The Best Online Glasses
Ultimate Buyers Guide

Best Online Glasses for 2017

The best online glasses stores have made the process of purchasing prescription eyeglasses a lot easier. Years ago, the best place to buy glasses meant visiting a store and trying on various frame styles. The styles available were limited to what could fit in the store.

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If you are among the 150 million Americans who wear prescription eyewear, ordering glasses online means you can pick out your next pair of designer eyeglass frames from the comfort of your home. While researching the best place to buy glasses online, I made sure cost, inventory selection, and delivery speed were at the top of my list. We've taken a close look at several online eyeglass stores. Below are our top picks for design options and service.

Key Considerations Before Buying Glasses Online

I've created this guide to help you find the best place to get glasses online for your needs. Finding the perfect pair of prescription glasses can be difficult, but online glasses stores are quickly becoming the most popular way to shop.

What are the benefits of buying glasses online? The cost of purchasing glasses online is considerably cheaper than buying glasses from your optometrist office. You're searching for the best discount prescription price, why not get deep discounts by buying your spectacles online?

Online retailers also offer a wide selection of frame and lens combinations, plus services to further personalize your prescription eyewear to your style and needs. Whether you're looking for sleek high-index lenses, protective anti-scratch coating, or an artsy pair of tortoise shell frames, you'll be surprised by the variety you can find without having to go back to the eye doctor office.

When looking for the best online glasses store, here are a few things to consider.

1. Frame Selection

The best place to order glasses online will offer a wide variety of frame styles and sizes, as well as flexible frame and lens configurations. The larger the selection, the easier it is for you to find high quality eye wear that flatters your face. According to the American Optometric Association, how the frames physically fit your face is as important as how they look.

When searching for online glasses stores, be sure they offer these types of eyewear:

  • Men's glasses
  • Women's glasses
  • Kids' glasses
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Multiple frame styles and materials (tortoise shell, stainless steel, titanium, etc.)

As you search for the best online eyeglass retailer, remember - you want discount eyeglasses, but you don't want cheap glasses.

2. Range of Eyeglass Lens Options

The type of lens available is important too. Ideally, the retailer will sell a lens that works with your prescription. Virtually any feature you could get at your eye doctor office is available when you order spectacles online, including:

  • High-index lenses (made of thinner, lighter material, ideal for very strong prescriptions)
  • Polycarbonate lenses (light, impact-resistant, full UV protection)
  • Anti-scratch coatings
  • UV/UB protection (a good choice when investing in designer prescription sunglasses like Oakley or Ray-Ban)

You want to be sure that you can get the options you need online, just as you would be able to from your eyecare professional.

3. Discounted Pricing

Between the cost of designer optical frames and the cost of lenses, glasses can be expensive if you do not do some online shopping for the best deals. Price points vary among the best online glasses sites. Just as you watch for specials in order to get a discount prescription, you'll want to compare prices in order to find the best discount eyeglasses as well.

4. Speed of Delivery

Even if you buy glasses from your local optometrist office, you might still have to wait a week or even longer before receiving them. Buying glasses at a brand name store like Pearle Vision, or at a pharmacy, can result in you dramatically overpaying, or getting glasses of such poor quality that they break just a month after purchase.

Shipping speeds vary among online glasses retailers. The best places to buy glasses online offer a variety of shipping options to meet your needs. If you need your glasses immediately, search for an online eyeglass store that offers overnight or expedited shipping. Other things to look out for are international shipping, return policies, and order tracking. When you're not buying your eye wear from a local eyeglass retailer, you want to make sure your chosen online retailer offers appropriate purchase protections.

5. Customer Service

One of the largest problems people run into when shopping for eyewear online is finding out the glasses they ordered don't fit them, don't have the right prescription, or don't look like how they appeared on the web page. The best online eyeglasses stores should provide an extensive help and support section to answer your questions and alleviate any stress. It is essential to be able to contact the online glasses store by phone or email, but live chat can connect you with a representative able to guide you through the buying process while you browse their selection.

