Are You Paying Too Much For Eyeglasses? My Zenni Optical Review

by Chris Tecmire

Eyeglasses

 

My eyes aren’t that bad…or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last 20 years.  I think it was around 6th grade that I was supposed to get glasses.  Coerced by my parents, I got the prescription, picked up a pair of the coolest glasses I could find, and gave the world of spectacles my best efforts.  For a week.  The glasses just seemed so foreign on my face, and I was far too self-conscious to become a four-eyed freak overnight.

So, I decided that contacts were more my speed.  For a week.  I was constantly worried that my contact lenses were going to dry out, stick to my eye, and have to be removed with a pry bar.  Plus, touching my eye every single morning and evening wasn’t exactly something I looked forward to.

So, I decided my eyes were fine.  And it was partially true.  I really didn’t NEED glasses – it was more of a precautionary step at the time.  Since then, my only true struggle has been seeing street signs from far away when driving in a new area.  So, I’ve been able to justify my naked eyes until recently.

 

My 1st Pair of Glasses (The Traditional Route)

 

Two years ago I decided that I at least needed to wear glasses when I was driving.  I’d just keep them in the car.  So, I did what most people do.  I grabbed the available vision insurance from my employer and then headed to the nearest Sears Optical to get an eye exam and pick out my sexy specs.  To the right is a picture of me wearing the first pair.

Here’s the total charges.Chris glasses #1

Eye Exam:

$49.00 – $39.00 (Insurance coverage) = $10.00 co-pay

Frames & Lenses:

$89.99 (50% off) – $65.00 (Insurance) = $25.00 co-pay

Anti-reflective coating:

$49.00 – $9.80 (Insurance) = $39.20 co-pay

Vision Insurance Premium for the year (just me):

About $75

 

So, the total cost for the pair of glasses from Sears was $139.20.  I didn’t include the eye exam in this total, and I also didn’t include the gas it took to get there, which was fairly significant since the closest “approved” optical provider was in another town.

 

My 2nd Pair of Glasses (Zenni Optical)

 

Just recently I decided that I needed to get a second pair of glasses.  I was starting to get headaches occasionally while staring at the computer screen at work all day.  It appeared that my old age was catching up to me and my eye issues were no longer isolated to the car.  So I tried sharing my one pair between work, home, and the car, but I don’t need them all the time, so I tended to forget them in one place or another and not have them when I needed them (on the computer and in the car).  A second pair would help a lot.  However, I wasn’t about to spend $140 all over again just for the sake of convenience.  So, when a co-worker told me about a discount website, I decided to give it a shot.

 

Zenni Optical is a discount eyeglasses website appropriately found at ZenniOptical.comYou simply fill out your prescription information and choose a pair of glasses and lenses for as little as $6.95!  I must admit that I was more than a little bit leary about buying glasses for less than $7.  I figured that there must be a catch, but I figured, at the very least, I could be the guinea pig for you fine Simple Family Finance readers.  So, I entered my prescription information, picked a pair of frames that looked very similar to my last ones, and pushed the order button.  About a week or so later they came in the mail along with a hard plastic case and a microfiber cloth.  The picture to the right shows my second pair of glasses.  Notice how similar they are to the first.

Let’s breakdown the total cost of my new glasses.Chris Glasses #2

Frames & Lenses:

$6.95

Anti-reflective coating and Fingerprint resistant coating:

$14.95

Shipping and Handling:

$4.95

 

The total cost of my Zenni Optical glasses was $26.85.  However, that includes shipping and handling, which was substantially less expensive than the gas that I didn’t count in the first example.  It also includes the anti-fingerprint coating which makes fingerprints less likely to stick and easier to wipe off (has worked great so far and is especially useful with a 9 month old roaming around).  My first pair of glasses from Sears didn’t include the anti-fingerprint coating because it was too expensive.  If you don’t care about fingerprints, the basic anti-glare coating is only $4.95 (only 10% of the amount Sears charged)!

 

But what about the eye exam?  Good point.  You’ll need an eye exam if you don’t already have your prescription, and Zenni Optical doesn’t offer that.  But, if you’ll notice, the eye exam without any insurance coverage was about $50.  My insurance premium was higher than that and then I had to pay a co-pay on top of the insurance.  Next time I need my prescription updated, I’ll probably just find an inexpensive exam somewhere, skip the insurance, and grab a new pair of glasses at Zenni Optical.

For those of you who love your Optometrist and bake him/her cookies every Christmas, Halloween, and Columbus Day, maybe you could at least use Zenni as a good place to purchase an inexpensive backup pair.  It’s true that you won’t be able to chit chat with anyone about the weather while you pick out your frames, but you can’t get a quality pair of glasses for less money anywhere.

