“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times

Eyeglasses Frames: Fit and Selection

Buying cheap frames online means you don't have the opportunity to try them on. To overcome this disadvantage, many eyewear websites provide web tools that let you try on frames virtually by uploading your picture.

Others let you print out to-scale representations of the eyeglass frames you're interested in. Some purchasers visit a local optical store and try on frames ahead of time, taking photos of those they like and jotting down the measurements. Still others seek out cheap frames the same size and style as previous pairs they've owned. A blogger who works in the optical field recommends having an optician give you the measurements of the frames you currently wear for reference. If that isn't possible, you could take the advice of this online eyewear shopper and check your existing specs to see if the measurements are printed inside the frames.

The end result of these efforts is generally positive. A satisfied buyer writes in a review on Reseller Ratings of being more impressed with the fit of glasses purchased from Eye Buy Direct (starting at $7) than with those obtained from an optometrist. An optician blogger reports she was blown away by the price and quality of the brand-name eyewear she purchased from Coastal (starting at $27), which is also a major retailer of contact lenses. And in an eyeglasses review on Yelp, a 39 Dollar Glasses (starting at $39) customer comments that his prescription sunglasses are an excellent value despite having to visit the eye doctor for minor adjustments.

You might worry that your doctor will refuse to adjust cheap frames that you bought elsewhere. The truth is it's possible, but as reviews of frames note on Urban Honking, most eye doctors are willing to help. If yours isn't, you could try visiting a local chain store. In a discussion on the Glassy Eyes forum, one buyer mentions that Lenscrafters will adjust outside eyewear for a nominal fee. If all else fails, you can educate yourself on how to make the necessary adjustments on your own. Several guides, such as Las Vegas Optometry Care, walk you through the process of making simple tweaks to cheap frames.

Sometimes more significant fit problems occur with cheap eyeglasses frames and lenses bought online. A blogger on PD Rater and a customer posting a review on Cool Computing report running into similar base curvature issues with glasses ordered through Goggles 4 U, although the blogger adds that the company rectified the problem quickly.

Eyeglasses Selection.

Online vendors offer a wide range of specs at modest prices, be they sunglasses or regular glasses, plastic or metal construction, rimless or semi-rimless frames.

One of the major differences among vendors who sell cheap eyeglass frames online is the number of styles they carry. With more than 3,500 frames to choose from, Zenni Optical (starting at $7) boasts a seriously large selection of frames. Goggles 4 U sells more than 2,500 styles, and Eye Buy Direct carries around 780 different frames, including nearly 60 with price tags under $7. 39 Dollar Glasses offers about 450 styles and Optical 4 Less (starting at $15) stocks approximately 130 frame styles. Coastal offers just shy of 500 eyeglass frame varieties, and the Glasses Shop boasts an eyeglasses selection that exceeds 860 designs.

Review continues below

Parents of active children particularly appreciate low eyeglasses prices, and most providers carry kid-size specs. As one Goggles 4 U customer notes on Epinions, however, if a retailer doesn't have a kids' glasses category, it's not always obvious whether it stocks sizes small enough for children; read the measurements carefully to determine which frames, if any, might fit. One blogger who was seeking cheap frames for her forgetful daughter was dismayed to find Eye Buy Direct carries only eyewear sized for ages 12 and up, according to a post on Mom's Take On Things.

email Sign up for our
Free Newsletter
Cheapism.com on Facebook