Top Eyewear Retail Chains, Optical Stores and Online Eyeglasses Shops Profiled! See the eyewear facts before you buy!

Buying Eyeglasses

Looking for new or replacement Eyeglasses?

Get tips on how to get the best overall value and great savings to boot on your new eyewear purchase!

Just like many consumers these days looking for glasses, you too are likely to wind up with double vision from the choices of frames and confusing combinations of coatings and lenses available from your eyeglasses retailer, your eye doctor, local optician, eyeglasses chain stores, warehouse clubs offering eyewear, and new internet eyeglasses retailer.

If you’re not educated in retail eyeglasses buying, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars unnecessarily.

Buying Eyeglasses?
From various sources and eyewear reports, it seems almost 100,000 people  queried on  how to get the best value for a pair of glasses.  Applying  information from and among other reports we found, we’ve summarized that:

• USA independent online eyeglasses stores offered the excellent value and price. The Internet turns out to be a great place to find your style of frames at what ever your budget.


• Independent optical stores and doctors’ offices scored high among respondents for service and selection but not for price.


• You can save money by buying complete eyeglasses with frames and lenses online.

• Polycarbonate lenses generally provide better shatter proof,  UV and anti scratch protection but are more costly than standard CR39 plastic lenses.


• Discount brick and mortar stores like Walmart, BJ’s Optical, Costco, and Sam’s Club may achieve good marks for price when compared to other optical chains that were much more expensive.


• The best value we found was by far from online USA FDA registered optical labs that offered excellent material and workmanship found at the big box retailers at a fraction of the cost.


3/2017 update:  Among select optical retailers worth considering we found Warby Parker to meet our standards for service and selection.

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Price is the biggest gripe among consumers buying eyeglasses.  In our research we uncovered recent surveys information showing less than half of eyeglasses buyers reporting they were satisfied with the price they paid.  However, our own in-house review uncovered that glasses don’t have to cost as much as most consumers think and pay in bricks and mortars eye glasses retailer.  In our in-house reviews we discovered a surprising standouts: Independent online eyeglasses retailers.  While wholesale shopping clubs like Costco or Sams and even Walmart are now among the nation’s largest sellers of eyewear.  The choices they offered and pricing where not as favorable as those available online in some perspectives.  While these brick and mortar chains offered low prices, but their frames did tend to be on the lower end for overall quality in comparison to to higher end flex titanium frames available at other independent optical stores.

Tips for your eyeglasses prescription for savings!

Most of us will begin our shopping for new or replacement glasses with a new eyewear prescription. To begin you best bet is to get educated before heading to the eye doctor’s office and get a little knowledgeable with the types of lenses lenses, coatings, and edgings that are available. (See UV coating.)

Armed with a better understanding, you’ll now be able to ask your eyeglasses doctor and later your optician and optical store salespeople  the right questions, to avoid being oversold.  You can shop smart and ensure that you aren’t being sold unnecessary or un-needed expensive prescription eyeglasses options. For example, some doctors may indicate ultraviolet-light eyeglasses lenses protection for polycarbonate or high-index lenses, but these are already built in functionality in poly lenses.  Such protection already comes in your poly lenses.   And likely you can skip on UV protection with your poly lenses. (See Types.)

Your eye doctor might also prescribe Varilux lenses, a pricey expensive  brand of progressive, or “no line,” bifocals. Keep in mind, that there are other excellent high-quality progressive lenses that may be less costly.  From our dealings with consumers, wer know that the average eyeglasses consumer has no way to tell a good lens from a bad one.  That’s why optical stores could take advantage of those eyeglasses buyers that are not well informed.

It seems like a wise idea that where your doctor’s office includes an eyewear frame selection, to browse the frames while you’re there. Of course, you should not feel obligated to buy your frames and even lenses there.  According to federal law, you can have your eyeglasses prescription filled anywhere.

When shopping for eyeglasses, prescription in hand, you will find that frames, lens, and lenses options prices alone vary dramatically. LensCrafters, known for its high pricing, for example, will likely cost more than double other optical chains. For CR-39 lenses,  the lowest cost plastic lenses, these lenses that do not vary much from place to place.  One higher cost chain charges $120 before any discount. That’s as much as 400% or more of the prices found online or even at discount optical stores.  But where you opt for anti-reflective coatings, you will be mandated to must upgrade to a higher cost multipe function lenses for a whopping increase in the hundreds of dollars at one particular high end retial optical chain.. While the price for similar lenses will likley be 50% or more cheaper with all of the extras added at your high end expensive optical shop.

