Talk to Me About Eyeglasses
October 24, 2019 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Warby Parker vs David Kind vs Zenni vs Shuron

For the past month I've been bothered by my eyesight. I feel like some things might be blurry, but I can't really tell if I'm making it up or if it's always been like this. I have a comprehensive eye exam scheduled in a couple hours.

If they tell me I need glasses, I'm planning on taking my prescription and ordering glasses online. Last night I ordered 5 frames from Warby Parker and 6 frames (you pick 3 and they pick 3) from David Kind. They'll be here in a week or so.

I'm paying out of pocket (with a flex spending account) because I've always had perfect eyesight and have never elected for vision coverage. Open enrollment starts in a couple of weeks and I'll probably elect for it then (depending on how much it'll cost and whether it's worth it).

It looks like Zenni is the cheapest. Warby Parker seems like a good value as well. David Kind is more expensive.

Polycarbonate vs Trivex lenses: worth the upgrade? Zenni charges about $30 to get Trivex. David Kind charges about $130. My understanding is the lens will be a bit thinner and a bit more clear.

Coating: I've heard that no coating is better than a cheap coating. How do I tell if a coating is a cheap coating?

Looks like Warby Parker will set me back about $225 ($145 for frames, $50 for blue-filtering lenses, $30 for upgraded lens material). David Kind runs about $470 ($340 for frames, $130 for upgraded blue-filtering lenses). Zenni comes in around $76 ($46 for frames and $30 for lens upgrades). How big do you think the difference in quality is between these three options?

I'll probably be wearing these every day, so I'm willing to spend some money if I think it's worth it.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Don’t leave zenni in the car. The lenses but more likely the tint and protection films MELTED, rendering them useless to me (I’m +5)
posted by tilde at 1:17 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I buy from Zenni because I only wear them for a few minutes before bed each night. My eye doctor checked them, though, and the prescription was way off. He said that's pretty common, in his experience.
posted by something something at 1:23 PM on October 24, 2019

Quality will depend on the strength of your prescription IME. Zenni will not make my prescription for any price. The only online service available to me was discountglasses, and they are usable but nowhere even remotely close to the quality of the ones made by my dr's office. If your rx is pretty low, and I must assume that it is since you've only just sort of vaguely noticed, then Zenni should be fine for your needs.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:24 PM on October 24, 2019

I have ordered a few pairs of glasses from Eye Buy Direct and they are great. I got two pairs for around $75. They are about comparable to Warby Parker, where I have also gotten glasses. My Zenni ones cost less and felt cheaper, but they were fine. I haven't noticed problems with the coating with any of them.

Make sure you ask for your PD when you get your eye exam. You'll need to to order glasses online. It's the distance between your pupils in millimeters. They won't add it to your prescription unless you ask for it.
posted by apricot at 1:42 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been happy with multiple pairs of Zenni glasses over the years but I would say they are overall cheaper in construction and materials than most more expensive frames. Not that they are bad, but one of my favorite pairs is lighter-weight plastic and squeaks a lot. YMMV.

While I don't think Warby Parker frames actually cost twice as much to manufacture I think they're a good way to get that higher level of quality without spending $500 or more. If you like them in person that's probably the way to go.

It might also be worth "gambling" the cost of a non-upgraded cheaper frame from Zenni. See what you think and then go from there, and either way you have a cheap second set of glasses.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:43 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It also looks like you might be in a city with at least one physical Warby Parker store. You might benefit from popping in for a visit just to see more of what they have.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:45 PM on October 24, 2019

My experience with Zenni has been pretty bad even with a prescription that isn't very strong. My experience with WP's lenses has been quite good if you get their frames fitted by somebody or if you luck into a pair that just happens to fit very well. Definitely go to the actual WP store if they've got one near you, because they'll actually do fitting/adjustments, which makes a huge difference, I think. You can luck into a pair that just happens to fit really well, but if you don't have to rely on that, don't.

If you've never had glasses before, your prescription is unlikely to be that strong. I'm at around -2.5 (I forget exactly) and have not needed the upgraded lenses in any of my glasses from Warby Parker. The coatings have been fine, but you don't want to wash them under super super hot water, I've been told, or that can damage them. I just use standard glasses cleaning wipes. The lens upgrade is much more important if you have a stronger prescription.

