Anyone every buy eyeglasses from one of those online places?

Brownie

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Me being a luddite when it comes to online stuff like this I don't like it, but have no choice. The coating on my glasses crazed and it's like looking through a fog. Under my insurance I am due lenses each year (right now), but frames every two years (3 months away). If I buy lenses now to fit my frames and the frames break in a year they may not be able to put the lenses in new frames if the model is discontinued, and I'd be out $200. If I buy a complete set now I'd be 100% out of pocket for the frames. The cheapest I can get out right now is the aforementioned $200, which would be fine if I knew the life of the frames.

My son just bought some glasses from eyebuydirect.com and they turned out fine. In my case I have progressive lenses so I'm a bit concerned about the outcome. After a call to their CS it sounds like there should be no issue, and if the alignment is off they have a 14 day return policy with a method to correct the alignment. The total cost for my glasses with the antiglare-scratch/photochromatic/progressive was $103 after the 20% off 'welcome' discount. Of course you can spend hundreds more, but the idea is a spare set to hold me over until I can get new ones next year.

Does anyone have any experience with these types of places? I know it's after the fact but I had to get them ordered.
 

Baenwort

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My wife and mother-inlaw use one called Zenni Optical for thiers and for the price they are great.

I only use them as temps to fill gaps as our optometrist is a friend and I don't want a dozen frames to switch between.

They work fine but don't fit as well on my face as the ones sized and adjusted for me.
 

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This is a coincidental topic since the wife and I have literally just returned from our 2 yearly eye test, some £700 lighter for the experience too. No is my answer, but perhaps I should have done.

I know people that have bought online and have been generally happy, but my glasses are the first thing I grab in the morning and the last thing I put down at night so I want them to the right fit for me and that’s easier with a local service.
 

Stringer

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My son-in-law is an optometrist he says the most important parts when ordering on line is to know who makes the lens and what model you are getting. Claims there are only about five manufacturers that are worth buying from. Also coating on todays quality lens should not degrade during the life of the lens.
 

Brownie

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my glasses are the first thing I grab in the morning and the last thing I put down at night so I want them to the right fit for me and that’s easier with a local service.
Same here, but being in my early 60's I have to wonder if it's 'easier' with a local service or just more familiar? I've been on their site this morning looking at a pair of single (distance) vision sunglasses are about $50, and it was easy. Once I set up my profile the prescription and everything automatically fills in.
 

Brownie

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My son-in-law is an optometrist he says the most important parts when ordering on line is to know who makes the lens and what model you are getting. Claims there are only about five manufacturers that are worth buying from. Also coating on todays quality lens should not degrade during the life of the lens.
The coating didn't degrade, the problem is heat. They must have expanded quickly sometime in the last several weeks and the anti-reflective coating and lenses moved at different speeds. This is fairly well documented on line. It's the second time from the second optometrist that this has happened, both plastic lenses. It never happened with glass. I am likely going to go back to glass for my daily wear.
 

PeeBee

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Same here, but being in my early 60's I have to wonder if it's 'easier' with a local service or just more familiar? I've been on their site this morning looking at a pair of single (distance) vision sunglasses are about $50, and it was easy. Once I set up my profile the prescription and everything automatically fills in.

Definitely easier. I tried maybe 6 frames to find the ones that fit best today, how can you do that online? Also, I had a few issues with my current glasses when they were new. It was just a 5 minute drive and maybe 15 minute wait to get them fixed rather than days to return by post. I can’t work without my glasses and can’t go days without them.
 

Brownie

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Definitely easier. I tried maybe 6 frames to find the ones that fit best today, how can you do that online? Also, I had a few issues with my current glasses when they were new. It was just a 5 minute drive and maybe 15 minute wait to get them fixed rather than days to return by post. I can’t work without my glasses and can’t go days without them.
I admit that's a lingering question that won't be answered until they come. However, they provide measurements that you compare to your current glasses. They say 2-3mm in each direction from your current won't have any adverse affect. So, all things being equal there wouldn't be any difference in fit. That is definitely different than when I go locally where I just try them on until you find a pair like you did. Since you can search for specific sizes, styles, colors, shapes, and even set your measurement parameters it narrows down the choices to only what will work for you. They also have a 'try me on' feature that superimposes the frames over your face so you can see about how they'll look. I found it pretty intuitive and complete. They also have frames with a 2-day delivery for an additional $19 if it was an emergency.

