try-on, Warby Parker offers a home try-on program in which you go online, select up to five frames and have them sent to you via UPS. You can keep the frames for five days, which should give even the most indecisive person plenty of time to make a decision. Then you just have to put the glasses back into the box they were shipped to you in and mail them back to Warby Parker. And it won’t cost you a thing—Warby Parker will provide you with a prepaid return shipping label.
If you decide to buy any of the frames, you simply go to the retailer’s website and fill out an order form. You will need to know your prescription, so see your local ophthalmologist or optometrist ahead of time for an eye exam. Make sure the doctor measures and provides you with your pupillary distance. Whether you’re ordering from Warby Parker or any of the other retailers mentioned in this piece, you’ll have to note this information, which helps ensure a proper frame fit.
Warby Parker, which is where I got all of my aforementioned frames, sells prescription eyeglasses for $95, nonprescription sunglasses for $95 and prescription sunglasses for $150. And for every pair of glasses purchased, Warby Parker provides a pair to someone in need through its support of nonprofit groups such as VisionSpring.
Clockwise, from left: Welty, Seymour and Nash
Warby Parker’s frames are stylish and well-made, and they’re always rolling out something different. In fact, if you want to beat the winter doldrums with a fresh pair of specs, feast your eyes on Warby Parker’s Winter 2013 Collection, which offers new shapes and amazing new colors. The Welty ($95) comes in a pretty shade of plum marblewood; the Seymour ($95) is available in a lovely sage, which is especially flattering if you have green eyes; and the Nash ($95) comes in a smart greystone.
Willing to spend a little more for a unique look? Warby Parker’s new line with stylist Leith Clark includes some gorgeous specs with vintage flair. My favorite, the Aurora ($145), is a shade called daughter of pearl and features rimless lenses. Unfortunately, it recently sold out. For a vastly different look, try the oversized cobalt leaf Marva ($145) frames. FYI: A percentage from each sale of glasses in the Warby Parker/Leith Clark line will be donated to Girl Up, a campaign mounted by the United Nations Foundation to fund programs around the world benefiting girls.
Mezzmer is another online retailer that not only offers a virtual try-on but will also send you up to five pairs of glasses to check out at home. On the fifth day, you have to send the glasses back in a box provided by Mezzmer, and the company pays for the return shipping. You can also choose from one of five charities (Helen Keller International, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Animal Welfare Institute, Action Against Hunger/ACF International and Big Brothers Big Sisters) to which Mezzmer will donate a portion of your purchase.
Mezzmer sells both prescription eyeglasses and nonprescription sunglasses starting at $69, and there are a lot of interesting frames to choose from.
Drawn to nerdy glasses? The Big Easy ($69) are thick, chunky frames that go from black to clear.
Audrey (left) and Billie
The Audrey ($69), available in cognac as well as black, has a more slender and delicate profile, and the quirky Billie ($69) frame is available in an eye-catching purple.
All of the above Mezzmer frames are sold as sunglasses, too, for $69 a pair plus another $50 if you want prescription lenses.
Like its competitors, Lookmatic will also send you up to five frames to try on at home, and it will cover return shipping costs as well. You can also use Lookmatic’s virtual try-on feature.
Prescription eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses cost $95 at Lookmatic. And if you want a pair of nonprescription sunglasses, they will only set you back $65.
Clockwise, from left: Ace, Bel Air and Uncle Leonard
Lookmatic specializes in retro and vintage frames. If pink is your color, the old-school Ace ($95) might be the frame for you. A brilliant blue makes the Bel Air ($95) a standout, and the Uncle Leonard ($95) features a clear frame.
By the way, you aren’t taking a risk shopping online for glasses: All of the above retailers will accept returns within 30 days if you are unhappy with your purchase.
Warby Parker: Check out the latest discounts from Warby Parker. Shipping and exchanges are free in the contiguous U.S.
Mezzmer: Save 15% off your order. And if you like Mezzmer on Facebook, you can gain access to an exclusive buy one, get one for 50% off coupon. Shipping is free on all U.S. orders.
Lookmatic: Get 30% off any order. Enjoy free four- to five-day shipping via USPS.