 

How to use Zenni Optical (step-by-step)

 

1.  Call your last eye-doc and get your eye prescription information.  You need the basics, but you also need to ask what your “PD” is.  It stands for your pupillary distance (or the distance between your pupils), and it’s required for an order.  Your optometrist has this information.

2.  Go to ZenniOptical.com and enter your prescription information.

3.  Pick out a frame you like.  You can narrow down your choices using all the different options on the left sidebar.  Filter by shape, color, material, price, etc.  Once you’re down to your 3 or 4 top choices, try them on.  No, seriously.  This is where it gets pretty cool.

Take a basic picture of your ugly mug and download it into the Zenni Optical website.  They have a feature where you can click “try on” and see what those particular glasses will look like on you.  You can also compare 4 or 5 at a time and even share the pics on Facebook if you need some help deciding.  It’s really pretty easy.  Just make sure you’re facing forward in the picture, and pay attention to the examples provided (as far as size and margins) to make sure the glasses will look right.  This feature was really helpful.

4.  Choose any add-ons you’d like.  Basic lenses are free and most of the add-ons are much cheaper than I’ve seen anywhere else.

5.  Place your order.

 

My Zenni Optical Review

 

The biggest drawback to buying your glasses this way is that there isn’t an Optometrist standing by ready to answer your questions.  However, that’s rarely an issue once you’ve been wearing glasses for a couple years.  You’ve been around the block and know what to expect.  You also can’t try them on, but the virtual feature is really quite good for getting a general idea whether they’re right for your face or not.

With those two drawbacks considered, I must say that it was nice to find a new pair of eyeglasses that cheap without leaving my home.  Also, the quality is easily as good as the pair I found at Sears.  But, it’s the $113 that I saved that really put them over the top.  My first encounter with Zenni Optical was a big success.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

tereza crump September 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm

thank you. :D

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Tricia September 20, 2012 at 5:57 am

There are 3 people in our house that need glasses. You have just saved us a lot. Thank you so much!

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Chris Tecmire September 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

You’re very welcome. Saving money is good, but saving money x 3 is great!

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Katie September 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm

WOW – this is really helpful! My last pair of glasses were $175 – I was stunned! I will take a look at the site – I’m wondering if they do bifocals?
The savings is incredible!

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Chris Tecmire September 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Yes. They do bifocals too.

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Jamie September 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Hmm, I doubt they accept any insurances there, but my insurance does reimburse 80% of my eyeglasses, and since they are so cheap here anyway, the worst they could say is “no”.

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Chris Tecmire September 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm

No, as far as I know they don’t deal with insurance.

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Jen September 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

WOW thanks for the great tip! My glasses are in terrible shape but I didn’t want to spend any more money on them. We have a two year old….need I say more. Thanks for the tip!

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Rachel September 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I have been thinking of getting a second pair of glasses now that I wear them more often than my contacts. I didn’t know about the “try on” feature – that is really neat! I’m going to try this, thanks!

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Dena September 21, 2012 at 8:14 am

Thanks!! I have seen this online before, but have been too skeptical to try it. Thanks for being the guinea pig for the rest of us!! My hubbs really needs a new pair of glasses but we didn’t want to spend the money on top of the cost of his contacts. This will be a good solution. :)

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Lisa September 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

What do you do about having them adjusted to fit you?

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Chris Tecmire September 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

If I need any slight adjustments, I’m planning on going to the Wal-mart optical and asking them to. I’ve had friends tell me that they’ll usually help, but I can’t guarantee anything.
Zenni tells you whether they’re small, medium, or large frames (and you can search accordingly), plus they tell you the exact dimensions of each of the frames (the temple length, frame width, etc.) so you can compare them to what you already have. There’s also a return policy if all else fails, but pay close attention to the directions in the return policy to make sure you follow it accordingly.

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Karl B (The Frugal Berry) September 27, 2012 at 3:09 am

Thanks for the tip! I may buy a pair just to check it out!

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Karl B (The Frugal Berry) September 27, 2012 at 4:07 am

I’m truly THRILLED with this post! After checking out this link I may actually buy a few backup pairs! You never know when your glasses are going to break, and you will be stuck without until you replace them. Now I will have a spare on hand!

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Chris Tecmire September 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I’m glad I was able to help Karl! It is pretty remarkable how inexpensive they are – perfect for a good backup pair at the very least.

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MrsRariden June 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I bought my son a pair of indestructible glasses from Zenni for less than $30! The same glasses for the frame only are $350 locally. Unfortunately he lost his glasses and Zenni no longer carries that brand. Next time I find a pair he likes, I’ll get a spare. I tell everybody I know about Zenni.

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Chris Tecmire June 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’ve been really happy with my pair too. I think you’re right…at that price a spare might be a good idea :)

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Jen September 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

and if you decide to return the glasses bc you hate them, you will only receive 50% back and you have to pay for the shipping. IF they find that the glasses were manufactured wrong, then you will be refunded 100% of the purchase just not the shipping.