With their 14-day return policy I didn't see any reason not to give it a try once. If it doesn't work, no harm/no foul.
 

Michael Meissner

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Warning, this will get somewhat long.

I've bought eyeglasses from Zenni Optical for the last 3 years or so. In terms of the glasses I've gotten, I've been satisfied with the quality of the glasses. I've ordered single prescription, bi-focal, and progressive. While the progressive glasses were ok, I've come to the conclusion that progressive glasses just don't work for me. With my current prescription, I've bought 3 glasses:
  • Computer + reading bi-focals with a photo-chromatic coating;
  • Distance + reading bi-focals with a photo-chromatic coating; (and)
  • Polarized sun-glasses that are distance + reading with a silver mirror tint.
The only thing that was a minor fail for me is they have a new anti-fog coating. With wearing masks for Covid, I've had the problem of glasses fogging up. Zenni just started selling an anti-fog coating for the glasses. I took the plunge and ordered my last set with the coating. I found in practice, it just didn't work. You need to use a special cloth the activate the coating, and you have to do it 10 times before going out each day, but even after the coating was applied, I found my glasses still fogging up from wearing a mask. Zenni sells anti-fog wipes that work with non-treated glasses, and these wipes work a little bit better, but it is still not a complete solution.

There are some things that I wish they did that they don't do:
  • I wish Zenni did tri-focals, and not just bi-focals;
  • I wish Zenni could replace lenses in existing glasses;
  • Zenni doesn't do the blue-light coating with bi-focals, only single prescription and progressives;
  • I'm just starting to investigate FL-41 glasses for migraine relief, and I wish Zenni did them (only 3 companies seem to make FL-41 glasses, which block specific wave lengths of light that are the most problematical);
  • Zenni does do photo-chromatic glasses, but it isn't as good as the higher priced Transistions brand (which is a Luxxotica company), but on the other hand, it is a lot cheaper than Transistions;
  • I wish they did true wrap-around glasses for sunglasses; (and)
  • I am rather particular about the frame -- I abhor 'designer' frames with designer prices (Ray Ban, etc.). Zenni has a bunch of frames in various price points ($8 to $50 or so), that are a lot less than the designer frames. After growing up as a nerd in the 1970's, my frame of choice is metal avaitors for indoor glasses (plastic frames are preferred for sunglasses so they don't get as hot if left in a car). However, with metal glasses, I've come to prefer a style that has an integrated nose piece (like you get in many plastic frames) instead of nose pads. This frame style is evidently rare. My local glasses retailer stopped carrying it several years ago, and a lot of places don't have it. Zenni has one pair of metal frames that has the integrated nose piece, so that is what I've gone with. But I wish there was more choice.
Because I wanted tri-focals, I went with usemyframe.com, sending in one of my previous frames, and they delivered nice glasses. I went with the higher end Transitions photo-chromatic that bumped up the price. Unfortunately the version of Transitions that I wanted (XtrActive Gray Polarized) is not available in bi-focal, and I had to settle for XtrActive Gray. The one thing that sort of annoys me about usemyframe.com is they will pop up messages, etc. and I tend to prefer to not have people doing the hard sell until I ask them, so that i can explore price options in peace.

Just recently, I've discovered migraine glasses with a FL-41 coating for people with photophobia (i.e. light sensitivity being a migraine trigger). This coating is supposed to block the specific wave lengths that are most problematical for migraine sufferers. I've ordered wear over glasses from Theraspecs.com, and I'm contemplating sending in some old frames to get the indoor distance and outdoor polarized glasses with this. Note, the FL-41 coating is a rose tint, and it will interfere with colors that you perceive. Whether you want to wear this while photographing is up to you. Frankly, I'm not as picky as some people are about getting the color correct, and I would prefer not to have to seek a dark room with a migraine after being out in the sun all day.

