How to Save Money on Eyeglasses


Is there a logical reason why new eyeglasses cost $300-$500? Could I find a better deal online? These are the questions that have been swirling around in my mind as I search for a pair of new glasses before the end of the year (and the end of our 2006 flexible spending account).  I’ve always suspected that eyeglasses were overpriced (my eyes are bad, but $500 bucks???), and now I have proof.

How to Buy Cheap Eyeglasses without Risking Quality

We stumbled upon this very informative blog post at called “Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers”, where the blogger wrote about his struggle to find reasonably priced eye wear and how he was able to find a solid pair of glasses, including lens with all the fixins, for less than $100.  I did some follow-up research and found that according to an MIT report on vision correction in developing nations, the cost of mass produced glasses is around $2 a pair.

Why the high cost of glasses then? Well, you’re paying for overhead like rent for the store, advertising, etc. Plus, frames is where most of the eyeglass stores make their money. Also the powers-that-be know that blind folks like myself really need glasses to live.

That being said, I, like most eyeglass wearers, like to try on frames before purchasing them.  It’s virtually impossible to tell how a frame will look on your face WITHOUT trying them on.

So here’s what you do…

Always, always go to a board-certified Ophthalmologist (especially if you have insurance that will pay for it) and get an eye exam. Once you have a prescription, head to retail stores like Len Crafters and/or a local eyeglass store, and use these stores as “fitting rooms” to find out what brand fits your face, personal style, etc. Write down the frame details- manufacturer, style number, etc and then head online to eBay or to your nearest Costco or Sam’s Club to see if you can find it for less. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save ( up to $200 OFF regular prices).

Last week on eBay, I saw Chanel and D&G frames selling for around $100, about a $400 saving off store prices. I would get my lenses created a reputable store for my main pair of glasses, but try some of the online shops for extra pairs or if you wear your contacts more than your glasses.

TBF Note: I went ahead and purchased glasses via our eye doctor and our vision saving plan (VSP) mostly because we need to use the money up.

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    Costco is great – their selection of frames has really improved over the last year and they have many designer styles.  They also have great customer service – they gave my mom her frames + lenses for free because two people were arguing about being first in line at the vision counter.

    I wish that I could have read this back in July. I had to pay $720 for “non-designer” glasses!! I can’t believe how cheap you can get glasses online! Next time I will be buying my glasses online, thanks for posting this(even if it’s too late for me).

    i agree about costco. my last two pair are from them. they don’t have same day service as lenscrafters does but then it didn’t matter to me.

    This is so funny!  I just bought a pair of Marc Ecko glasses yesterday at JCPenney.  At this particular location, they were having a 40% sale off frames and lenses and 20% off other features.

    The glasses were originally about $230 and I included features such as transistions tint, feather weight lenses and stratch resistant protection.  The bill came to $300.

    I figured I paid too much but I got suckered in by the sale. What do you think Budget Fashionista?

    Discontinued lenses are also a great way to go. I stumbled across this option when I broke my Armani’s and couldn’t get them replaced at my eye doctor. I found my exact lenses on the web for 50.00 when they cost my 400.00 originally. And trust me these were FABULOUS frames!

    I wear my contacts much more than my glasses, and my glasses are at least ten years old!  (I don’t wear them out in public at all.)  I have one pair of prescription sunglasses in a classic frame style that I keep for wear after eye dilation appointments. 

    These are wonderful tips for when I do decide to replace my glasses – thank you!