I don't know about any besides those two, but I wouldn't use Zenni again except maybe for emergency backup glasses, and I'd only do that if I couldn't afford a pair of the plastic-frame Warby Parkers.

Also, if you really need them for some part of your life, like driving, you do want a backup pair.
posted by Sequence at 1:50 PM on October 24, 2019

I have one pair from Warby, one from Coastal, and one from Eyebuydirect right now. They’re all fine, I think I did standard index/material plus coatings on all of them. WP didn’t have any frames with spring hinges that fit, which is a comfort preference for me, but Coastal and EBD offer sprung frames as well as acetate which tend to be higher quality.
posted by a halcyon day at 2:06 PM on October 24, 2019

Have you considered getting glasses at Costco? You can try on all their frames and have their optical department adjust the nose pads / ear stems to have them fit on your face. I think they're in the Warby Parker price range.

Any glasses you buy online will have to be adjusted to fit your face, otherwise they will pinch you or be misaligned to your eyes (and cause issues). Any glasses you buy without trying them on has the additional chance of not looking right or simply not fitting you at all.

Glasses are very personal, they become part of your face. Getting a pair of glasses that you don't like is a big waste of time and money. And buying them through a computer screen instead of in person increases that chance.
posted by meowzilla at 2:09 PM on October 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

someone at warby parker stripped the threads in the earpiece hinge of my pair so badly that the glasses couldn't be fixed.
posted by brujita at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2019

I've had prescription glasses for about 15 years. Until I was in my late 40s I had 20/20. I've used both brick and mortar stores, fancy and discount, and online.

1) Try just drugstore reading glasses. For driving I use very pricey progressive lenses and frames. But for work or home where I'm just looking at things right in front of me, I just use $6 reading glasses I buy on Amazon. That's worked for years. IMHO if you legit don't need glasses to drive, just try reading glasses at the drug store.

2) I've tried several places online for glasses and 100% hated everything I've gotten. For me, it's been a total waste of money and time. I would go to Costco, Wallmart, etc before getting glasses online.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:36 PM on October 24, 2019

I've ordered about eight pairs of glasses from Zenni and haven't been disappointed.
posted by christinetheslp at 2:36 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have, conservatively, ordered...25 pairs of glasses from Zenni? Probably more. I have a medium-high Rx (4 something) and I wear my glasses from the time I wake up to when I go to sleep. I wash them in the shower and dry them with a lens-cleaning cloth.

I have never had a prescription issue with Zenni. What I *have* had is glasses that just don't fit right, though the more pairs I order, the better this gets, because I have measurements to compare them to. I think the last 3 pairs I ordered from them all fit great.

Where Zenni really shines is if you want to have multiple pairs to change up your look (me), or if you're so rough on/careless with glasses that you break or lose them often. Oh, and if you want prescription sunglasses -- I wouldn't be able to afford them without Zenni.

Happy customer for ...probably 15 years now.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:44 PM on October 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Because you mention Shuron: I am wearing a pair of Shuron Ronsir right now; I like them a lot and they feel well-made, and although I really like the style I chose these because they're the real deal, pretty much the same since the 1950s and pretty much the frame whenever you see someone wearing browlines in a movie, so I have a soft spot for Shuron. But Shuron is a frame maker, I don't think you can buy direct - you need to go to an optometrist who carries the frame. The frames run around $120, so middle-of-the-road for glasses.

I always opt for high-index lenses on my daily-wear glasses; they are thinner, and they haven't given me any vision issues. My optometrist really pressed me to pay extra for anti-glare coating, but I have never gotten it; I do however get the anti-scratch coating.

After spending more money on my daily-wear glasses, I bought two no-frills pairs from Eye Buy Direct (a 'don't care if I get paint on them' pair and a pair of sunglasses) and I spent about $60 and am happy with them -- if you're not used to glasses, you may want to get a super-cheap pair to adjust to and get used to glasses before spending money on a spendy frame (plus then you have a spare pair in case something happens to your daily -wear glasses).
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:45 PM on October 24, 2019

I like zenni but it depends on the pair. REALLY good if you end up in contacts and just need nighttime or just-in-case glasses.