While I've gotten serious migraines in the past, I have had a lot few attacks recently. I attribute this to the Botox treatment that I started seems to help. With Covid and other medical issues, I haven't been going out outside as much. And I now work from home instead of an office, so I avoid most fluorescent in the office setting. This means I am not exposed to the photophobia triggers like before. Also with weight loss surgery a few months ago, I am much more careful about diet, and I'm likely avoiding other triggers in my food.

The three companies that do FL-41 coatings are:
  • Theraspecs.com -- founded by the husband of a migraine sufferer. Theraspecs is the only company to provide both indoor and outdoor versions of the glasses. There frame selection is fairly small, but they will take an existing frame and replace the lenses. They do do tri-focals, but currently they don't list it in the web page.
  • Axonoptics.com -- founded by researchers studying migraine sensitivity. However for me, the big negative is they don't do bi-focals.
  • Overnightglasses.com -- They do offer glasses with the FL-41 coating for indoor usage. They have a wide selection of frames, including cheaper versions plus all of the Luxottica designer frames like Ray Ban. They are somewhat cheaper than theraspecs.com if you send in frames. However, I don't get a lot of information from their site about FL-41, unlike both theraspecs.com and axonoptics.com.
Hot button alert:

In terms of replacing the lens in an existing frame, there are several companies that do this. I've done some comparison pricing, and in general, going with a company that replaces the lenses, tends to be more expensive than Zenni will charge if I buy new frames from them.

The trouble with buying local is the local dealer often isn't independent, but instead owned by a company called Luxottica. Luxottica has a near monopoly on local dealers (including places like Lenscrafters, Walmart, and I think Costco), and they've jacked up the prices. My last order with Zenni was around $270 for 3 pairs of glasses. There were some discounts involved (10% off as a previous customer coupon and the sunglasses were bought when they had a sale on them), but without the discounts it would have been slightly more than $300. I don't remember what I paid for the last set of glasses I got from the local dealer, but I think it was in the $300 range for a single pair of glasses. This was after the discount from my employer on their vision plan (it would have been in the $500 range without those discounts). Here are articles about Luxottica:
 
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Michael Meissner

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My son-in-law is an optometrist he says the most important parts when ordering on line is to know who makes the lens and what model you are getting. Claims there are only about five manufacturers that are worth buying from. Also coating on todays quality lens should not degrade during the life of the lens.
Yes and no. From what I've read, photo-chromatic (i.e. Transistions and other makers) coatings that change from light to dark and back do get weaker over time. IIRC, the usual length of time before the coating stopped working completely is about 2 years.

I think the anti-fog coating that Zenni sells also has a limited lifetime. But since the coating never worked for me, it isn't an issue for me.
 
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threeOh

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From my experience, in the USA buy the cheapest. I spent 25 years getting my U.S. glasses replaced at my Swiss home because they were ground incorrectly. ”Prescription right, grind not” I was repeatedly told. I am astigmatic which makes the grind more difficult — for some.

Lenses come from many different sources, inventory of Chinese lenses, companies that specialize in lenses (which range from quite expensive to what you find on the drug store shelves), glasses manufacturers (Zeiss, Maui Jim, etc) and optometrists that do their own grinding. My current optometrist grinds for special situations. I'm not special enough. The margins are huge and generous return policies the norm. When you receive your new glasses, test, be very critical, when they are off/weird, take them back, repeatedly.

Good luck.
 

John King

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Tim, I'm (obviously ... ) not in the USA. But I wouldn't even consider mail order spectacles.

Even my current very good optometrist has got my glasses wrong occasionally. I have astigmatism, and each eye is different from the other.

What normally happens is that they make a pair of readers or computer glasses. Once they have them right, I get my bifocals made, then 2x sunglasses, 'art glasses' (focus between 1250and 1500mm).

I have five pairs of glasses. It costs me a bomb for a full set of lenses ...
 

melanieylang

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In Australia, I've had excellent service with online store Clearly, having bought at least 4 pairs with prescriptions provided by my bricks-and-mortar optician. As I am severely short sighted, it's easier for me to use the virtual try-on function than try frames on in-store, and it's so much cheaper for me (perhaps around a quarter what I'd usually pay).

