10 best places to get a deal on glasses

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Consumer Reports recently took a close look at eyeglasses retailers, and Costco Wholesale has once again been named the No. 1 place to buy glasses in America.

According to the magazine, Costco’s median price for a complete pair of eyeglasses is $184, while a national chain like LensCrafters has a median out-of-pocket cost of $369!

RELATED: Where to buy cheap contact lens

Costco named best eyeglasses retailer

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 91,000 readers to arrive at the latest rankings of eyeglasses retailers in its 2016 survey.

Retailers were ranked in categories such as quality of frames and lenses, frame selection, the fitting process, employee knowledge, price points and more.


Here’s a rundown of the Top 10 best places to buy eyeglasses:

  1. Costco Optical
  2. Independent eyeglass shop
  3. Warby Parker
  4. Private doctor’s office
  5. ZenniOptical.com
  6. Kaiser Permanente
  7. Opticare Eye Health & Vision Centers
  8. Eyebuydirect.com
  9. Sam’s Club Optical
  10. Walmart Vision Center

Another notable entry was 39dollarglasses.com in 12th place.

The three worst places to get eyeglasses included SVS Vision, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses and GlassesUSA.com!

If you’re going to buy your glasses online…

You’ll pay one-fourth to one-sixth the usual price with the online sellers versus the traditional retailers. Zenni’s prices start at around $12 for a basic frame with prescription lenses shipped to you. That’s just about the cheapest price out there — except for the occasional sale that you may catch from any of the online retailers.

But when you order online, you have the issue of limited customer service to consider. 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 tradeoffs.

Follow Clark’s rule

Money expert Clark Howard wears progressive lenses that he bought online and has 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 approach…

“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.”

– Clark Howard

Just don’t forget to get your pupillary distance before ordering!

The cheap prices from the online retailers are certainly alluring. If you plan on ordering from a site like ZenniOptical.comEyebuydirect.com or 39dollarglasses.com, you’ll need to get your vision checked by an eye doctor first to get an updated prescription.

You’ll also need to find out your pupillary distance (P.D.), which is the space between the center 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.

Under the Eyeglasses 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, or sign a waiver in exchange for the prescription.
  • The doctor should give you the prescription automatically. You shouldn’t even have to ask for a copy of it.
  • 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 really ornery doctor who is just not cooperating, here is Goggles4u’s DIY guide to calculating your pupillary distance.

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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