I also have bought from Eye Buy Direct, Coastal, and Bonlook. I think Coastal is some of the best quality of those but is more expense (frames start around $30 but many are much more, lenses around $20.)

Try some in person to at least see what types of frames and size you like (usually on the tag or on the frames like xx-xx-xxx which is lens width, bridge width, temple length)
If you have a low RX you probably don’t need to pay extra for thin lenses.
You want the anti glare coating
Don’t buy a ton of glasses right away 1) you may like a shape but it may not like your vision back 2) you may end up wanting contacts
posted by Crystalinne at 2:57 PM on October 24, 2019

i have had good experiences with zenni 9/10 times. however, after i bought a pair of expensive glasses store glasses, i CAN tell the difference in quality a LOT. but, i used to like changing up my glasses often for "fashion" and zenni was fine for that with a ~3.0 or so.

regarding the blue filter thing, i have it on my expensive glasses and HATE it. i can see reflections of things behind me and it is distracting and they are MUCH harder to keep clean, and in 2 years i haven't seen any reduction in eye fatigue or whatever they're supposed to help fix.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:05 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Physically trying on glasses will give you a better idea of what shape you want so I encourage you to go to a bricks and mortar store to familiarize yourself with various styles and colors.

From past experience, I know the lens height and frame width that I like (online sellers have all these measurements) and OMG, getting frames with nose pads was a life changer (narrow bridge). I've ordered from Zenni when they first came on the scene but don't expect their glasses to last more than a year without peeling/discoloring/breaking. The past few years, I've ordered from Firmoo and have been very satisfied with their quality and delivery time and they frequently have BOGO sales.

I am nearsighted, need glasses to watch tv and anything further away than that. I've always gotten the standard lens, no coatings.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:31 PM on October 24, 2019

Response by poster: Just had the eye exam. I told them up front when booking my appointment online that I just wanted the prescription so I could buy some cheap glasses online until insurance kicks in on January 1. They first tried telling me that they don't give out prescriptions, but will keep the prescription in my file for when I'm ready to buy some glasses from them.

I said that's awesome, but I paid to come in and get a prescription today, so I'd like to have that please. Dude told me they would mail it to me, and that due to HIPPA compliance he (the assistant) can't give me my prescription, only the doctor can, and he's now with another patient.

So I waited for my prescription and tried not to get mad that I'm missing a meeting at my kid's school, because I didn't really want to go to that anyway.

Here's my prescription.

They didn't write down my PD but I took a photo of the thingy and I think it's 63mm.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:22 PM on October 24, 2019

I went to a local Warby Parker recently to check them out, and I definitely found them cheap-feeling. Just a data point.

With that script, I'm not sure I'd pay for high-index lenses. I do, but I'm WAY blinder (-7.25).
posted by uberchet at 4:47 PM on October 24, 2019

Honestly, with a basic presbyopic prescription (read: aging eyes) without astigmatism (that's what the DS means), your best bet is drugstore readers. They are like $10. Maybe less. My mom's prescription is similar to yours and she just bought a million pairs at the Dollar Store to scatter around.

I mean, if you love the way one of the other frames makes you look, go for it. But WP and Zenni and others get all their pricing from myopics and astigmatics like yours truly, who need individually ground lenses and would be way overpriced for someone with your prescription. The high-index lenses are for moderate-severe prescriptions, to avoid the Coke bottle look, lens weight, and visual skewing/chromatic aberration when looking to the side. A +0.75 diopter lens won't have those issues.
posted by basalganglia at 4:56 PM on October 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sweet. I will check out the Warby Parkers and David Kinds that are shipping to me, but I feel better about going with something cheap from Zenni now.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:00 PM on October 24, 2019

you can literally buy something off a rack in a pharmacy, you don't even need to have that prescription with you when you do. you don't need to pay to have anything made unless you find a pair of frames that you cannot imagine living the rest of your life without.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:03 PM on October 24, 2019

You don’t even need anything from Zenni. You don’t actually need “real” glasses at all; you need off the rack (or internet) reading glasses
posted by MadamM at 5:12 PM on October 24, 2019

Response by poster: But I want to look like Edward Snowden or Kevin Costner from JFK.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:40 PM on October 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have had two pair from Zenni. Both garbage. Second were a replacement for the first pair. Didn’t bother getting replacements for the second. Went to Warby Parker instead. Much better.