This guide is a great primer on everything that is essential to buying glasses online but be sure to look for FAQs and other guides on the sites you consider doing business with.

Online Glasses for Men and Women

The biggest benefit of buying glasses in person is that you can try them on first. You get to look in the mirror and see whether a pair looks great on you or not. While you can't quite recreate the in-store try on experience when you buy glasses online, there are ways to be sure the glasses you pick will work for you.

  • Try on in-store, Buy Online. The best way to make sure the glasses frames you pick are flattering is to try them on in person before you buy. Doing so isn't always easy, though. You need to get to an optical store like LensCrafters or Pearle Vision, evade pushy sales people, then figure out the model number and style of designer glasses frames you like. There's also no guarantee that the pair of glasses you like in person will be sold online.
  • Try a Virtual Fitting Room. Technology has made it easier than ever to try on glasses virtually, without ever setting foot in an optical store. Many of the best online eyeglass retailers have virtual try-on rooms. You upload a photo of yourself or use your device's camera to see how certain eyeglass frames will look on your face.
  • Try on and Return. In-home try on programs recreates the in-store try on experience, minus the pushy salespeople. Some online glasses stores will send you a few different styles to try on for about a week. You return the pairs that didn't work at the end of the trial. Other stores have a flexible return policy, so you can get your money back if you return the glasses within the time window.

Type of Prescription Glasses

Everyone who wears glasses needs them for a different reason. Are you nearsighted or farsighted? Are you looking for stylish spectacles that make a statement? Or maybe you're looking for a sturdy pair of glasses with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses, built to withstand intensive activity? Here are the general types of glasses you'll encounter while online shopping.

  • Reading Glasses: Is fine text becoming blurry and a struggle to read? If so, you may need the best reading glasses which are designed to correct farsightedness. Readers can help reduce eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches. Depending upon your level of farsightedness, an eye doctor and reading eyeglass prescription are often unnecessary.
  • Designer Glasses: Eyeglasses can also be a bold add-on to your outfit. Although more expensive, designer glasses can make you look smart and sophisticated. You can even get them without prescription lenses.
  • Sports Glasses: The right sports glasses can protect your eyes from injury while enhancing athletic performance. Prescription eyeglass lenses with anti-scratch coating make these the ideal solution for active people.
  • Computer Glasses: These special glasses have a lens with a focal length set at arm's length, and anti-reflective coating designed to reduce the glare that may come off of the computer screen. Computer glasses may or may not require an eyeglass prescription from your eyecare professional.
  • Prescription Sunglasses: An essential accessory when going to the beach or fighting the glare while on the road, sunglasses can also be made to a prescription. Most online glasses stores make the ordering process for prescription sunglasses similar to normal glasses. Sunglasses with prescription lenses are available in popular brands like Ray-Ban, as well as with special features like anti-reflective coating.

How to Read Your Prescription

Buying prescription eyeglasses online is complicated by the fact that you need to obtain a prescription from your eye doctor and then enter the details yourself on the order form. If you don't understand what the abbreviations on your prescription mean, it can be like typing in gibberish. Here's a quick guide to the terms and abbreviations you'll find on your glasses prescription.

  • O.D. and O.S: O.D. represents your right eye and O.S. represents your left eye. Some prescriptions also have a column called "O.U.," which means both eyes.
  • Sphere: The sphere refers to the lens power needed to correct either nearsightedness or farsightedness. It's a positive number if you're farsighted and a negative number if you're nearsighted.
  • Cylinder: Your prescription will include values for the cylinder if you have astigmatism. A positive number is for farsighted astigmatism and a negative number is for nearsighted astigmatism.
  • Axis: If your prescription has a cylinder value, the axis value--a number between 0 and 180--represents the orientation of your astigmatism.

