Shoppin' for eyeglasses
October 20, 2014 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm an adult who needs to buy glasses for the first time. Are there good websites for buying frames online? Not sure how to shop for glasses. ... Here's another question. One of my ears has a horrible cancerous deformity benign lump behind it that occasionally makes my sunglasses sit crooked. Is it feasible to get frames that just clamp onto the bridge of my nose? Bad idea? Can you point me to some frames that are different from the standard ear hook variety?
posted by dgaicun to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I recently bought frames online for the first time and had a great experience with Zenni. You need to go in person first to get an exam and a prescription somewhere, then use that data (plus pupillary distance, which you may have to press a little to get) to specify your prescription online.

So far I've ordered 8 pairs and Zenni has gotten my wacky prescription right every single time. They all fit and are not flimsy or poorly constructed. Very pleased. No idea about your fit issue, but maybe this is a starting point? It is definitely possible to buy quality glasses online, and this gives you a much wider range of options than you'd find in any physical store.

Also, any glasses place will adjust your fit for free, even if you didn't buy your glasses from them. Have you had any luck with having one arm bent purposely to accommodate your ear thing? If you went in at a slow time with a pair of cheap plastic glasses, I bet you'd find a nice technician who wouldn't mind doing some trial and error.
posted by jessicapierce at 8:56 AM on October 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

My perfectly fitted eyeglasses don't touch the backs of my ears or hook around them. They rest on the tops of my ears. I'm mentioning this because sunglasses are often one size fits most and it sounds like you may not have worn fitted glasses before.

Just get a good fit at a place you like and trust. You can go in early and try on frames without a prescription and talk to the person who fits them. Believe me, they have seen just about everything.

Nose-pinching frames are a bad idea. :)
posted by mochapickle at 9:01 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suggest a local place, who has an optician who can adjust the temple to your snowflake ear. Everything on glasses is adjustable, and an optician will make your glasses fit right.

That said, Warby Parker has stylish cheap glasses.

And get something slightly weirder that you think is normal, you'll be happy you did.
posted by bensherman at 9:02 AM on October 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

And get something slightly weirder that you think is normal, you'll be happy you did.

This is great advice! My new glasses are weird and even borderline ugly, but I love them and am so sassy when I wear them that I've stopped wearing contacts altogether.
posted by mochapickle at 9:03 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

The tricksy part to ordering glasses online is measuring pupil distance; the Warby Parker site has an excellent tool for this. The Zenni site is cheaper and has a wider range of frames.

As for non ear-frame glasses, I think the term you're looking for there is pince-nez. Although I do tend to associate them with Hercule Poirot.
posted by Diablevert at 9:08 AM on October 20, 2014

Ask Metafilter often goes nuts recommending the super cheap online sites, and the price markup when you buy at a optical store can be insane (and fueled by the Luxottica monopoly). However, I've had terrible luck with purchasing glasses online and if you are at all non-standard in your fitting (as you clearly are), you are better off finding a frame that works for you in a brick-and-mortar store.

Totally agree with getting bold/weird frames.

Also, Oakley makes a lot of frames that do not wrap around the back of the ear, so that might work well for you.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2014

My prescription merits a specific kind of frame. I'm glad I went to an optician and had them review the scrip and recommend frames that would work well with it.

Also, they have hot sand on the premises so they can warm the earpiece and make repeated fitting to insure complete comfort.

If you have prisms or progressives, don't buy on-line.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:16 AM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Zenni's a great, cheap option but 98% of the frames on there aren't stylish and the build quality of the frames, at least in my experience, isn't phenomenal. But, if you're willing to look through all of the frames on there, you should be able to find at least half a dozen frames that will appeal to you. And if you're careful with your frames they should last you a long time—perhaps even years. Warby Parker, though more expensive than Zenni, has way fewer frame options than Zenni—but most of them are stylish and are better built than ones (I've tried) from Zenni.

If style and very high build quality is important to you, go with Warby Parker; just know that you'll be paying two or three times as much money as you would from Zenni (which, honestly, isn't that expensive as you'd still be paying way more in walk-in glasses shops).

