How I Bought Affordable Glasses Online at Zenni

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I have needed my eyeglasses replaced for a long time now. I got my first pair way back when I turned age 40 in 1989. It seems a lot of people start having vision problem as they age and 40, despite being “the new 20”, is a time that it seems to hit us in big numbers. Now I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but I was having some trouble with distances like watching a movie or seeing the scoreboard clearly at the baseball games. The latter reason being a significant enough crisis for me to go to my optometrist and check it out!

If you're in the habit of buying your glasses in a store, check out my experience of buying affordable glasses online at Zenni Optical.The Old Fashioned Way

I have to admit it was not an easy thing to do. I went through the whole examination and not too surprisingly I was diagnosed with being near-sighted, making glasses a necessity. It wasn’t that much of a surprise but more of an adjustment for me both physically and of course, mentally. I just didn’t think I would look too good in a pair, having all my life been free of dealing with them. And God only knows how many pairs of sunglasses I have lost or broken (can you say “sat on them”?) in my life up until that point. So what was I to do? I did what everyone did before the internet was in widespread use.  I went looking for a retailer near my home.

Being a frugal kind of guy, my first thought was that I’d have to find a coupon from someplace nearby offering a big discount on my new pair. Armed with my prescription, I went right to my Sunday newspaper to check out all the ads and believe me there were lots of them. I finally settled on one and went out to buy my first pair, driving to the shopping center, waiting around a bit browsing, and then dealing with a commissioned salesman who then took me through the long process of reviewing my needs, suggesting various styles, lens types, sunglasses, etc., trying to upsell me all along the way by showing me every pair of glasses he had that fit my uninformed idea of what would look good and function well on my face.

I have a feeling that most of you who are older than 50 and have glasses know what I am talking about. It wasn’t and isn’t any fun and glasses are really expensive. So despite the fact you may need them, you may be reluctant to actually go out and buy them. I did that same thing again and again and again over the years. But why? Is it just that old habits never die? It’s the 21st century isn’t it? And thank you Al Gore for inventing the internet!!

Buying Online with Zenni

Buying affordable glasses online these days is really so easy and so good, that I am gushing over my experience. Let me explain just a few good reasons why I feel this way, now that I have purchased my first pair from just last month.

I had my prescription checked by my doctor before I went online to shop and found out that I now need a progressive type pair of lenses that will enable me to see well for distance, reading, and computer use as well. This isn’t anything I have used before, so I wanted to make sure I had the right prescription before I ordered anything. That’s really important. The checkup cost me a simple $20 copay through my health insurance plan.

Big Advantages

First of all, you will save a ton of money buying online with Zenni. You can easily pay up to $500 (or more!) for one new pair of complete glasses in a brick and mortar retail store. Values online are as much as up to 75% off retail store prices for frames and you can literally buy new ones for as low as $6. There are lots of websites to compare and I did just that, but after doing so I determined Zenni to be my favorite one, as well as the most affordable.

The Hidden Costs You Pay for Glasses Infographic | Zenni Optical

The second big advantage is that there is a huge selection of frames online. Stores that I had been to over the years had “selected” options, and I wasn’t always thrilled with the ones I was looking at. Online, there were so many to view and I was so impressed that my problem was more like should I buy two or three? (Ok, I’m frugal here, I didn’t do that!) But you can search or filter by style, shape, material, color, rim, size, price, type of prescription (single vision, bifocal or progressive), and more! You get detailed information on the frames, plus you get to read other customers’ reviews.

Third, I didn’t have to trudge out to do my shopping. I did it at a convenient time of the evening, after 9 pm (they’re of course available 24/7), and I had access to online chat for any questions and all kinds of tools to help me get the right fit and look. I was even able to “try on” my glasses by virtual tech so I saw what they actually looked like on my own face! If you already wear glasses, you may be familiar with the problem of having to take off your prescription lenses to try on frames, and not seeing clearly when you do. Well not only do you avoid that problem, but you can see up to four of yourself side-by-side to compare different frames.

If you're in the habit of buying your glasses in a store, check out my experience of buying affordable glasses online at Zenni Optical.
Me, side-by-side, doing a virtual “try on” of the 3 finalists

Let me stress here that Zenni has all of the quality, lens specs, and availabilities that any retail store should have, and they don’t have sales people all over you making commissions and driving up the prices. There’s no middlemen who make the glasses as Zenni does them “in house” and that adds to the savings for you the consumer.

Alleviated Worries

I made my decisions and entered in all my information, including my prescription. I thought it might be complicated, but it was actually very easy. It took so much less time to complete my transaction when compared to my store shopping experiences of the past.

The idea of shopping online did make me wonder about a few things. But Zenni made it easy with how-to video’s and lots of information on everything from which frames look best on my face shape to how to adjust your glasses after you receive them. And if you made a mistake during the order, or you just don’t like the glasses, you can return them for a 50% refund (excluding shipping) or for a one-time-use 100% store credit (excluding shipping).

