If you wear eyeglasses, you know how expensive and inconvenient it can be to replace them.
I’ve worn glasses for years and have gone way too long without replacing them in the past because I wanted to avoid the cost. Thankfully, Zenni Optical provides a cheaper alternative. I started ordering my glasses from Zenni in 2020, and I haven’t bought glasses anywhere else since!
In this article, I’ll take a close look at Zenni, an affordable option for purchasing your glasses online.
This article was updated in November 2023 and I review it every three months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
6 Things To Know Before Ordering From Zenni Optical
Whether you’re looking to replace your current glasses or invest in a backup pair, Zenni Optical is one deep discounter worth checking out. You’ll find cheaper prices than nearly any other glasses outlet and tons of styles to choose from.
In the past, Zenni has held one of the top spots on Consumer Reports’ list of the best places to buy eyeglasses. However, its rating fell significantly this year.
“Zenni for years had a fantastic rating from Consumer Reports. Recently, their rating in CR dropped from being the third best place in America to get your eyeglasses to 11th,” says money expert Clark Howard. “Their score went from a great score to what I consider to be a failing score, a 59.”
We reached out to Consumer Reports to see what caused the fall, and here’s the statement we received: “We updated our methodology as we are constantly evolving to be responsive to consumers. Previously we only used overall satisfaction to provide an overall score. This year we weighted attributes like product quality higher, which is a spot where Zenni has struggled—this contributed to Zenni dropping in our ratings.”
So should you still consider buying glasses from Zenni Optical? Here are six things to consider:
- What Is Zenni Optical?
- How Much Do Zenni Glasses Cost?
- What’s Available at Zenni Optical?
- What You’ll Need Before Ordering
- How To Order Glasses From Zenni Optical
- Zenni Optical’s Return Policy
1. What Is Zenni Optical?
Zenni Optical is an online retailer that offers affordable prescription glasses and sunglasses for men, women and children.
The company has its own manufacturing facility in the United States, which helps it cut costs and quickly deliver orders. Zenni’s website says that means you’ll be paying the absolute minimum for its eyeglasses.
If you’re paying the absolute minimum for eyeglasses, you may be curious about the quality. According to the latest Consumer Reports data, customers gave Zenni a score of 3/5 for the quality of frames and lenses. This is the main factor behind Zenni dropping from #3 to #11 in the report.
I’ve personally worn glasses from Zenni for the last three years, and I can attest to the fact that they’re not the highest quality glasses I’ve ever worn. However, they’re so cheap and easy to replace that I just buy a new $10 pair every year and still end up saving money.
Aside from quality, Zenni Optical did earn a perfect score for the price paid. In the same survey, Zenni scored 4/5 for their frame selection and 3/5 for their customer service, policies, and care taken to fit frames and lenses correctly.
“The idea is that Zenni still is a customer service machine, but the quality of the glasses you get compared to others? Not good enough,” says Clark. “So, how do you beat the cartel if you’re not happy with the quality of the glasses you get really cheaply from Zenni? The top three places to get glasses in the United States now, according to CR, are Costco Optical, Warby Parker and Sam’s Club Optical.”
However, if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest place to buy glasses, Zenni is still the hands-down winner.
2. How Much Do Zenni Glasses Cost?
Compared to most eyeglasses retailers, Zenni’s prices are nearly unbelievable. You can find men’s and women’s glasses starting at $6.95 with select styles on the higher end of the scale at $49.95. Children’s glasses begin at $6.95 and go up to $59.95.
In addition to basic prescription lenses, Zenni also offers progressives and bifocals for equally impressive prices. Progressive lenses begin at $37.95, and bifocals start as low as $23.95.
“If you just need a basic pair of glasses — frames, lenses, complete including shipping — you should be able to do that whole thing for roughly $15,” says Clark. “If you need progressive lenses or bifocals, you can run the pair of eyeglasses up at Zenni to as much as $60 … but compare that to what you’ve paid in the past!”
While shipping isn’t included in your online order, it is fast and affordable. Standard shipping costs $4.95 and usually takes about 7-14 days. Members of Team Clark who have ordered from Zenni chose this option and reported that their glasses arrived early each time. Additional shipping options are available at a higher rate.
3. What’s Available at Zenni Optical?
The online retailer carries a huge selection of glasses and sunglasses including a variety of frame styles and lens features. You can browse the available glasses online.
Zenni offers nearly 1,600 unique frames to choose from including women’s, men’s and children’s styles. You’ll find twelve different shapes, including aviator, cat-eye, round and square glasses, as well as a variety of sizes.