Types of Lenses

The first step to ordering glasses online is to leave your doctor's office with a copy of your prescription. It won't matter how trendy your new pair of glasses are if you can't see. Wearing glasses with the incorrect prescription can cause headaches, blurriness, and other vision problems.

If you're wearing glasses, you probably know whether you're nearsighted or farsighted, and what kind of prescription your glasses have. If you're buying glasses online for the first time, here is some information about the different types of prescriptions.

  • Single Vision: These prescriptive lenses are designed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms. They contain the same amount of vision correction throughout the entire lens.
  • Bifocals: Bifocals contain two prescriptions within the same lens and can correct both nearsightedness and farsightedness.
  • Trifocals: Trifocals, unsurprisingly, contain three prescriptions within one lens. The prescriptions are designed to correct distance vision, intermediate vision, and up-close vision.
  • Progressive Lenses: These are used if you need bifocals or trifocals. Progressive lenses, however, give you a smooth transition between the different focal lengths, avoiding unsightly lines.

The Best Place to Buy Glasses Online

GlassesUSA.com Review

  • Pros
  • 50% Off Sale
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Wide selection of glasses including discounted options
  • 14-day money back guarantee
  • Free shipping and returns
  • Cons
  • Clearance section is limited and offers prices not far below retail

GlassesUSA.com is one of the leading retailers for prescription glasses and sunglasses in the US. It offers a wide variety of designer frames, high-quality lenses at affordable prices and a full risk-free 14-day money back guarantee, which provides added peace of mind. In addition, they also produce all of their own lenses in a specialist laboratory.

When you are ready to choose your frames, GlassesUSA.com has a Virtual Optician facility to help you make a perfect choice as well as offering virtual try-on facilities. You will receive scratch resistant lenses with any frame that you purchase, along with extras such as a protective case and cleaning cloth.

GlassesUSA.com has a good selection of designer brands, such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Adidas and Calvin Klein. However, it is worth bearing in mind that there is not a huge amount of choice when it comes to frames for children.

GlassesUSA.com is a great site for adults who want ample frame selection, help picking out the right frames and lots of extras.

Warby Parker Glasses Review

  • Pros
  • Design and crafted in house
  • Glasses made with durable materials such as metal and Acetate
  • Multiple means of customer support
  • In-home trial where you can test five frames for five days for free
  • Cons
  • Doesn’t offer 24/7 customer support
  • Exclusive designs result in higher prices relative to other providers

Warby Parker is a great choice for online glasses. The company provides free shipping and outstanding customer service. Their 'buy a pair, get a pair' policy gives a pair of glasses to someone in need every time you purchase a pair. Because of Warby Parker, people in need can read, write and learn better than ever before.

Unlike many other online glasses sites, Warby Parker has a "home try-on" filter. You can shop for glasses that you get to actually try before you buy.

They also have an impressive return policy. When you buy cheap eyeglasses from Warby Parker, you have 30-days to make a return with no questions asked. They even provide a one-year, no scratch warranty for your lenses. They will replace your lenses for free if they get scratched within a year of your purchase.

Unfortunately, Warby Parker does not accept bifocal or trifocal prescriptions. It should also be noted that they also have a somewhat small collection of lenses compared to other site and don't offer children's glasses.

EyeBuyDirect Review

  • Pros
  • 365-day warranty
  • Contemporary styles designed in-house
  • Easy to navigate website with ample resources
  • Affordable prices
  • Cons
  • Customer service isn’t available on the weekends
  • Limited return policy of 14 days

EyeBuyDirect has a wide selection of eyewear for every member of your family. They carry fashionable designs for men, women, and children. Once you select the glasses you want, you have 14 days to try them out. If they don't fit you can replace them for free. What's more, with EyeBuyDirect, you receive a 365-day warranty.

If you have trouble reading your prescription, EyeBuyDirect has a great resource for you. You can visit its website, find the "how to read your prescription" tab, then watch the informative video, which details all aspects of your prescription.