    5 of my 7 kids plus hubby and I wear glasses and/or contacs.  we’ve been going to For Eyes for years!  you can’t beat their prices, esp for kids glasses because they have a really good replacement warranty.  they also always have a 2 for $99 deal…that’s 2 COMPLETE pair of eyeglasses with frames and lenses.  granted, there’s a more limited selection of frames but when we’re buying that many pair of glasses, it’s a great deal!
    I recently had to get my first pair of bifocal lenses (ack…getting old stinks!) and I got the progressive lenses (no line bifocals) and they were more expensive but significantly less than every other place I looked…I always go back to For Eyes!  they also will let you trade them in if you hate the frames within 30 days…just did that yesterday!

    until recently, i did not have any kind of medical insurance since i was in high school, still on my dad’s.  for years i went to a little place called America’s Best (they have commercials that boast “2 pairs for $69.99” and such).  the price includes the exams, basic lenses (transition and such is extra), and frames.  the deals are actually really great.  the doc even said he it didn’t matter if i actually got my glasses there and gave me my prescription.  they carry all kinds of frames, even designer names.  they even have extra specials for contact lenses. 
    since i now have insurance, i went to another eye place (located in JC Penny’s, after the advice of a customer in my store).  i found myself paying only a bit less, but enough to make a difference. 
    if u don’t have insurance, it might be a good idea to at least look into places like america’s best…

    By Federal law you have the right to receive your eyeglass (lens) prescription and also have the legal right to have it filled anywhere you choose.  Just read that in Consumer Reports which also did a story on saving money on eyeglasses.

    I googled eyeglass frames and found a great pair from Coach that I liked.  I printed out the page, went to my eye doctor and showed him the frames.  He said he could order them at the same price and although I felt a little embarrassed going in and asking for the deal, I got my glasses for UNDER $200.  Sweet!

    wow, what timely information.  i just did some “trying on” at Lens Crafters today, and did some preliminary comparison shopping online.  i didn’t go so far as to write the style name/numbers down though.  i have a feeling the salespeople are going to snatch the glasses out of my hands if i start doing that!  i’ll try to be discreet 🙂

    Most people don’t realize that you can negotiate a lower price with retailers like LensCrafters and Eyeglass World.  I’ve gotten glasses (lenses included) for less than half of the original quoted price.  Tell them what you want to pay, and be prepared to walk away if you don’t get it—they’ll usually come down quite a bit.

    Good blog entry. I am a fanatic for cute frames, and actually consider it to be one of my signature fashion pieces! I used to visit a local optician with all the latest designer frames (Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, Alain Mikli, etc). But I stumbled across a website one day ( that had the same pair of Chanel frames I wanted for at least $200 less! I had my prescription, so I made no hesitation to order the frames from them instead. They provide great service, and respond quickly when you have an inquiry.

    Nowadays, I’m not into BIG designer labels for my frames (unless they aren’t gaudy and I can get a good deal on them)…I tend to go to places like Sears to find just as fashionable frames for much cheaper prices!

    You can buy your eyeglasses using the internet and literally save yourself hundreds of dollars. I bought my semi-rimless, spring hinged, progressive bifocals from for less than $59 (using a promo code).

    Single vision glasses with all of the coatings can be purchased for under $25 (also, using a promo code). They have free tinting, free shipping worldwide, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

    The prices are quite amazing compared to what you will find in the shopping malls. Use promo code “arcaro” at the checkout to save yourself an extra 5%.

    wow, glasses are so expensive!
    I’m in the UK, and on my first pair of glasses. (I discovered I needed them a few months ago, when applying for my provisional license. Dad told me to read a number plate on a car and I couldn’t make it out.)
    How come all your glasses are so expensive??!!
    I got mine from the opticians where I got my eyes tested, they were about £60. Plus, should I want more, my uncle (who also wears glasses)told me to have a look at
    (sorry, not sure if it’ll be possible for other countries, but always worth a try).
    On this site, I can get a pair of glasses, including lenses, to my measurement/ prescription etc, for about £15 (probably plus p&p tho). Designer frames aren’t too much more (i think less than £80?).
    Had to thank my uncle tho – i would be great to have a spare pair of glasses: some I can actually AFFORD!


