Eyeglass Frames online or in NYC
May 15, 2019 10:15 PM   Subscribe

I just got a very light prescription for reading glasses, now I have to find a frame.

Never having had glasses before, I'm a bit clueless. I liked something like this pair but in black. I don't really like Warby Parker ones. I've asked friends but honestly I don't like any frame that anyone I know wears either. What are some places in NYC and online that carry nice frames?

Also is what they end up costing just based on your insurance plan and how fancy you want to go, what's a reasonable range for the cost of eyeglass frames.
posted by whatdoyouthink? to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
When I first learned that I needed reading glasses, my optometrist gave me a prescription but she also told me I didn't need to have the prescription filled. She recommended that I simply purchase store bought reading glasses. I didn't listen to her, at least, not at first. Instead I picked out a pair of frames that I thought looked good on me - it was a waste of money. I was constantly taking them off and putting them on again so the lenses were smudgey and quickly got scratched. A few months later I decided to give the store-bought reading glasses a try. They worked just as well as the prescription glasses, but I was able to buy them in lots of different colors and styles so that they would match different outfits, and I don't think I ever spent more than $20 on a pair of fancy readers. I even got a handful of the super cheap Dollar Store readers that I placed around the house in convenient locations. Eventually (about 15 years later) my eyesight got worse. Now I wear progressives and it makes sense for me to invest and a good pair of frames and lenses because I wear them all day long.

I'm sorry, I know I'm really not answering your questions, but I was once in your shoes, and this was my experience.
posted by kbar1 at 12:12 AM on May 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I buy readers with hinges that flex (more comfortable and last longer) on Amazon. They're a black Wayfarer style, which looks classic and fits most faces without looking like the readers that sit near the tip of your nose. Here's a clear version. Getting custom frames for readers becomes and expensive and unnecessary game as the nicest thing you can do for yourself is buy many pairs so that you can leave them all over the house, in your bag, and at work.
posted by quince at 2:26 AM on May 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a low prescription as well. I also have good vision insurance.

I have an expensive pair of frames from See in a style I liked for a while then got tired of and don't want to wear anymore. And I have 3 frames from Zenni. The quality honestly is only marginally less than the See frames and they're super inexpensive so I can change them as my tastes change.

My insurance reimbursed the Zenni frames with no problem.

I will never buy frames that cost more than $100 ever. The industry is such a racket. If I do ever end up having a more complicated prescription I will probably still buy the inexpensive frames online and take them to a better optical shop to have the lenses made and fit. (This is absolutely a thing you can do by the way, and your insurance will still pay for the frames and the lenses from two different places.)
posted by phunniemee at 4:32 AM on May 16, 2019

LOOK OPTIC is the Warby Parker of readers. Still too expensive (~$70 each), IMO, but they are stylish.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:36 AM on May 16, 2019

Oh by the way, everyone who is suggesting readers that's fine if that's what your vision script is for, but a "light prescription for reading glasses" does not equal readers.

I have a light prescription for reading glasses and it's because I'm a little bit shitty in one eye in one direction and a little bit shitty in the other eye in the other. They offer me the most benefit at reading distance but they are not "readers" with a equal + in both eyes. Those would not do any good for me.

So OP keep that in mind while shopping.
posted by phunniemee at 4:41 AM on May 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you've never worn glasses before, buying online will be tricky because you won't know what size frame to get. I suppose you could go around to the shops, find a pair you like that fits and copy down the size (a series of three numbers written on one of the side pieces). It also helps if you can narrow down a shape that you like, round, oval, aviator, rectagular, traditional, cats eye etc.

Drugstore readers are basically magnifying glasses and both lenses are the same magnification. If your prescription doesn't vary much per eye, then that's a possibility. All the drug store frames are positive magnification, +1.50, +2.00, +2.50, etc. (Bring a book to test them even if you have a prescription). Computer glasses are for reading at a longer distance, 18" or so, and would require a different strength.

