The Best Places to Buy Eyeglasses

Clark Howard wearing cheap eyeglasses
Image Credit: Ash Jackson

If you’re looking for the best place to buy glasses online or in a store, there are any number of ways you can go: optical chains, independent optometrists, optical departments in big-box stores or online-only sellers.

No matter which option you choose, the key thing to remember is this: Eyeglasses don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars!

Looking for the Best Place to Buy Glasses Online or in a Store?

Money expert Clark Howard has long bought his glasses online from a website called Zenni Optical. He says it’s pretty much the best place he’s found to buy eyeglasses.

Zenni’s prices start at around $12 for a basic frame with prescription lenses. That price includes shipping!

“If you’re wondering how they can be so cheap, Zenni grinds its lenses in China and offers absolutely no service after the sale,” Clark says. “But I’ve used them multiple times and never had a problem.”

But while Clark believes Zenni is among the best places to buy glasses online, they’re far from the only game in town.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some other good places to buy glasses. And I’ll tell you what you should know before ordering glasses online.

Best Places to Buy Glasses: Table of Contents

Top 10 Best Places to Buy Eyeglasses

Consumer Reports takes a look each year at eyeglass retailers and says Costco Wholesale is currently the #1 best place to buy glasses in America.

Not surprisingly, a number of online retailers also scored high marks from the magazine. Here’s a rundown of the 10 best places to buy eyeglasses, according to Consumer Reports:

  1. Costco Optical
  2. Warby Parker
  5. Independent eyeglass shop
  6. Sam’s Club Optical
  7. Private doctor’s office
  8. Kaiser Permanente
  9. Shopko Eyecare Center

To see the full list of Consumer Reports’ rankings, you can visit Consumer Reports online. A digital subscription will cost you $10/month or $39/year.

Meanwhile, Clark likes shopping at the top pick — Costco Optical — for a couple of reasons in particular.


“The customer service is extraordinary, much like you’d find at an independent doctor of optometry,” he says. “The big difference is how much money you save at Costco and the service after the sale. If you’re not happy, they give you your money back — unless state law prohibits it.”

If You’re Going to Buy Your Glasses Online:

The cheap prices from online retailers are certainly alluring. But if you plan on ordering from a site like, or, you’ll need to get your vision checked by an eye doctor to get an updated prescription.

You’ll also need to find out your pupillary distance (P.D.), which is the space between the centers of your pupils, expressed in millimeters. Certain frames will not work with certain P.D.s because the center of the lenses will either be too wide or too narrow. You need a fit that’s just right.

If your P.D. is already noted on your prescription, you are good to go. If it’s not noted, many doctors will provide this information upon request.

Know the Eyeglasses Rule

Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Eyeglass Rule, doctors must do the following for their patients:

  • Your eye doctor must give you a prescription for glasses at the end of your exam.
  • You can’t be required to pay an extra fee, buy eyeglasses or contacts from the doctor or sign a waiver in exchange for the prescription.
  • As for contact lenses, the FTC says your eye doctor must give you the prescription after your fitting, which may require more than one appointment.

If all else fails and you have a doctor who is just not cooperating, here is Goggles4u’s DIY guide to calculating your pupillary distance.

Weigh the Pluses and Minuses of Ordering Online

When you order online, you shouldn’t expect much customer service after the sale. For example, there’s no one you can go to in order to adjust the fit if the frames aren’t feeling comfortable on your head. So there are some trade-offs.

But, again, the biggest benefit is that you’ll pay one-fourth to one-sixth the usual price with online sellers versus traditional retailers.

Clark’s Advice for First-Timers Who Have Never Bought Glasses Online Before

clark with his zenni optical eyeglasses

Clark wears progressive lenses he bought online and says he’s never had a problem with ordering glasses this way. But if this is the first time you’re buying glasses online, you may have some reservations.


If that’s the case, try this:

“I recommend a safe harbor until you’re comfortable. I want you to pay too much for your first pair buying them the traditional way to satisfy your fears. Then buy a second pair with a cheap online shop. Compare the two to see if the cheaper pair will work for you moving forward.”

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