There have been problems when I've selected a frame which isn't well suited to my prescription, but returns have been easy and swift. Staff at my optician have not been able to advise me on which frame sizes (lens width/height, etc) to stick to, so I don't feel I'm losing out on personal service.
 

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Interesting and varied responses. I will report back once I get them. Because they're progressive and have the cheap (not "Transitions") brand name transitional lenses, this will be a test for the company.

When I first went to progressive over 10 years ago I took to them immediately. I have been wearing transition lenses for well over 30 years. When I discussed going to separate sunglasses or clip on with my doctor he told me I'd hate it after being used to doing nothing. With the transition lenses I don't have to worry about carrying a second pair, or clipping on a pair of dark lenses. They have definitely gotten better over the years, working much faster and get darker/lighter than the earlier coatings. The only time it's even noticeable to me is if I walk from very bright sunlight into a very dark room. Normal lighting indoors is not issue. Oddly, until just now it didn't occur to me that there was no problem transitioning when going in and out of those caves. The one drawback is that this has resulted in never having a backup pair, hence my current situation.
 

Michael Meissner

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Interesting and varied responses. I will report back once I get them. Because they're progressive and have the cheap (not "Transitions") brand name transitional lenses, this will be a test for the company.

When I first went to progressive over 10 years ago I took to them immediately. I have been wearing transition lenses for well over 30 years. When I discussed going to separate sunglasses or clip on with my doctor he told me I'd hate it after being used to doing nothing.
Like all choices, it is a trade-off.

Note, except for the new Transistions XtrActive Polarized, photo-chromatic coatings are not polarized. This means you do not get the benefits from polarized glasses (reducing glare from horizontal surfaces such as water, and providing much more darkening). You do avoid the downsides of polarized glasses (such as not being able to view some LCD screens like the viewfinder in Olympus E-m1 mark I/II/III, E-m5 mark I/II, and E-m1x cameras or my daugther's Prius driving console).

Another problem with most photo-chromatic lenses other than the new Transistions XtrActive and Transistions XtrActive Polarized coatings, is that they don't change if there is glass between you and the light source (i.e. a car windshield) because the glass blocks the UV rays that trigger the change.

Going back in time, Transistions used to offer two varieties, one that changed immediately to dark and then took time to return to normal, and the other that would change gradually to dark and then immediately change back. They have eliminated the second option. They now instead offer the Gen x series (gen 8 being the current generation) for normal transistions, and the XtraActive series that is darker and can change even if you are in a car.

As I said, my current solution is to have separate glasses with the prescription. As a computer programmer, I need to have a separate pair for computer work, so that most of the screen is in focus, and I don't have to keep moving my head to get the part I'm reading in focus. As I've migrated to larger screens, this becomes more important.

This means my glasses dance is between 3 glasses (computer, distance, and sunglasses for distance). I often wish men's shirts had pockets on each side, so that I could easily carry all 3 glasses. What I typically do is generally only carry two glasses (computer + distance for indoors, distance + sunglasses when I'm going out on errands, and back when I worked in an office, I would carry all 3).

Yes, it takes some getting used to, but the polarized sunglasses provide much better relief for me, except when I'm shooting certain Olympus cameras (see my various hot-button posts about OLED vs. TFT LCD viewfinders). I use a different frame color (gold vs. black) to identify the computer/distance glasses.

In the past, I've actually had two sets of polarized glasses, one in bi-focal/tri-focal (which lets me see my phone along with driving) and the other wrap around to provide maximal protection, but they can't make bi-focal or progressive verions of wrap around glasses. Back in the day, when my prescription did not change much from year to year, I would get one set of glasses with my company's vision insurance and eventually have backups and all 4 glasses. Having 4 sets of glasses makes the glasses dance more interesting.

There are various types of add-on polarization lenses. The best IMHO, are ones that are made for the frames and clip on each end of the glasses. While drug stores in the USA offer a lot of the generic clip-ons, it is rare for me to find the size that fit the larger glasses that I prefer. Trying to order these on-line can be hit or miss. Zenni and other glasses makers do offer clip-ons for specific frames at cheap prices, but it depends on the whim of the glasses maker. My local glasses company offered to custom make clip-ons for me for $200 US, and I said no thank you.