I buy single-vision glasses online at Firmoo. The prescription lenses are included in the price (sometimes online retailers charge separately for lenses and frame). I usually pay around $39 and frequently they have BOGO sales, esp for new customers.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:42 AM on May 16, 2019

I’m on team Zenni optical. But then I can’t enjoy spending four times as much for the same Chinese frames everyone else is selling too. When I discovered Zenni and realized glasses could be used as a consumable, disposable item it was a revelation.
posted by spitbull at 5:51 AM on May 16, 2019

Nthing Zenni. If I were you, I'd go to a brick and mortar store like LensCrafters or some such, and try on 1,000 pairs of glasses until you get an idea of the size/shape/style of glasses you might like. Once you have it narrowed down to a few pairs, make notes of the measurements on the inside of the arm. They'll be for the width of each lens, the distance between the lenses, and then the arm length. Then go to Zenni, and search for glasses that meet your size needs and style preferences. Even if you end up hating them, it's only a waste of like $20. It's also how I discovered that a "reputable" optometrist that I'd gone to had sold me children's glasses (I have a small face), but the arms weren't long enough to reach behind my ears, and I didn't know any better at the time. That was a $300 mistake on my part. Now I have several pairs of Zenni glasses, including my favorite pair that I've had for three years of near daily wear that are still going strong.
posted by csox at 6:24 AM on May 16, 2019

Zenni Optical can do a pair of single vision glasses for like $20 or less. They’ve done well for me for many years. Only downside is that shipping takes a couple weeks.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:25 AM on May 16, 2019

Zenni made me some progressives. Their method of measuring ID led me to put in “61” instead of the correct “69.” $110 for glasses that are like looking in a funhouse mirror. They claimed they’d send me a return label but I have been waiting for that for a few days with no activity. So my experience is definitely that Zenni allows you to treat eyeglasses as “a disposable.” But not in a good way.

$5 readers, however, are great. I have six pair scattered between home and work.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:48 AM on May 16, 2019

Nthing Zenni; it is such a no-brainer. As for reasonable price... even if you add on a bunch of bells and whistles on Zenni glasses (higher index lenses, polarization, oleophobic coating) they'll still come in under $100.

One caveat with the online eyeglasses route is that you'll need to know your pupillary distance, which eye exam places don't always include on the prescription. (And they may get huffy if you ask for it, because they know you're going to buy cheap glasses online instead of their outrageously expensive frames.) But, you could probably walk into a Warby Parker store and ask if they could measure that for you. (Might be worth calling to ask first, but my impression from the staff at their Cambridge MA store was that they'd be happy to do it with no strings attached.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:17 AM on May 16, 2019

Those are cute frames!

I work for an optical company, so I get frames at cost. Some of my favorite frames (here in the US) that I bought last year are $40-100 at cost value. So a brick and mortar store might sell them at $100-300+.

I've had glasses since I was a child, so treating them as disposable is just ... not possible for me.

You can type in your zipcode to this Eye Care Professional website to find places near you that will sell glasses. They should have frames you can try on, too!
posted by jillithd at 9:48 AM on May 16, 2019

I have a pair of prescription sunglasses that I bought from Costco. I think that were about $100 for a complicated prescription. We have encountered lots of happy Costco eyeglass customers.

It might not work for you if you obsess about style, though. The selection is not as big as at a regular eyeglass place like Lenscrafters.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2019

You might try Fabulous Fanny's NYC. They have a big collection of mostly retro styled but newly-made frames. They have lots of heavy black retroish frames like the ones in your photo.

They are not a full service optician - you will have to take the frames somewhere to have lenses put in. If you ask they'll recommend a local partner shop.

I had fun looking around there when visiting, and bought a frame that is much funkier than I usually wear because I loved it and it fit great.
posted by fritley at 2:07 PM on May 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I use readers.com for my reading glasses. Lots of frame options, and very reasonably priced. I have two pairs and they're good quality.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:13 PM on May 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

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