You’ll also find several types of lenses and lens features available at Zenni. While some of the following options are free, others are available for an additional cost:
- Single-vision distance or reading glasses
- Prescriptions with prism corrections
- Non-prescription glasses
- Astigmatism-correcting lenses
- Protective goggles and glasses
- Mid-index and high-index lenses
- Impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses
- Polarized lenses
- Mirrored lenses
- Trivex lenses
- Lens coating
Team Clark member Nicole has ordered glasses from Zenni Optical multiple times in the past. She recommends that you keep the extra features to a minimum.
“You have the option to add a lot of bells and whistles. Remember, each of these add-ons cost money,” warns Nicole. “I keep my costs low because I don’t add any extras to my order other than thinning. But even if some of the extras are important to you, you’ll still come out much cheaper than ordering through traditional ways.”
For more information on special prescriptions and additional features, be sure to check out Zenni’s FAQ page.
4. What You’ll Need Before Ordering
Before you sit down to place your order, make sure you have all the necessary information. Most importantly, you’ll need to know your up-to-date prescription and your pupillary distance.
Your prescription will most likely be on the last printout you received from your eye doctor. If you have an online account with the doctor’s office, you may even be able to log in to access this information.
Your pupillary distance may or may not be listed in the same place. If it isn’t, the best way to get it is by calling your eye doctor’s office, or you can measure your pupillary distance at home following the instructions provided by Zenni.
If you don’t already have a prescription for glasses, you’ll have to get one before you order from Zenni. Check out our top picks for where to get a cheap eye exam to determine where you should make your appointment.
5. How To Order Glasses From Zenni Optical
After you’ve gathered your eyeglass prescription and figured out your pupillary distance, it’s time to decide on a pair of frames and order your glasses.
To get started, narrow your search by the type of prescription you’ll need and any preferences you have for color, shape, material and size. If you aren’t sure which types of frames you will like, consider going to a nearby store to try on a few different sizes and styles first. Once you’ve found something you like in person, look for a similar frame online at Zenni.
Zenni also offers a virtual try-on tool that lets you record a short video and then select frames to see what they’d look like on your face. As you find pairs of glasses that you like, you can add them to your “favorites” on the Zenni website and continue to browse.
Once you’ve decided on your frames, click “select lenses” and enter your prescription. This is when you’ll need to have your prescription information and pupillary distance handy. After you’ve entered all the required information, you should be able to place your order.
6. Zenni Optical’s Return Policy
While Zenni doesn’t offer a try-on period or extended warranty, you do have 14 or 30 days to return your glasses.
To make a return, you’ll have to call Zenni within 30 days of the date you received the glasses to request a return authorization number. You can return items within 14 days of receipt for a full refund or within 30 days of receipt for a one-time-use 100% store credit. Both options exclude shipping. But Team Clark’s Nicole believes you won’t need to worry about returning them.
“Ever since discovering Zenni Optical, I haven’t ordered glasses from anywhere else and I’ve ordered six pairs of glasses from them,” she says. “The quality is great and the prices are even better!”
During the initial 30-day period, broken frames can be replaced at no charge. Additionally, while replacement nose pads and nose pad screws for rimless frames are offered for the life of the glasses, Zenni does not offer repair services.
For more information, check out Zenni’s returns FAQ page.
Overall, Zenni Optical is a great place to shop online for cheap prescription glasses. However, you may notice the difference in quality if you’re used to spending hundreds of dollars on a pair of glasses.
If you’re buying regular frames and single-vision lenses from Zenni, you can expect to pay about $15 total on the lower end. Bifocals, progressives and other options are available for an additional cost, but it’ll most likely still beat the prices you’ve paid in the past. Even if you aren’t sure that you’ll be happy with the quality, I recommend ordering one pair to try it out. If the cheaper glasses work for you (like they do for me) you could end up saving hundreds.
Even if you decide not to buy glasses from Zenni Optical, take the time to shop around and find the best price at a quality retailer. Here’s Clark’s advice:
“Zenni’s not alone. There are number of these deep, deep discounters. Go to the discounters. Go to the ones that pass the smell test with Consumer Reports and protect your wallet. You can easily get a good pair of glasses (frames and lenses) well under $100.”
While you aren’t going to find major brand names at Zenni, you will find a huge selection of unique frames in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Just be sure you know your prescription and pupillary distance before trying to place your order.
If you’re happy with your experience, consider referring a friend. You’ll receive a $5 credit for each person you refer, which means you’ll save even more on your next pair of glasses.
Have you ever ordered from Zenni Optical? Tell us about your experience in our Clark.com Community!
- November 16, 2023: Updated pricing and quantity of frames.
- August 10, 2023: Updated quantity of different frames available as well as their return policy.
- June 8, 2023: Added Clark’s latest quotes regarding Zenni’s drop in ratings.
- May 15, 2023: Zenni moved from #3 to #11 on Consumer Reports’ most recent survey.
- May 15, 2023: Updated the prices for progressive lenses and bifocals as well as the current selection of frames.