Another style of add-ons is the clip-on that attaches to the middle piece of the glasses, and it can flip up if you need to eliminate the polarization temporarily. Like with the other clip-ons, the problem can be getting them to match the glasses you have. I also find it slightly annoying to see that clip in the top of the frame that slightly blocks my view. I have two pairs of these in my car, sized to fit my current glasses (one polarized for sunlight, the other polarized and yellow for night driving). If I go out without the prescription sunglasses, I can use these as needed.

A third style is magnetic add-ons made for specific frames. I don't have any experience with these, but every review I've read, people are complaining that the magnets don't always hold the add-ons to the glasses. So, I've stayed away from these.

The fourth style is separate frames that fit over the glasses. These are often quite bulky. If you prefer larger frames, it can be hard to get a pair that fits over the glasses. I got two pairs of these recently when I started experimenting with FL-41 migraine glasses. While they do work, I'm find they are uncomfortable to wear, and I'm planning on getting prescription glasses to avoid the wear over frame. The one advantage that separate frames have is that they can provide filtering or blocking side light that comes in. If you are really sensitive to lights, this can help.
 
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Brownie

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I'm aware of all the choices in sunglasses, I outlined them in my post.

They offered polarizing and transitions, I passed. These are a fill-in until I get new glasses from the optometrist. If they work out, I'll probably get a backup pair of the new ones and go full-tilt, but these are for a quick fill in.
 

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Glasses came yesterday, October 15th. That's 7 days total from order to delivery.

Quality-wise they look as expected. I bought the style to mimic what I already have. No one can tell the difference. The frames are slightly less robust than the glasses from my optometrist, which would be expected considering the cost. They fit perfectly.

When I first put them on I thought they had gotten the transition point in the progressive prescription too high. Near was hopeless and I had to look down to see distance. But after a few minutes I realized they were simply sitting higher. Comparing my old glasses to the new in a mirror I could see the old glasses ride much lower as the nose bridge was set wider. I bent the bridge to match, and voila! Perfect.

I had to set up the camper for my wife and grandkids for a Halloween campout yesterday. I put my old glasses in the glovebox as spares and set off. After 5 minutes I forgot I had them on. Setting up requires close, medium, and far vision. My daughter had gone with me to help set up and we were on our way home when I remembered I had them on.

It's been very grey and rainy so there's been no chance to test the photochromatic changing, hopefully today.

So, while I can't speak to durability or transitioning at this point, I can state without hesitation they got the prescription perfect. Delivery was fast, and fit is fine using their instructions.

Cost for these glasses was $104 and change, glasses from my optometrist were $260 with my 'insurance'.

I would do it again without hesitation, at least as an inexpensive backup pair.
 

melanieylang

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Good result, @Brownie, thanks for the update 👍

I just had my eyes tested, and as they had frames almost the same as my last pair, I'm actually going to pay the big dollars for the first time in years. Swings and roundabouts, eh?
 

oldracer

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Background: Italian company Luxottica has near monopoly in eyeglasses (70% share worldwide) including owning Pearlvison, Lenscrafters, Ray-Ban, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Oakley in the US. That is why prices are so high. They have been raping consumers for years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxottica

For at least a decade I have relied on companies like Zinni for cheap glasses and I have never once been disappointed with any aspect of the transaction. I wear lined trifocals which, as a pilot, I have found to be much better than progressives with their relatively narrow field of view. These lined trifocal blanks aka "Executive Trifocals" are not available via the mail order houses, so I typically have to pay Luxonttica's prices in the US. From that point though I order single vision mid-range computer glasses and reading glasses in quantity so I have computer glasses at each computer location and reading glasses at every reading chair. I am not fussy about frames for these, so they typically run me about $25 for two pairs plus shipping. These mail order suppliers are always running sales. Computer glasses, brown trim frames. Reading: black.

When shopping the mail order companies, keep an eye on add-on costs like scratch resistance and anti-reflective coatings. These are very cheap to do, batch processes, but some companies like to get a little extra gouge by overcharging for them. Overcharging is rampant in the US.
 

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