Where do we find super cheap replacement lenses?
April 7, 2007 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Another question about eyeglasses, specifically replacing lenses for cheap.

My husband had Lasik eye surgery about a year and a half ago, the good news is he is no longer 'legally blind' and doesn't have to worry about not being able to see if the world suddenly revolts and he can't get glasses/contacts. (Yes that is the bottom line for why he had the surgery.) Unfortunately due to his extremely high prescription in the beginning, his eyes are still healing and are only at -.25 in one eye and pretty perfect in the other eye BUT both eyes still have the evil astigmatism. His eyes are too close to perfect to go in for a touch up, but they also may not get any better. (The eyes heal amazingly slow!) Therefore he will be needing some glasses for driving at night and watching TV and movies to avoid eye strain.

So the question at hand, he has frames he can use and we just want to get the cheapest lenses possible for them, although glare reduction would be nice if its not a huge increase in money. If its not dirt cheap he wont buy them, and suffer instead. We tried LensCrafters and they were not only horribly rude about it, they insisted that it wasn't possible to buy basic lenses for less than $184. (I am a little confused since I bought my $200 designer frames there with all the whistles my lenses could get a year ago for $290.98.)

We live in Stamford, Connecticut, US and its not exactly the kind of area where you can find discount places. Where can we find super cheap replacement lenses? Preferably in the area although we are not opposed to online shopping. I'm just a little weary about which places are reputable, and the annoyances of changing the prescription if it is incorrect.
posted by trishthedish to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Try Walmart. My sister needed a lens for her existing frames (not bought at Walmart) and needed to be on a plane in the morning. The person in the optical lab shaped a prescription lens for her right then and there, and was very nice about it.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:51 AM on April 7, 2007

Best answer: I just realized I need glasses about a month ago. I'm -.75 -.25 in each eye. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on my first pair since I wasn't sure what I wanted. I bought from http://www.39dollarglasses.com/ and I am very happy. My frames are good enough. I've noticed that they don't sit perfectly flat due some slight frame misalignment. But, the lens come with UV coating and scratch protection, plus I got the Anti-Reflective coating for not much more.

They also have $10 off coupons frequently. Check http://fatwallet.com to find them.

Here is a website that has reviewed several of the online eyeglass retailers.

I don't specifically know if you can get just replacement lens, but at $40 bucks you might as well get a new pair of glasses.

Good luck choosing!
posted by peripatew at 8:28 AM on April 7, 2007

The problem with replacing the lenses only is making them fit the existing frames, which seems tricky because they change styles so often. It might be easier and cheaper just starting with cheap ones from scratch.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 8:37 AM on April 7, 2007

Best answer: trish: go to costco in port chester. they do it for cheap.
posted by brina at 9:17 AM on April 7, 2007

www.39dollarglasses.com (the first google result for "cheap glasses") has a "Use your own frame" option. You need to mail them your frames, and a copy of an eye prescription and pupillary distance. So, you'd have to go to a cheap store nearby and tell them you want an exam and just need to get that information without buying glasses. Make sure they are OK with that.
posted by white light at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2007

I was going to second Costco. They usually have an in-store optometrist that is very reasonable. It seems to me the exam was about $60, and he gives you the prescription. He doesn't even tell you to go next door to the eyeglass section; it's yours to do with as you will (that includes ordering from 39dollarglasses.com). My glasses were reasonable too, ~$168 total including frame, sun-sensing lenses, non-scratch UV coating, and the works. The only downside is it took 7-10 days for t hem to arrive.
posted by ilsa at 10:01 AM on April 7, 2007

OK - I figured I would check for the nearest America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses to Stamford. The Stamford zipcode I entered into the store locator on America's Best's website (www.twopair.com) was 06901. Unfortunately, the closest store to there is 74 miles away, in Brick, NJ. However! Depending on your MPG it might actually be worth your time to make an appointment and drive there some Saturday. Because their big selling point is "Two pairs of glasses, and an exam, all for $69".

And it's for real! I got mine at the store here in Ann Arbor, and they have a wall of frames that are the "two for $69" variety. I believe the next wall up is "two for $89", and then maybe the more designer brands on a wall for "two for $129" or so. Bifocals are two for $99.

There are actually a decent amount of choices on the $69 wall, and this is where I got mine a couple years ago. I'm pretty sure you can choose 2 different pairs, or two of the same pair.

The catch is that they try to sell you Super-Whatever-Coatings and other add-ons to bump up the cost of your order. After declining the first couple offers, I said, "I came here for the $69 deal and that's all I want to spend. Just the glasses please." And that was that.

Downside : the exam felt pretty rushed.
posted by white light at 11:20 AM on April 7, 2007

thanks for the help everyone.

i do already have the prescription all set, written out by the lasik doctor, so no need for an exam.

we'll probably check costco and if they can't do it damn cheap, then 39dollarglasses it is. since i really don't even need them (i just have to squint a little sometimes watching tv from far away or reading street signs at night) and we got no kind of money, unless they are super cheap its not worth it to me.
posted by teishu at 6:35 PM on April 7, 2007

Funny, just bookmarked this article today about the retail markup on glasses. The company mentioned in the article for cheap online alternatives doesn't have a half-bad site.

posted by jeremias at 7:33 PM on April 7, 2007

Best answer: I asked at Costco two weeks ago for myself and they quoted me $55.00 for the lenses and 10.00 to fit to the frames. But that was an off the cuff quote and might vary once I start getting more specific.

I had LASIK done about six monthes ago but still need reading glasses.
posted by faceonmars at 8:51 PM on April 7, 2007

The last pair of (not especially fancy) glasses I bought from the optometrist was around $495!!! Insurance paid for most of that but I was still gouged for $198. Yes, I said gouged...
I ordered some (emergency backup, so I thought) bifocals from Eyebuydirect.com the same day, using the same prescription; they arrived in my mailbox the same day the optometrist called to say my expensive glasses were in... long story short, I had to return the expensive ones to be reworked, the $40 mail-order ones were just fine right out of the box. I'm now wearing the $40 glasses every day.
I just began researching this, and so far the cheapest deal I've found is Zenni Optical, at $8 for single vision clear glasses (frames plus lenses), $25 for clear plastic bifocals (lenses and frames). Add postage (in the US) and the $8 glasses cost $12.95, bifocals $29.95.
That's far cheaper than the cheapest price I've found for replacing lenses in old frames!!! Cheaper even than buying NOS frames on eBay and having new "replacement" lenses installed!!! On the other hand, if you really, really like the old frames, 39dollarglasses will put (clear single vision) polycarbonate lenses in your old frames- for $39; bifocals starting at $79. That's really not a bad deal, polycarbonate naturally blocks UV so you don't have to pay extra for UV coating (which should be standard on all lenses anyway, but that's another topic).
I'm looking at Zenni for some rimless bifocals for under $60, at that price I may add some options like tint and those special optional coatings.
So far I did buy a pair of the Zenni $8 single vision glasses with my reading prescription; in addition to the rimless pair I'm thinking about, I may eventually get a couple pair of the $25 bifocals as additional emergency backups (one to keep in the car, another at work, etc.)
It pays to shop around; while looking at rimless styles, I found a huge variation in price, even among online discount eyeglass places.
Bottom line, if you want cheapest price go to Zenni, if you want inexpensive quality try Eyebuydirect, if you want new lenses in old frames try 39dollarglasses.
posted by whlanteigne at 12:41 AM on July 3, 2007

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