Lots of websites sell eyeglasses these days. Many offer substantial discounts compared with the likes of eyewear chains (LensCrafters, Pearl Vision) and doctor offices and independent shops, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars off a complete pair of glasses.
You'll also find a much broader selection of frames online compared to what you'll find at discounters such as Walmart and Costco (which for years have earned high marks from Consumer Reports readers).
Online eyeglasses retailers such as Simply Eyeglasses also have a lot of useful information about how to choose frames and lenses.
Have you bought prescription eyewear online? If so, we may be interested in interviewing you for an upcoming article. Was the prescription filled correctly? Did the site help you resolve any problems? Will you buy online again? Send your comments, full name, and daytime phone number to: MoneyEditors [at] cr.consumer.org.
There are drawbacks to buying online, however, especially if you're purchasing lenses and frames. You'll have to provide your prescription information, wait for the glasses to arrive, and then deal with any issues afterward, which can be a time-consuming hassle. Buying online also means you won't have the after-purchase attention you'd get from a professional in a walk-in store, say getting your new frames adjusted.
Also, Web eyeglasses retailers typically don't take vision insurance, so you'll have to pay up front and get reimbursed by your plan, if you're even allowed to use out-of-network providers.
Before buying online, consider how much in-person attention you want. Also vet the site--some of the lowest-cost sites we've seen have received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. It's also wise to find out what a site's customers are saying by searching for the name of the site along with such terms as "review" and "complaints." And, of course, check out the site's return policy and warranty.
If you're concerned about getting your lenses filled online or have a complex prescription that includes bifocals or trifocals, an alternative is to buy only the frame online and have the prescription filled locally. You can do that at Walmart and Costco, though either will charge you a little more to add lenses to a frame you bought elsewhere.
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