I am convinced “blue blockers” are the homeopathy of eyeglasses. They do have an annoyingly-perceptible tint, though.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 9:49 PM on October 24, 2019

I have been buying from Zenni for around six or seven years and do not have any problems with them at all. They've had lifespans as long or longer than the expensive glasses I bought before.

I'm actually really shocked at all the problems people in this thread have found -- granted, my eyes are bad-but-simple (moderately strong prescription for nearsightedness but I have the same prescription in each eye, no astigmatism, no bifocals, etc) so maybe that helps.

Anyway, I heartily recommend Zenni to anyone who asks, I've never had a bad pair. I like them enough I have five or six pairs now so that I can get all fashion-y with them.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 10:26 PM on October 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have ~25 pairs of Zenni glasses and sunglasses. Never had a problem, and while some frames look slightly chintzy, many do not at all and are just as robust as more expensive ones. (Which I also have. having lots of glasses.) Extreme Zenni fan right here.
posted by Charity Garfein at 6:57 AM on October 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have been a Zenni customer for just over a decade now and keep coming back. The prescription is always right and they have the frame I like. The only issue I have is the aforementioned sunglass tint melting in the heat of a black car in a Georgia summer. In my case, it softened and got swirled by the cleaning cloth. But it was 100+F outside, and that was the summer the window frame melted, so that's probably reasonable.

One note, if that photo is the only one you have of your prescription, it might be incomplete. You need the axis measurements, too (unless your prescription is weak enough not to need it). The "I can't give you the prescription" thing is utter BS, btw. I wouldn't go back to a shop/doctor that tried to pull that.
posted by yggdrasil at 8:21 AM on October 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Hey, I'm you but a week in the future! Just returned my box of try-on Warby Parkers. My eyes are much, much worse than yours, though. I wouldn't pay for high-index lenses at your prescription, it's already going to be quite thin. This is my first time buying online, so I don't have any experience to share, but I do want to note that I have vision insurance (Eyemed) through my parents and the out of pocket costs for glasses are significantly more than buying them at Warby Parker or Zenni without insurance. $400 for just the lenses at Lenscrafters with insurance, $225-$305 including frames at Warby Parker. Zenni was I think $95? Somewhere around there. Obviously this is partially because I have such terrible vision, but it led me to read up on how vision insurance is owned by glasses companies who jack up their prices. In my experience it's pretty much only good for the coverage for a yearly eye exam, so if the cost of vision insurance is higher than the cost of one eye appointment, it might not be worth it.
posted by brook horse at 10:26 AM on October 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm on my third pair of Shuron frames. I highly recommend them if you have a hard time finding frames that fit the shape of your face/head like I do. Their comprehensive sizing covers every variation of bridge, eye, and temple. When I replaced my first pair, I kept the frames and changed them to sunglass lenses because I've never been able to find sunglasses that felt comfortable on my face.
posted by cazoo at 10:13 PM on October 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I ordered 5 frames from Warby Parker, and 6 frames from David Kind (you pick 3, they send you 3). Then after Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug's comment above I looked for a local Warby Parker location and it's like 2 minutes from my office, so I went there and tried on all their frames and selected one that wasn't on my list to try, so I'm glad I went.

I uploaded my prescription on Friday night (today is Wednesday) and they should be here Saturday.

My company's open enrollment starts today and it looks like I get $150 towards frames every other year, so I think I'm just going to decline coverage and pay for the occasional pair with my HSA. I got the basic lenses without blue light filtering. Warby Parker measured my PD at something like 58mm, and I had them do it twice (they got the same measurement both times), so I went with their measurement over the optometrist's (which I'm not sure they actually measured because it wasn't written on my prescription; I'm just going off the photo I snapped when he left the room).

Also: fuck that optometrist. The hard sell on frames combined with their reluctance to let me walk out of the building with a prescription in my hands made my blood boil.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:40 AM on October 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that optometrist is shitty, and you should not go back there. You should probably also, if you felt like it, review them online to note the pressure tactics and reluctance to provide your actual prescription, because it's gross and people should know they act that way.
posted by uberchet at 10:53 AM on October 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

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