As someone who has worn glasses since I was 3 years old, I know the struggle of getting a new pair of glasses all too well. From the lengthy process to the jaw-dropping (and not in a good way) price tag, it’s all too much. But thanks to modern technology and some ingenious entrepreneurs, you can now easily shop for prescription eyeglasses online.
While convenience is certainly one of the biggest pros of buying prescription glasses online, another huge benefit is a lower price tag. These online retailers cut out middlemen, like brick-and-mortar optical shops and third-party manufacturers, then pass those savings on to you. That means, in some cases, you can get a new pair of specs for just $6. And yes, that includes the lenses.
The best online prescription glasses stores also accept vision insurance or funds from flexible spending or health savings accounts, so if you’re looking for a way to use up FSA or HSA dollars during the year, this is it. And don’t forget, you can find some excellent prescription kids glasses and blue light blocking glasses online, too.
Where To Buy The Best Prescription Glasses Online
Making really good prescription glasses requires an advanced level of skill and some serious attention to detail, something that not all online retailers have. To help get you started, I put together this list of the best places to buy prescription glasses online. If you’re in the market for a new pair of prescription glasses, you can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list. While each retailer stands out in its own way, they share commonalities, like fair prices, a wide range of styles and a virtual try-on process.
Best Variety Of Prescription Glasses
GlassesUSA: A Selection That’s Hard To Rival
Best Classic-Style Prescription Glasses
Liingo Eyewear: For Classic Styles To Bold Frames
Best Glasses For Any Budget
EyeBuyDirect: Frames Start At Just $6
Best Value Prescription Glasses
Zenni Optical: Get A Prescription Pair For No More Than $50
Best Blue Light Prescription Glasses
Felix Gray: These Glasses Do Double Duty With Blue Light Blocking
Best Designer Prescription Glasses
Frames Direct: A Vast Selection Of Designer Frames
Best Online Buying Experience
Warby Parker: An Online Retailer That Offers At-Home Try-Ons
Best Quirky Prescription Glasses
Eyebobs: Unique Frames For People Who Like To Stand Out
Best Affordable Luxury Glasses
DIFF Eyewear: Luxury Frames At Budget-Friendly Prices
Best Glasses For All Face Shapes
Eyeconic: Filter Styles By Your Face Shape
Best Changeable Prescription Glasses
Pair Eyewear: Clip-On Toppers Change The Look Of Your Frames
Best Tried-And-True Glasses Retailer
LensCrafters: The O.G. Of Prescription Glasses
How To Shop For Prescription Glasses Online
If you’re new to online prescription glasses shopping, it can definitely feel like a large departure from the traditional way of going to your eye doctor or an optical shop and trying on frames in person. But in this case, we think change is a good thing—and it’s really easy. Here’s how you do it:
Get A Current Prescription
No matter which online prescription glasses store you choose, you’ll need a current prescription. In most cases, this means you’ll have to make an appointment with your regular eye doctor first, although some stores, like Warby Parker, allow you to schedule an eye exam right through its website. The actual exams are still done in person though, as it’s important for your eye doctor to get a close look at your eyes to make sure everything is healthy and functioning as it should.
That said, there is an exception when it comes to renewing prescriptions. Some sites, including Warby Parker, let you renew your prescription via a virtual vision test, but only if your health qualifies and your current prescription is still working for you. It’ll likely cost you, but not much (Warby Parker’s exam is $15, and only if your prescription is renewed).
Measure Your Pupillary Distance
In addition to a current prescription, you’ll also need your pupillary distance (or PD), which is the distance, measured in millimeters, between the centers of your pupils. This number is essential because it represents the spot on the lens that you’ll actually be looking through. If it’s off, you may be left with blurry or distorted lenses.
You can measure your own pupillary distance—Zenni Optical provides a step-by-step guide on how to do it—but for the most accurate results, your best bet is to have your eye doctor measure it during your eye exam and give you that number with your prescription. There’s also the option of using apps, like EyeMeasure, or online tools, like Warby Parker’s PD measuring tool.
Virtually Try On Frames
Once you have your prescription and pupillary distance ready to go, the next step is virtually trying on frames. Most online prescription glasses stores offer some type of virtual try-on that you can access through your computer’s webcam.
It’s also helpful to know which types of frames work best for your face shape and your prescription. For example, round frames look best on square and round faces, while rectangular frames complement oval faces. If you need help determining your face shape or choosing a style, EyeBuyDirect has a visual guide that can help.
Another option is to visit optical stores in-person and try on similar frames there. Often, you can find the same models online that you tried on in store.
Place Your Order
The last step in shopping for prescription glasses online is placing your order. Typically, you’ll add your frames to your cart then enter your prescription and pupillary distance at checkout. Triple check your information before hitting submit, as one wrong number can make a huge difference in your new specs.
Make sure you try on your new glasses as soon as they arrive. Most online glasses stores offer an accuracy guarantee—if the glasses aren’t right, they’ll replace them or send you a new pair—but you’ll have to let them know quickly, usually within two weeks to 30 days of receiving them.
Keep in mind that it can take some time for your eyes to adjust to new glasses, especially if the prescription has changed significantly. Give yourself up to a week to get used to your new pair and if you’re still having problems, reach out for troubleshooting tips and/or a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions About Buying Prescription Glasses Online
Is It Cheaper To Buy Prescription Glasses Online?
In many cases, yes. While designer frames still have hefty price tags, online glasses brands tend to be much cheaper (and just as stylish) as their name brand counterparts. Further, the direct-to-consumer style of shopping online cuts out third-party mark-ups.
Can I Order Glasses With An Old Prescription?
No. Reputable prescription glasses retailers require you to upload a copy of a recent prescription before creating your order and will not accept expired prescriptions.
Is There A Way To Get A Glasses Prescription Online?
No, an in-person exam is required to get a new prescription. That said, there are a few online glasses retailers, like Warby Parker, that let you renew your prescription via a virtual vision test, as long as your health is in good standing and your current prescription is still working for you.
What Measurements Do You Need To Buy Glasses Online?
Aside from your prescription, you’ll need to know your pupillary distance (PD) to order a comfortable pair of specs online. The PD refers to the distance between the centers of your pupils. If this measurement is off, you can experience blurry or distorted vision (and dizziness and headaches as a side effect) while wearing your glasses.
While you can measure your own PD (check out Zenni Optical’s step-by-step guide and Warby Parker’s PD measuring tool), your best bet for an accurate result is to get the measurement from your optometrist.
How Do I Choose A Pair Of Glasses?
There’s a lot to consider, including your budget, style and the ability to customize your glasses with add-ons like blue light and anti-glare coatings. Aspects of the actual shopping experience, such as the ability to “test” styles through a virtual try-on feature or renew your prescription with a virtual vision test, can help narrow your choice. And no matter which pair of glasses you end up choosing, be sure the retailer offers a return policy and/or warranty that you’re comfortable with in case you need to switch them out.