A major downside of EyeBuyDirect is that they do not offer popular glasses from brands such as Gucci or Nike. The company does offer a fine selection of in-house glasses, however.

SmartBuyGlasses Review

  • Pros
  • 100-day returns
  • Best price guarantee -applies to sunglasses and eyeglass frames
  • Large inventory including the top brands
  • Two-year warranty on prescription eyeglasses
  • Cons
  • Limited customer support hours
  • Poor website design

SmartBuy.com has a huge collection of over 80,000 cheap eyeglasses for men, women, and children. SmartBuy has a buy one give one program similar to Warby Parker. They donate a pair of glasses for every pair of cheap eyeglasses you purchase.

They also have free shipping and a two-year warranty on manufacturer defects. If you have an issue, you can get replacement parts or glasses for up to two years.

Their virtual try-on option allows you to view your new eyeglasses on your face before you buy them. Their website is known to load slowly, though, which may affect the virtual try-on process.

On the downside, they don't offer bifocal or trifocal discount eyeglasses. If you're used to these, you may have to look elsewhere.

Coastal Glasses Review

  • Pros
  • Free shipping on all orders
  • Wide selection of popular and exclusive brands
  • Affordable selections
  • Money back guarantee
  • Cons
  • Lack of 24/7 customer support, outside of the holidays
  • Limited live chat feature

Coastal.com has a huge variety of eyeglasses for men, women, and children. If you need eyeglasses for your son or daughter, Coastal.com is the place to look.

They offer amazing deals on high-quality glasses to customers and provide free shipping within the United States.around the world.

As opposed to other online glasses stores, they don't provide a virtual or home try-on option. This could be a problem if you're worried about ordering glasses that don't fit. They do have a MyFit option for you to type your measurements into, but it's not the same as uploading a picture or trying on at home. If you're unhappy with your order, Coastal.com allows free returns within a year of purchase with no restrictions as part of their warranty.

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How to Choose the Best Eyeglass Frames for Your Face

When buying glasses online, the best place to start with is the frames. Maybe this if your first time choosing to buy glasses online ever and you have no idea what styles will work or what shape of frames you want.

Types of Frames

  • Full Frame Glasses: A full glasses frame has a rim that completely encircles the lens.
  • Semi-Rimless Glasses: These glasses are rimless on bottom, typically featuring a metal half-rim along the top.
  • Rimless Glasses: There is no rim at the top nor bottom of the lens on rimless glasses.

Guide to Eyeglass Frames

While picking out the best glasses frames, a good rule of thumb to follow is to match the shape of your face to the shape of your frames.

Rosin Eyecare suggests a simple process for finding your face shape. To figure out your face shape you'll need a mirror and an eyeliner pencil or marker. Looking in the mirror, make a dot on the left and right sides of your forehead. Make another dot on the edges of your cheekbones, near the eyes, and another dot on each side of the jawline.

When you look at the dots, it should be easy to detect the shape of your face.

  • Round: If you have a round face, the dots will appear to be equally spaced apart. Your cheeks look full and you most likely don't have sharp angles on your face.
  • Oval: If you have an oval face, the dots on your cheekbones are the furthest away from each other. The dots on your jaw and forehead are nearly evenly spaced apart.
  • Triangle: If you have a triangle-shaped face, the dots on your forehead are very close together while the dots on your jaw are far apart.
  • Heart-Shaped: If you have a heart-shaped face, the dots on your jaw are close together and the dots on your forehead are far apart.
  • Diamond: The diamond shape is similar to an oval-shaped face, except the dots on the forehead and jaw are closer together.
  • Square: If you have a square face, the three pairs of dots are close to equally far apart. Unlike a round face, your forehead and jaw are angular.
  • Rectangle: If your face is a rectangle, all three pairs of dots are close to equally far apart and your face is longer than it is wide.

Look for Cheap and Discounted Glasses

The cost of eyewear can be pricey, especially if you're in the market for designer eyeglass frames. There are a few reasons why it's easier to get cheap eyeglasses online.

