Monday, April 7, 2008

Eyewear On The Cheap

The blue and purple pairs are those I ordered online;
the brown pair came from Wal-Mart.

A few of months ago, I was intrigued by a couple of posts I read about ordering prescription eye wear online (this one, then this). So much so that I decided to give it a try.

We have great optical insurance, but even with insurance, my glasses can cost around $125 dollars each year. My prescription is not strong, but has needed to be changed every year since I started wearing glasses about 6 years ago. This year, my prescription changed from bifocals to trifocals, and knowing that online eye wear retailers don't sell trifocals (yet), I went ahead and ordered my glasses from Wal-Mart. Why W-M? Well, because they take our insurance, while most private practices and even places like LensCrafters do not.

Although I'd be wearing the trifocals most of the time, I wanted a couple more pairs of glasses. I wanted a pair with just my distance prescription for watching TV. When I'm in the recliner, which is anytime I'm watching TV, my line of vision is through the lower (stronger) part of my glasses, meaning I can't see the television well. I also wanted a pair of "computer glasses" that would be bifocals with just my close and mid-range prescriptions.

Going the least expensive route possible at W-M, the TV glasses would cost me $48, and the computer glasses would cost $68, after any remaining insurance benefit (toward frames) was applied. That's $116 for the two pairs (plus sales tax of about 8.5% added to the pre-insurance amount.)

After reading the blog posts above and all of the respective comments, I decided I wanted to order my glasses online from a company called Zenni Optical. Using my prescription from Wal-Mart and Shane's help in measuring my pupil distance, I put in my order to Zenni for the TV glasses and computer glasses. I used my existing glasses to get an idea what size lenses and frame width to order and the numbers in the prescription took care of the strength of my lenses (one is stronger than the other) as well as the correction needed for my astigmatism.

The total for both pairs, including shipping, was $41, and there was no sales tax.

The glasses took 12 days to arrive. Shane is the only person who has ever been able to adjust my glasses to my liking, so I had him fit the new ones for me, and I couldn't be more pleased with them. The lenses are correct and the frames are comfortable. Granted, the selection of frames was more limited than you might see in person, but I chose frames similar to the ones I liked in the store, and I'm very satisfied with them.

So, right off the bat, I saved at least $75. But that's not all. Because I used my old frames for the glasses I ordered from Wal-Mart, I hadn't used any of the insurance allocated toward frames. Our insurance doesn't require we get the frames or lenses from a brick and mortar store, so I sent in my receipts. Because Zenni includes the cost of single-vision lenses with the cost of the frames, our insurances ended up paying everything but the $17 bi-focal charge on one pair and the $5 shipping charge.

In the end, my total out-of-pocket cost for the two Zenni pairs was $22 . So, not even taking the sales tax into consideration, my total savings was $94.

Naturally, the true test is whether these are good glasses, and I believe they are. I'm not sure, but I suspect Zenni, and other online eye wear sellers, also supply prescriptions lenses to many of the retail venues. In that case, your lenses, no matter where you bought them or what you paid, may have come from Zenni, too.

My opinion, overall, is a very positive one. I'm happy as can be with the two pairs of glasses I ordered from Zenni, and would've ordered the trifocals from them if I could have. I suppose if you have a complicated prescription, this may not be the choice for you, but if you have a relatively simple prescription and would like to save some cash, I wholeheartedly recommend ordering eye wear online.


Donna said...

Way to shop Girl!! That's a wonderful savings!hughugs

Annie Jones said...

That's what I thought!