For the record, I like both stores equally. I love Zenni's customization options and no other glasses site I can think of—online or physical—offers better bang-for-your-buck when it comes to glasses.
posted by GlassHeart at 9:17 AM on October 20, 2014

Also, as others have said, get a local optician to adjust the temple to your snowflake ear. I believe this can usually be done for free (at least it can be here in Canada).
posted by GlassHeart at 9:20 AM on October 20, 2014

I've been very happy with my orders from
And nthing the "Get bold, weirdo frames." I have some massive cateye glasses that have become my favorite things.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 9:28 AM on October 20, 2014

Oh! I meant to add that you can usually take glasses to an optician and have them adjust them, you may just have to pay a fee if you didn't purchase them there. Not all places will do this, so call around in your area.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 9:42 AM on October 20, 2014

im wearing my zeni frames right now! they've lasted about 3 years so far. I typically buy 3 or 4 wildly different freames and home at least one pair fits ok.

Warby Parker's at home try-on system is EXCELLENT. i tried it last week and was super impressed with how easy it was to get and how quick they got to my doorstep. None fit me, but that's besides the point 8)
posted by rebent at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2014

I just ordered this pair from and I'm very pleased. Not only are they progressive bi-focals, but my self-measured pupil distance was so out of normal range that they asked me to confirm it twice during the ordering process. They were under $200; off-line they would be closer to $500.

I had a great experience but I also had my old (single-vision) pair of glasses so I knew the exact measurements I wanted. I would definitely find a pair of frames you like IRL and use those measurements (I believe most readers have them, too) when looking for frames. You can upload your picture but it's hard to know how they will really fit otherwise.

You haven't mentioned if you have a current prescription but if not you can ask the optometrist to put you pupil distance on the prescription.

Echoing mochapickle above, these are the first glasses I've had that just rest on top of my ears and I don't even feel them.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2014

The typical reaction people have to the idea of places like Zenni is, "What if I don't like the glasses I get?"

Think of it this way: how much are you going to pay for glasses in a store? $250? $500? Do the research to find what size and shape glasses you think you'll like then buy, say, four pairs from Zenni for $100, shipped. Then if you like even one pair, you're not only set for a fraction of the cost, but you'll have three extra pairs for backup.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:22 AM on October 20, 2014

Zenni is so cheap that you can try them, and if it doesn't work out, go the more expensive route. And you still have a pair you can just keep in your car or something.
posted by spaltavian at 11:38 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could probably even get an optician to adjust your sunglasses to sit un-crooked! They just heat up the plastic and bend it. I do it myself with a hair dryer.

My primary glasses are from Warby Parker but part of the appeal for me was that there's a Warby Parker store in my city and I was able to get them adjusted (to my one-ear-higher-than-the-other, super-wide face).

I've also ordered from Zenni and 39DollarGlasses and they're very cheap and not as stylish, but there's a lot of selection.

I agree with the "go weird" advice - I had a cateye frame with inlay that I had SEVERE misgivings about right after I picked it out but I loved those glasses and wore them until they broke.
posted by mskyle at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2014

The kind of temple that sits straight on top of your ear and stays on my squeezing the sides of your head instead is sometimes called a bayonet temple. They seem to be more common on sunglasses (AO Original Pilots, perhaps most iconically), but that search term might help your quest.
Someone upthread mentioned Oakley frames, too. I'll second that they often have bayonet temples, and have some styles I liked before I completely sold my glasses-wearing soul to Warby Parker.
posted by willpie at 11:56 AM on October 20, 2014

Nthing Zenni.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:09 PM on October 20, 2014

I agree with Ruthless Bunny - if you have progressives, prisms, or anything where you want good adjustment, don't buy them online. Buying frames online and having an optician make the lenses is a decent way to save money on the frames and still get good lenses. Especially if you've never worn glasses before, having someone who can help if you're having problems adjusting is really worth it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:41 PM on October 20, 2014

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