Did you know you can buy prescription glasses online? You can! And did you know they are WAY cheaper than glasses bought in a store? They are! Buying glasses (and sunglasses) online is one of those super easy to implement frugal substitutions I love talking about.
A frugal substitution is when you find the same product (or service) for a drastically reduced price. This is my favorite type of frugality because you don’t have to give anything up or change your behavior–you just have to shop smart (smartly? smarter?). Point I’m trying to make: be smart and save money.
There we go, that pretty sums up Frugalwoods. We can all go home now. Wait! Don’t go anywhere, I have at least 800 more words to say about discount online glasses.
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Three Words for You: Eye Buy Direct
Astute readers are now thinking, “but wait, Liz Frugalwoods [legal name] doesn’t even wear glasses! She got LASIK surgery back in 2013.” And to this I say, “Correct[ive lenses].” However, my husband DOES wear glasses and he orders those glasses from Eye Buy Direct. This is actually his third Eye Buy Direct order because his prescription keeps changing and unfortunately, not for the better.
Here’s my 2017 write-up in case you want the OG experience: How We Bought Inexpensive, Awesome Glasses Online.
Mr. Frugalwoods had 20/20 vision until four years ago, so wearing glasses is a relatively new thing for him. We tried several different frame styles and sizes until he landed on something that’s comfortable, durable and functional. The durable being crucial since he spends a lot of time working outdoors on things such as felling trees, splitting wood, digging holes for fruit trees, and hefting around heavy machinery like snow plows.
Now, he just re-orders the same frames from Eye Buy Direct every time his prescription changes.
Here’s What He Bought Last Month:
- Axis gunmetal grey prescription eyeglasses (with transition lenses)
- Vienna rectangle gray prescription eyeglasses (with normal lenses)
- November rectangle matte black prescription eyeglasses (with sunglass lenses)
Grand total: $106.35
This was a more expensive order because he decided to try out transition lenses–you know, the ones that magically change from light to dark–and they cost a lot more than the normal prescription lenses.
I asked him what he thinks of the new transition lenses and he reported, “I think they’re fine. They’re not annoying and they’re sometimes helpful. However, they’re not a replacement for real sunglasses.”
How Do I Buy Glasses Without Trying Them On?!?
Mr. FW wondered this too, but turns out, it’s a lot like buying anything else online and it works totally fine.
To help you with this, Eye Buy Direct has:
- A quiz to help you narrow down the frame styles that’ll look best on you.
- A virtual try-on thingy where you take a picture of your face and then select frames to “try on.” We may or may not have had a lot of fun with this…
- A 14-day guarantee: “you can make a return for a one-time replacement or refund within two weeks of receiving your order, no questions asked.” So if the frames you selected don’t work in person, you can return them at no cost.
- A one-year product guarantee: “Customers are eligible for a one-time replacement pair within 12 months. A replacement pair will only be issued if there are clear defects in material and workmanship.”
Mr. FW’s Notes
Being the person who actually wears these glasses and sunglasses, I tracked Mr. FW down and got his thoughts on the record:
- They [Eye Buy Direct] have a lot of variety and make it really easy to search by different frame styles.
- They have a lot of options for customizing the lenses and sizes.
I like that you can turn any pair of glasses into sunglasses–you just select “tinted lenses.”
- I always get a really cheap $9 frame for my sunglasses because they’re going to get destroyed with all the outdoor work I do. I like that I don’t have to worry about breaking them because they were only $9.
- They’re always having sales, so make sure to look and see what the sale of the day is.
- The shipping is really fast. They have certain lens and frame combos that can be delivered within two days of ordering. I think most take 7-14 business days, but if you’re desperate, you can search for the two-day delivery options.
- What I’ve come to realize is that these glasses are so cheap, you should always get several pairs so that if a pair breaks, you have a back-up and it won’t be a big deal to wait 14 business days to get a new pair.
Do I Need a Prescription?
Yes, yes you do. When you go to your eye doctor, have them write down your prescription along with your pupillary distance. You can also call your eye doctor and have them read your prescription to you over the phone.
You’ll input these numbers on Eye Buy Direct and voila, you get lenses with your exact prescription.
If you’re wondering what all these numbers mean, they have this online tutorial for how to read your prescription. Bottom line: they can make lenses for any prescription in any strength.
Kids’ Glasses Too!
EyeBuy Direct also has adorable glasses for kids, starting at $12. I feel this price is reasonable since–if my kids wore glasses–we’d need about 19 pairs…
How Much Can You Save?
A lot. Quite a lot, in fact. According to Consumer Reports:
People paying entirely out of pocket for their glasses paid a median of $91 online, while those buying in-store paid $234. (source: Consumer Reports)
So if the median for an in-store purchase is $234 and Eye Buy Direct has frames starting at $6 (which I’m pretty sure is less than most custom Starbucks drinks), you’d potentially save $228 PER PAIR of prescription glasses and sunglasses. Better yet, look up what you paid for your last pair of glasses and do the math yourself!
Plus, and you know I love this, they have an entire section of the website titled Cheap Prescription Glasses for Men and Women. Bahahaha. It’s like they KNOW ME.
Seeing The World Through a Frugal Lens
Buying prescription glasses and sunglasses online is just one more trick to seeing the world through a frugal lens. It’s not a major alteration to what you were going to do anyway (buy glasses), but it’s a change that can save you thousands of dollars over the course of your prescription-glasses-wearing lifetime.
It’s not like any one of my frugal hacks is going to radically change your finances, but when you add them all up, it’s quite a lot of money.
If you use an MVNO for your cell phone service, and use a cash-back credit card, and cut your own hair, and buy your stuff second-hand, and look for ways to reduce your energy usage, and and and… it adds up over time! It’s about constructing a life that’s filled with everything you need, but that acknowledges when you have enough. It’s a life that’s content being a few steps outside of the consumerism rat race. Buy what you need, buy it for less and move on to do better things with your life than spend a whole paycheck on prescription glasses. The end.