My eyes aren’t that bad…or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last 20 years. I think it was around 6th grade that I was supposed to get glasses. Coerced by my parents, I got the prescription, picked up a pair of the coolest glasses I could find, and gave the world of spectacles my best efforts. For a week. The glasses just seemed so foreign on my face, and I was far too self-conscious to become a four-eyed freak overnight.
So, I decided that contacts were more my speed. For a week. I was constantly worried that my contact lenses were going to dry out, stick to my eye, and have to be removed with a pry bar. Plus, touching my eye every single morning and evening wasn’t exactly something I looked forward to.
So, I decided my eyes were fine. And it was partially true. I really didn’t NEED glasses – it was more of a precautionary step at the time. Since then, my only true struggle has been seeing street signs from far away when driving in a new area. So, I’ve been able to justify my naked eyes until recently.
My 1st Pair of Glasses (The Traditional Route)
Two years ago I decided that I at least needed to wear glasses when I was driving. I’d just keep them in the car. So, I did what most people do. I grabbed the available vision insurance from my employer and then headed to the nearest Sears Optical to get an eye exam and pick out my sexy specs. To the right is a picture of me wearing the first pair.
$49.00 – $39.00 (Insurance coverage) = $10.00 co-pay
Frames & Lenses:
$89.99 (50% off) – $65.00 (Insurance) = $25.00 co-pay
$49.00 – $9.80 (Insurance) = $39.20 co-pay
Vision Insurance Premium for the year (just me):
So, the total cost for the pair of glasses from Sears was $139.20. I didn’t include the eye exam in this total, and I also didn’t include the gas it took to get there, which was fairly significant since the closest “approved” optical provider was in another town.
My 2nd Pair of Glasses (Zenni Optical)
Just recently I decided that I needed to get a second pair of glasses. I was starting to get headaches occasionally while staring at the computer screen at work all day. It appeared that my old age was catching up to me and my eye issues were no longer isolated to the car. So I tried sharing my one pair between work, home, and the car, but I don’t need them all the time, so I tended to forget them in one place or another and not have them when I needed them (on the computer and in the car). A second pair would help a lot. However, I wasn’t about to spend $140 all over again just for the sake of convenience. So, when a co-worker told me about a discount website, I decided to give it a shot.
Zenni Optical is a discount eyeglasses website appropriately found at ZenniOptical.com. You simply fill out your prescription information and choose a pair of glasses and lenses for as little as $6.95! I must admit that I was more than a little bit leary about buying glasses for less than $7. I figured that there must be a catch, but I figured, at the very least, I could be the guinea pig for you fine Simple Family Finance readers. So, I entered my prescription information, picked a pair of frames that looked very similar to my last ones, and pushed the order button. About a week or so later they came in the mail along with a hard plastic case and a microfiber cloth. The picture to the right shows my second pair of glasses. Notice how similar they are to the first.
Frames & Lenses:
Anti-reflective coating and Fingerprint resistant coating:
Shipping and Handling:
The total cost of my Zenni Optical glasses was $26.85. However, that includes shipping and handling, which was substantially less expensive than the gas that I didn’t count in the first example. It also includes the anti-fingerprint coating which makes fingerprints less likely to stick and easier to wipe off (has worked great so far and is especially useful with a 9 month old roaming around). My first pair of glasses from Sears didn’t include the anti-fingerprint coating because it was too expensive. If you don’t care about fingerprints, the basic anti-glare coating is only $4.95 (only 10% of the amount Sears charged)!
But what about the eye exam? Good point. You’ll need an eye exam if you don’t already have your prescription, and Zenni Optical doesn’t offer that. But, if you’ll notice, the eye exam without any insurance coverage was about $50. My insurance premium was higher than that and then I had to pay a co-pay on top of the insurance. Next time I need my prescription updated, I’ll probably just find an inexpensive exam somewhere, skip the insurance, and grab a new pair of glasses at Zenni Optical.
For those of you who love your Optometrist and bake him/her cookies every Christmas, Halloween, and Columbus Day, maybe you could at least use Zenni as a good place to purchase an inexpensive backup pair. It’s true that you won’t be able to chit chat with anyone about the weather while you pick out your frames, but you can’t get a quality pair of glasses for less money anywhere.
How to use Zenni Optical (step-by-step)
1. Call your last eye-doc and get your eye prescription information. You need the basics, but you also need to ask what your “PD” is. It stands for your pupillary distance (or the distance between your pupils), and it’s required for an order. Your optometrist has this information.
2. Go to ZenniOptical.com and enter your prescription information.
3. Pick out a frame you like. You can narrow down your choices using all the different options on the left sidebar. Filter by shape, color, material, price, etc. Once you’re down to your 3 or 4 top choices, try them on. No, seriously. This is where it gets pretty cool.
Take a basic picture of your ugly mug and download it into the Zenni Optical website. They have a feature where you can click “try on” and see what those particular glasses will look like on you. You can also compare 4 or 5 at a time and even share the pics on Facebook if you need some help deciding. It’s really pretty easy. Just make sure you’re facing forward in the picture, and pay attention to the examples provided (as far as size and margins) to make sure the glasses will look right. This feature was really helpful.
4. Choose any add-ons you’d like. Basic lenses are free and most of the add-ons are much cheaper than I’ve seen anywhere else.
5. Place your order.
My Zenni Optical Review
The biggest drawback to buying your glasses this way is that there isn’t an Optometrist standing by ready to answer your questions. However, that’s rarely an issue once you’ve been wearing glasses for a couple years. You’ve been around the block and know what to expect. You also can’t try them on, but the virtual feature is really quite good for getting a general idea whether they’re right for your face or not.
With those two drawbacks considered, I must say that it was nice to find a new pair of eyeglasses that cheap without leaving my home. Also, the quality is easily as good as the pair I found at Sears. But, it’s the $113 that I saved that really put them over the top. My first encounter with Zenni Optical was a big success.
Top Glasses Image provided by Dreamstime.com