The first time I heard about ordering prescription eyeglasses online, I scoffed. I rolled my eyes. What next? Mail order surgery? Online doctor visits? Not me.
I mean, how could a person trust her eyesight to some website in the sky by forwarding a doctor's written prescription, selecting frames online and expecting said unknown entity to grind those lenses properly, fit them into the frames, send the glasses with a perfect fit and charge her a fraction of the cost she would pay locally? How could she expect any of this to turn out well?
Do not be surprised when I say that I would be that kind of person. I've had an epiphany, a change of heart.
Up until the past decade, I'd not worn glasses and enjoyed perfect vision. But life happens (perhaps you've noticed this). I was totally unprepared for the mind-numbing cost of prescription eyewear.
All this is to tell you that I've waded into the waters of online prescription eyeglasses. By now I have thoroughly tested two of the top-rated providers at my own cost, and wow. Why was I so hesitant?
My worst fears were put to rest when I realized that I still get my eyes examined by my trusted optometrist. There is no self-diagnosis involved here. My doctor hands me my written prescription and I'm outta there.
After considering the cast of online providers, I started with Zenni Optical because I found it to be cheapest, and it had great reviews and a generous 30-day return policy.
Prescription glasses including frames and single-vision lenses start as low as about $7. Can you believe it? I spent more than that because I chose more expensive frames, but still, seven bucks.
My new glasses arrived quickly, and I couldn't have been happier. They fit well. The frames are decent quality. The prescription is spot on and includes anti-scratch coating, anti-glare coating and full UV protection. The price for everything including shipping? Just $43.85. Amazing.
I am thrilled with Zenni Optical.
Another well-known, highly reputable discount online prescription eyewear provider is Coastal, from which I have also purchased prescription eyeglasses and been super pleased.
Here are the steps:
GET AN EXAMINATION
You cannot get your eyes examined online, at least not yet. You do need to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for a proper eye examination. If you require corrective glasses, request a written prescription.
SELECT AN ONLINE PROVIDER
I recommend Zenni Optical, located in Novato, California, and Coastal, located in Blaine, Washington.
Both providers offer frames for men, women, teens and kids. And the selections are amazing. No optometrist I know of has on display more than 700 choices of frames! And let's just agree that if you must wear glasses, it's all about the frames.
You upload a picture of yourself, and somehow it is sized perfectly so you can virtually try on frames right there. Just drag the frames to your face and voila! There you are.
Once you have made your selection, you'll need to measure something called your pupillary distance, or PD. This is easy. Your eye care professional may even have taken your PD at your last appointment, so be sure to ask him or her to include that with your prescription.
It's as easy as ordering something from Amazon. Just make sure you do this with a credit card or bank draft, never a debit card.
In just a few days, your new prescription eyeglasses will arrive.
NOT HAPPY? NO PROBLEM
Both Zenni and Coastal offer amazing return policies — way beyond anything I've ever heard of from my local providers.
Even when you select designer frames, the total price is going to be a fraction of what you may have paid in the past and will never pay again in the future.
At the very least, both sites are worth a look.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.