Some companies offer their own brands of discount glasses. The frames and styles available are still stylish, but because there's no designer label attached, the price is usually much lower.

Another reason why many online glasses are cheaper than in-store models is that online retailers don't have to pay for brick and mortar stores or for the salespeople to run them. The costs savings are then passed on to you, the customer.

Online EyeGlasses Review Recap

Everyone's style is different. You might be interested in finding the perfect pair of designer frames. Another person might be more interested in finding the best cheap glasses online. The thousands of styles, brands, and price points offered by the best online glasses stores means anyone can find the perfect pair for them, all without leaving home. Just ask the 2.7 million people who found a pair of eyeglasses online in 2015.

The best online eyeglasses stores should provide an extensive help and support section to answer your questions and alleviate any stress.

While eyeglasses might be the perfect option for some, there are days when you might want to go glasses-free. If you'd like to find the best contact lenses online, I've put together a guide to help you do so. Like the best online glasses stores, the best online contact lens companies offer a wide range of options, speedy shipping, and great customer service.

You may be wearing these glasses every day, so you want to make sure you can find a pair that makes you look great!

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Online Glasses FAQs

Q What do you need to buy glasses online?

A

The first thing you'll need to know before you purchase glasses online is your prescription. You'll also need to know your pupillary distance, which is the distance, in millimeters, between your pupils. Once you know that information, you'll need to know what brand and style of frames, as well as extra features such as transition lenses, you'd like.

Q How do you buy prescription glasses online?

A

To buy eyeglasses online, start by entering your prescription and pupillary distance. You will then be given a list of frames to choose from. After you've chosen your frames, you'll need to decide on what features or lens coating, such as glare or scratch resistance, you'd like to add.

Q What is a PD?

A

PD, in reference to optometry, is your pupillary distance, or the distance, in millimeters, between your pupils. This is important information to know when getting glasses as your PD is used to ensure that your prescription is properly centered on lenses of your glasses.

Q Is my contact lens prescription the same as my eyeglasses prescription?

A

No, eyeglasses and contact prescriptions are not the same so if you only have an up-to-date contact lens prescription then you'll need to have a current eye exam conducted. These two prescriptions do have a few things in common including the lens power needed to adjust a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism). Contact lens prescriptions usually include additional information that is not necessary for glasses prescriptions like the base curve, diameter, material, and expiration date). Regardless of whether or not you're going to purchase contact lenses, an individual between the ages 20-30 should have at least one eye exam every two years.

Q What are some signs that I may need glasses?

A

Some common warning signs that you may require glasses are blurred vision, squinting, sensitivity to light, difficulties reading, frequent to severe headaches, and excessive tearing. It's strongly advised to get an eye exam by a medical professional at least once every two years for individuals between the age 20 and 30. By doing so, you'll be able to determine whether or not your vision can be improved through the use of corrective lenses and also to diagnose the health of your eyes. Most eye diseases have no pain associated with them which makes it even more important to have regular checkups.

Q What is a prescription (Rx)?

A

In layman's terms, the Rx is what ophthalmologist and optometrists give you with the specifications necessary to correct your vision. The Rx will be organized in horizontal or vertical rows which indicate the Sphere (SPH), Cylinder (CYL), and Axis. The sphere power is the overall power of the lens, the cylinder indicates the extent of astigmatism and correction necessary, and the axis is used for contact lenses that are designed to suit astigmatisms. On your prescription, if you see OD, that refers the your "right eye" while OS refers to your "left eye" and OU refers to "both eyes." Additions for near-vision reading may also be noted for the purpose of purchasing bifocals or progressive eyeglasses.

Q When did people start wearing glasses?

A

The first recorded instance of someone wearing glasses is from Italy in 1286 AD. This date is confirmed by a written sermon that was given by Giordano da Pisa, a Dominican friar in 1306. The sermon included the phrase "It is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses..."

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