According to the Vision Council’s 2015 report, 92% of those who purchased their eyeglasses online rated their experience excellent or good. That’s slightly higher than those who purchased their eyeglasses at a brick and mortar store!

Final Details

During the ordering process, I selected from options such as tint, anti-reflective coating, and Transitions lenses which automatically darken when you go out in the sun.

I chose to get my glasses by standard shipping, but there are also expedited shipping choices that can be as quick as 7 days if you choose to do that for an extra fee. I got mine in just 9 days after ordering (ahead of expectations), along with a free case and cleaning cloth at no extra charge.

Zenni has their dependable customer service available every day of the year (24/7/365 via online chat, e-mail, or phone) and they will replace your glasses free of any charges up to a 30 day period if there is any manufacturing issue or damage upon you receiving your shipment.

The best part is that my health insurance covers up to $200/year for eyeglasses, which more than covered the entire cost of my glasses at Zenni. So this whole procedure cost me only the copay for my new prescription. If you have insurance you may be covered too. Flex Spending/HSA accounts can also cover your costs so check out you options when you buy, but keep in mind that the end of the year may mean use it or lose it!

Millions of people are now using online shopping for their glasses. I was long overdue to try it and I can tell you I feel great about my experience and my savings. I got exactly what I wanted with a perfect look and fit that I have already been complemented on. What do you think?

If you're in the habit of buying your glasses in a store, check out my experience of buying affordable glasses online at Zenni Optical.
Modeling the new spectacles

Check out the website for their latest deals and selection if you are in the market for a new pair right now! You will definitely save money if you do.

Do you wear eyeglasses? How did you buy your most recent pair? Would you be willing to try shopping online if it means saving significant money?


  1. Looking good Gary!

    We are a family of five and four of us wear glasses. So saving money on them is a big deal. I agree the regular brick and mortar stores can be very expensive, and depending on the options you select they can drive the price even higher.

    I have been wearing glasses since I was six, contacts for over 20 years now. We have not taken the plunge on buying glasses online yet, but have order contacts often online. We use Costco for our glasses these days and save a ton of money.

    1. I considered going to Costco myself because my mother-in-law has had good luck there. But as I implied above, I can do it online in my pajamas and I’m getting lazier as I get older! With your family needing glasses, I’m sure you’re working on the best ways to save. Good luck and thanks for your comments.

  2. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    Jon’s used Zenni Optical and had good luck. I haven’t but probably will next time I need new glasses. Progressives are just way too costly, and I could probably use a new pair of prescription sunglasses as well.

  3. Hi Gary – what timing on this post! I started wearing glasses in my late 30’s and my last pair of glasses (progressives with transition lenses) cost $900 but with some coupon it came down to $550. CRAZY for a pair of glasses. I am going to give Zenni Optical a try next time – your glasses look great!

  4. My wife bought glasses from Zenni in August. She LOVES them. She says their stylish, cheap and great quality. She can’t rave enough about them.

    Plus when my one year old son grabs them, she doesn’t freak out because she knows if they break that she can pick up another cheap pair.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. I got some vouchers/coupons from my union for eyewear and when my wife went to buy glasses, they were still very very expensive! Great infographic from Zenni. The only reason eyeglass stores can charge so much is because it’s a monopoly. I’m looking into getting glasses soon, I will definitely be skipping the brick and mortar stores and going online!

  6. I recently lost one of my lenses on my glasses. I went to the optical store and it was unbelievable the price they quote just for one lens! I asked her for my prescription and she said it was only good for one year. It ran out months ago. Since our coverage is only good for every 2 years I need to wait till June. Believe me I’m going to go try your company Zenni when it comes time. Great prices and thanks for the tip!

  7. Great review – Zenni is probably the last discount glasses company that I haven’t tried. I bought my first online pair from Coastal (which I really liked, but they weren’t exactly the cheapest, just cheaper) and my current pair are from, which are really cheap and fine for wearing in the evenings and once in a while, but when I wear them for several days in a row, they aren’t the most comfortable. Glad you found a good company!

  8. I’m glad you had a great experience with Zenni and quite handsome results! I haven’t used it yet but it makes a lot of sense. I like to have an extra pair of inexpensive glasses to take with me on trips in case I leave them behind somewhere.

    1. Yes, I am very happy with my experience at Zenni. Next time you’re in the market for a pair, I’d recommend you take a look at what they have. I would have bought a second pair but I promised myself I’d be really careful, so I hope not to loose or break them! But if I do, I’ll be going right back to Zenni for another pair. Thanks so much for your comment.

  9. Laura

    The new specs look great on you Gary. You are so right about getting your prescription checked before getting your glasses online. No matter how good of a deal you get online, it doesn’t matter if you order with an outdated prescription. Thanks for this informative post and have a wonderful day.

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