As many of us already know, adding designer or ultralightweight frames can boost the price of one’s eyeglasses to $1,000 or more. Designer frames, however, typically are not made by the designers but by manufacturers that license Gucci’s, Armani’s, or Hillfiger’s name, supposedly with the designer’s eye for style.  If you’re inclined to believe that.

Of couse, licensing fees for designer frames do translate to higher prices, but their manufacturers such as Luxottica also make high-quality non-designer frames that cost much less.  You are even likely to find frames that look the part of their designer cousins for a fraction of the designer frames costs.

On the Internet, you too are likely to find great places to shop for frames. Prices are almost always lower vs. most brick-and-mortar optical stores. The main drawback is not having an optician to help you select and  measure, adjust, and fit the frames.  But, you can buy online and have an optional make an adjust offline for you for low fee should that be necessary.

How to choose you glasses

Lenses first. For low price and optical quality, CR-39 lenses are the best choice, but they are less shatter-resistant than other lenses, and with strong prescriptions they look like Coke-bottle bottoms. If you are active in sports, you should instead choose polycarbonate lenses. If you need a strong prescription, choose thinner polycarbonate, high-index, or Trivex lenses.

If you buy polycarbonate or high-index lenses, you don’t have to pay extra for UV protection and scratch-resistant coatings because such features are already included. The new Trivex lenses have better optical quality than polycarbonates, UV protection, scratch protection on one side, and thinness. But they cost about $100 to $135 for single-vision lenses and can be difficult to find.

Frames second. Frames come in so many metals and resins that you could go crazy trying to sort them out. Generally, there’s no particular reason for selecting one over the other unless you’re concerned about durability or allergies. Plastic frames break more easily than metal ones, but they are fine for people susceptible to allergies. So are stainless steel and titanium frames, which, unlike those made of nickel alloy, don’t irritate skin. If durability is a concern, you should choose titanium frames and titanium-based flexible metals, which can withstand the most abuse. If you’re constantly putting your glasses on and taking them off, opt for spring hinges, which need fewer adjustments and make the frame fit better.

Be careful of buying ultracheap frames, warns Frank Baynham, an executive vice president, stores of Luxottica Retail, which owns LensCrafters and Pearle Vision, among other chains. He says those frames are often low-quality models from China and Korea that break easily or pop out lenses repeatedly. While those countries also make good frames, the cheaper ones are often used for promotions such as “free second pair” deals that are limited to a special section of the store.

How frames look is also important. Consider frames that complement the shape of your face–say, rectangular ones for a round face or round frames for a square face. If your prescription requires thick lenses, go with frames that have rims. Rimless and semi-rimless frames will make thick lenses look even thicker.

Where to shop. Your choice of an eyeglasses store may depend partly on how quickly you need your glasses. If you broke your glasses and have to replace them right away, your best options are physical optical shops, some of which can produce your prescription glasses in as little as an hour. We estimate that the majority are likely to receive their glasses from those such stores the next day with as many as one-third longer.  But keep in mind only about one out of seven will actually get their replacement glasses the same day in an hour or less.  More complicated progressive lenses and special coatings and options will take much longer.

Not in a rush?  Then plan to check out eCommerce online eyeglasses stores.  These internet retailers offer better prices, excellent selection of  frames. And in most cases you can order your eyeglasses prescription and get them in about as weeks time.  Of course, if there are issues with your finished glasses you may have to mail the glasses back and wait for the online store to make the needed changes and replace them again.

Before hitting the stores, look at our eyeglasses store comparisons. If high prices don’t bother you, stick with an independent store or your doctor’s office. Otherwise, go online or consider discount chains like BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club. You don’t have to be a member at BJ’s or Sam’s Club to buy glasses or contact lenses, but at Costco, you must join, and pay for membership. (We believe that none of the warehouse clubs requires membership for an eye exam, but service varies by store.)

Other national chains–Davis Vision Center, For Eyes Optical, and Wal-Mart–also may offer discount pricing vs. more expensive optical stores. However, everything being equal, all of these stores will offer similar frame selection.  Of course, where the offline optical store brands do not carry frames that you want, you can always shop online.  Consider that the same high priced branded frame that was $500 at LensCrafters, for example, cost almost $400 less at online eyeglasses retailers.

Buying your glasses final tips.  Just be careful that you look for a guarantee policy from what ever store you select. Lastly, if you’re happy with your new glasses, let the store know.

Please note, is Not affiliated in any way with Consumer Reports.  Thank you for visiting us.

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