Inexpensive Prescription Sunglasses
May 7, 2007 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I want to get inexpensive prescription sunglasses by buying drug store frames and inserting real lenses. The eyeglass place says I need to buy ophthalmological frames (which they sell for $100 and up) because drugstore sunglasses are too cheap and not up to the job. Is this the real deal or are they scamming me?
posted by cgs to Shopping (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I dunno, but if you have your prescription (you can often get an eye exam for $10 or so at Sears or Montgomery-Wards so if you keep your eye on the newspapers) you might check out these Web sites:

I know people who are even buying hearing aids over the Web now.
posted by Pistol at 8:00 AM on May 7, 2007

A lot of sunglasses frames have too much of a curve to them and the prescription lenses often can't match the exact curve so you end up with some blur. I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by mattbucher at 8:04 AM on May 7, 2007

Yeay, they aren't scamming you. Why don't you just go on ebay and buy some real frames there? They are super cheap. That's what I did and I am very happy with my glasses.
posted by Eringatang at 8:08 AM on May 7, 2007

Drugstore sunglasses are essentially disposable objects -- they aren't meant to be upgraded or repaired, so they're not built that way. The materials used are very different. The simple act of installing the new lenses would likely break most drugstore frames. You might be able to talk a lab into trying, but they would probably only do it on the condition that you pay them anyway even if it doesn't work. You're much better off trying one of the cheap glasses sites mentioned above.
posted by jjg at 8:14 AM on May 7, 2007

Response by poster: ok.... thanks everyone! i feel better hearing it from others...
posted by cgs at 8:26 AM on May 7, 2007

My gf had some cheap sunglasses she bought off a street vendor on Sardegna. She liked them so much she did go and have prescription lenses put in them (apparently the optometrist in naples didn't have a problem with it), but sure enough the frames have not proved up to the task - she's even had to have a mechanic solder the bridge back together once already.
So you might be better off getting some good frames - like Eringatang says they're pretty cheap on Ebay. I bought some very solid Prada frames there for 80 bucks
posted by Flashman at 8:36 AM on May 7, 2007

I totally vouch for I have three pairs of glasses from them, one of them sunglasses.
posted by loiseau at 9:14 AM on May 7, 2007

I have done this. The office gave me a hard time but eventually did if for me after I threatened to take my business elsewhere.

I didn't use super cheap sunglass frames - I used some plastic ones I found at an antique store.

Those $5 frames lasted a couple years.
posted by Formiga at 9:31 AM on May 7, 2007

why pay the loot for lenses and put them in frames that could be total shite, if they break, which they always seem to in a short span of time, then you'er out the frames too, unless they can reshape them to fit new frames, which might be impossible
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:41 AM on May 7, 2007

My sister has brought in sunglass frames to be fit with prescription lenses, with no problems. Seemed a common request. But, they were expensive sunglasses. Go with the suggestions here.
posted by clh at 10:08 AM on May 7, 2007

I second online glasses dealers.
I bought a pair of regular glasses from Zenni Optical and they're great. I paid like 2 bucks for a pair of clip on sun shades. You can also just buy tinted lenses to begin with and don't worry about the clip-on shade.

All in all, this can be done for (usually) less than $70 and it'll take about a week or two to receive them (how long it'd usually take if you ordered from the local eye glass shop)
posted by ijoyner at 10:25 AM on May 7, 2007

Oh, and a great blog dealing with questions people would have when shopping online for glasses is:
posted by ijoyner at 10:26 AM on May 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I bought 2 pair from last week. They're the real deal (among others).
posted by sourwookie at 10:48 AM on May 7, 2007

I used cheap sunglass frames as my regular prescription glasses, they lasted 3 years. I only quit using them because I got Lasik.
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2007

If you buy on ebay or something, then how do you get the lenses put in them?
posted by aacheson at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2007

My brother also has done this. He bought a decent pair of "faux" eye glasses (read: clear, useless lenses for appearance only) from Urban Outfitters for around $15, and then took the frames to a shop that did it for him. I think it may have even been Costco. Anyway, get your prescription from your eye doc and then shop around.
posted by Hackworth at 12:19 PM on May 7, 2007

If you buy on ebay or something, then how do you get the lenses put in them?
Myself, I bought frames on EBay from some woman in Brooklyn, they arrived here in the UK whereupon I sent them along with my prescription to a place in London; they came back within a few days with lenses perfectly installed and it all cost about half of what it would've cost if I'd just bought the same glasses from a regular optician.
posted by Flashman at 12:45 PM on May 7, 2007

I've used for bifocals and I have no (based on the amount of money I'm paying, and compared to the complaints I had with "real" eyeglass stores) complaints.
posted by shownomercy at 1:10 PM on May 7, 2007

If you buy on ebay or something, then how do you get the lenses put in them?

My presumption is that any store selling lenses can do this for you (ie, your lenscrafters, et al). OK, so I'm not sure if Lenscrafters *would* actually sell you lenses if you didn't also buy their frames, and they tend to charge a premium for their lenses anyways, but there should be plenty of opticians in Downtown SF or Oakland that would do it. Additionally, I'm pretty sure both CostCo and WalMart will throw in lenses for you regardless of whether you buy frames there or not.

I bought my last pair of glasses at a vintage frame shop in Manhattan and they sent me along to a place in Chinatown that popped in lenses for $90. I plan on getting some lenses for a pair of frames my GF picked up for me after I get a new prescription, and if I go somewhere in the Bay Area I'll check back and update with the location/price.
posted by fishfucker at 2:35 PM on May 7, 2007

As mentioned upthread, many cheap sunglasses simply are not meant to be taken apart. Inserting and removing lenses can be difficult at best.

Additionally, fitting lenses to the frame can be very difficult. Wraparound and high-fashion frames can often have too much of a curve, or be simply the wrong shape for a prescription lens.

Also, your prescription may not be suitable for any old frame. If you require a certain power of lens, you may have to settle for frames which have smaller lenses, otherwise the lens may be very thick at the edge.

Furthermore, the durability and warranty of the frames is in question. Many optician's frames come with a 2 or greater year warranty against wear and tear, which you are unlikely to find in a pharmacy or similar style pair of sunglasses.

Finally, many cheap sunglasses are not adjustable. When dealing with prescription lenses, distance and orientation from the eyeball is significant, especially if you intend on wearing them for driving or long periods of time.

When I could still get presecription sunglasses, I used an optician for them.
posted by ysabet at 8:38 PM on May 7, 2007

Don't use optical4less.
They posted a fake/spam message on Askme a year or two ago, and to my embarrassment, I endorsed them.
This is the karmic post to bring the universe back into balance.
That said, I have had good results with online opticians.
posted by bystander at 8:57 PM on May 7, 2007

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