    Wow! I can’t believe how much you guys are payng for glasses. I’m with Jockey on this one and always use You can get a pair of single vision glasses for under US$25 with a discount code – they’ve got thousands of frames to choose from and you get free worldwide shipping, free lens coatings and free tints . You even get a 15% repeat order discount. Use discount code LOOKGREAT45 for the discount.

    For me – I tried this route – and boy it was not worth the headache
    I am a -5.00 -1.50 and where a progressive .

    I thought – boy what a deal ! But in the end – I found by supporting my local buiness I was much better off – as well as supporting those in my community with jobs .
    Personally – the bottom line buck is not my thing – don’t get me wrong I am not loaded – but I found troubles the few times I tried – ( my Jewish nature came out ) ( I’m jewish – so I can say this !!)

    The issues I had was
    1- the progressives they used where so inferior ! I have worn many and felt the cheap ones I bought online – where designs that they used 5 yrs ago – outdated and horriable! Blurt – swim – and not the best optics !
    I have found I only prefer these designs ( I have tried many ) but I feel best in
    ellispe 360 – dafinity. – and comfort 360 !

    2- they tried to use crappy polycarbonate products ! Can u say headaches !

    3- those that say coatings are a waste – go back to school and check out the actual science ! It is like night and day how it effects my optics !
    As for that – I have learned u get what u pay for !
    Nothing but issues with the cheap coatings ! Poor scratch resistance – harder to clean and just junk ! I have found I like the Alize and avamce with scotchguard as well as a few of the ziess coatings ! All these other off market coatings suck – plus with the good ones – they stand behind them – and redo them if needed ! No charge !

    3- as for frames I did by my 1st pr ( now my back ups online ) actually I bought 3 – however I found that 2of the 3 where counterfits ! As well as having issues replacing them !

    4- I gave learned my lesson that I am no expert and for me to try to look in tge mirror and try to measure my progressive location correctly did not work well for me ! And when I was off my only 2.5 mm – the online place pretty much said – Its your fault – ur stick with them !
    I was so pussed since they first tried to switch my lenses that I wanted from the 1.74 ellispe to the 1.67 version – and then tried to pass off a regular one for the new 360 digital version that I had ordered !
    If my doctor did not show me the etchings I would have never found out tgat was the issue – and I would have believe them when they said it was my fault !

    Lastly – I have found that by supporting my local shops – they r much likely to help me in those 911 cases ! Such as when they broke – or I needed someone to find out if it was the glasses or my rx – the issue ! I know some cheap folks would expect others to just do this but I realize that professional knowledge is worth SO MUCH more then everything else ! I would not expect anyone to prove it for free !

    So in the end –$$$$$ – should not be the deciding factor – optical quality means so much kore and most of all in today’s world – supporting your local shops – to provide others jobs is as important ! It just really bothers me how $ $ – effects everyone so – and people have no issues supporting those that do not support my neighbors and community!!

    In today’s world – we must al. Look at the entire picture !!

    I couldn’t agree with you more! For many people, it’s not practical to shop this way. A good example of someone who can take advantage of cheap glasses is my husband. He had laser eye surgery a few years back, and it left him with much better vision than before. He still needed glasses, however, and due to the nature of his work, they were always getting scratehd and bent. Since this essentially amounted to “disposable” frames, we got him one good $200 pair and a couple of the cheapos for when he’s working in the shop. I no longer cry when they get trashed

    ZENNIOPTICAL.COM I only purchase glasses thru them now and I save my insurance for contacts. This website is awesome. $8 glasses. The quality for the cheaper pair is ok but the $15-$20 pair is no different than my $275 pair from the Dr.’s office. You can even turn any of the glasses you choose into sunglasses, transitional, or bifocal!!!

    Ditto to Zenni. I bought my glasses there for like 80$ I have an awful prescription ( coke bottles) and I ordered half frames. I was informed that my eyes are to bad for those frames. They then suggested 2 alternatives that would work. I haven’t worn glasses in public since middle school, but I have gotten so many compliments on how cute and funky these frames are.

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