By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Does some of the smaller text on this page look less than crisp? Maybe it's time to stop blaming the display on your computer and start looking for a new pair of glasses. The high prices at local optometrists' offices and national chains may discourage you from updating your lenses, but heading online instead of downtown can save you a bundle. The websites below are Cheapism.com's top picks for finding affordable eyeglasses.
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- Zenni Optical (starting at $6.95 for frames and single-vision lenses) lets you test drive glasses by uploading a picture of yourself to see what you'll look like with different frames. Test drive new glasses to see which frame best suits your face.The glasses may be cheap, but they still come with anti-scratch, UV, and anti-reflective coatings, although some reviewers have questioned the latter's effectiveness. The company also throws in a free protective case and microfiber cleaning cloth. The glasses ship from Hong Kong and most orders are delivered to the U.S. within 7-14 business days for $4.95. Online reviews are polarized -- consumers either love the site or hate it. However, the "love" camp appears far larger, and the low prices make the glasses worth trying.
- 39 Dollar Glasses (starting at $39) charges more than other online discount vendors, but the glasses all have higher-quality polycarbonate lenses with UV protection and scratch-resistant coating. Some reviewers complain about the delivery time of orders placed on this site, but the end product and 100% resolve rate for complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau make the company a solid choice.
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- Goggles 4 U (starting at $6.95 or less) offers excellent customer service, according to reviews, including live online support and a 24/7 toll-free phone line.Ordering online might be your best bet. A variety of glasses can be purchased at the lowest price and a sale going on now promises frames at no cost. Some customers have complained about receiving glasses with low-quality frames and even incorrect lenses, but most reviewers seem pleased overall. If you're not in the market for new frames and just need new lenses, Goggles 4 U also offers a "re-lens" service.
- Eye Buy Direct (starting at $6.95) occasionally runs buy-one-get-one-free sales, offering great opportunities to stock up on a few pairs. The site's Eye Try tool lets you upload a photo to virtually try on frames and many reviewers consider the glasses good quality.
As with any online purchase, be sure to take a close look at the retailer's return policy before buying. Generally these sites will correct mistakes free of charge. However, if you have second thoughts about a frame when you try it on in person, you may be entitled to only a 50 percent refund. Even full refunds may not include shipping costs.
Bifocals and progressive lenses will set you back a bit more than the base price offered on each website. In all cases, you need a copy of your prescription, of course, but also your pupillary distance, or PD. Your eye doctor should be able to provide this; if not, many sites provide guides for measuring your own PD.
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