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Chris Tecmire September 2, 2013 at 8:18 am

Good to know. Thanks Jen!

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Kayla November 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Hi Chris!
How does the anti-glare coating work for you? I have a problem with night driving because I have pretty light sensitive eyes and the glare makes it 50 times worse.
I spent over 200 on my glasses and I didn’t want to pay an extra 100/lens for the anti-glare coating (@lenscrafters w/no insurance).

Thanks!
-Kayla

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Chris Tecmire November 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

It seems to work pretty well. Let’s put it this way – I haven’t been too bothered by glare to notice. However, I can’t say that the fingerprint resistance has worked all that well. But, cleaning the lenses is just part of wearing glasses I suppose.

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mehul November 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm

can you get reimbursed from VSP for buying a pair of eye glasses on zenni?

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Bill April 15, 2014 at 8:49 am

While I think Zenni can make good glasses, my experience was not good at all. I have a pretty heavy prescription and need graduated lenses for reading. I got my glasses, put them on and found I could only see if I kept my eyes straight ahead. If I cut my eyes to either side even slightly everything was blurry and made me dizzy. When I called, Zenni said that’s how graduated lenses are….Really, I’ve been wearing glasses for 45 years and I’ve had graduated lenses before. This is not how they should be. They used really thick glass, twice as thick as the ones I’m trying to replace. She then said that they only used “Standard” lenses for graduated glasses. I said I could not wear them and they should put a warning on the website. They offered 100% store credit or 50% money back. Again, really? After 3 days? I will chalk this up to a learning experience losing 62.00 but will never order anything from them again. As I said, maybe on single lens or much lighter prescriptions they would be ok, but if you have a heavy prescription or need graduated lenses, look elsewhere.

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Chris Tecmire April 21, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Sorry to hear that Bill. That’s pretty lousy that they wouldn’t offer you your money back. I’ve had good experiences so far, but my lenses are pretty basic, so it’s always helpful to hear the other side too.

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Anne Click April 28, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Bill, I have a pretty strong prescription as well (+5 or so in both eyes). My glasses from 3 different companies…all graduated lenses….are accurate only from straight ahead viewing…(so if I look right or left, the view is blurred as you described) I think that perhaps that is the way all graduated lenses are, unfortunately. I don’t like it either, and it caused slight dizziness and nausea, too, in the beginning, but I’m now used to it.

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Meredith Curry August 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

I had the same experience with thick lenses and causing nausea and dizziness. I kept thinking I’d get used to them, but kept getting dizzy. Took them to my eye doctor and Zenni had the PD wrong. From now on I just suck it up and go to the eye doctor who I trust.

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Jim May 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I have purchased 5 pair from Zenni. 3 for me & 2 for my daughter. Her lenses are single vision and her glasses were very inexpensive; 2 pair for $36 including shipping. Mine have progressive lenses & thus are a little more. The 1st purchase was 2 pair for $41 and the 2nd purchase was one pair for $70. The second purchase was the aforementioned progressive (no line bifocals) lens with the transition sunglass effect. All of our scripts were perfect right out of the mail. We’ve shared the info with several friends at work who have had similar success. One friend replaced an $840 pair with a $60 pair from Zenni and said they’re perfect.

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Lori August 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I was so excited to order from Zenni, love the styles and the prices. However, when I got my progressive lens glasses and my sunglasses, the prescription did not fit at all. I couldn’t wear them more than a few seconds, they made me nauseous, see double, and everything was blurry – far off or close up. I called customer service and had to pay to return the glasses to see if they were made according to the prescription. They wrote back to say they were remaking the glasses, but sent me an invoice that showed they only intended to remake one of the two pairs. I got them back and if they made a change to them at all it was imperceptible to me. I was trying them on and turned to speak to a co-worker, I nearly fell because just turning my head made me that dizzy. No, I’m not exaggerating. I contacted customer service again and said that I didn’t see the point in paying shipping to have the glasses made a 3rd time, and asked for a refund. They wrote back: As for your case, we advise you to confirm the prescription with your eye doctor and make sure the prescription you used is correct. Thank you for selecting Zenni Optical for your vision needs. I’ve been wearing glasses for 54 years and I’ve never had a doctor get the prescription wrong. I will take them to the doctor this week, but at this point I am tired of the poor customer service and just want my $100 back.

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Aussie October 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Have been wearing progressive lenses for well over 25 years and was initially told they would take around 6 weeks to get used to. However, I persevered and within 2 weeks had them worked out.
The secret is to move your head as well as your eyes as the focus is mainly through the mid-section of the lenses. It becomes second nature after a while. Nearsightedness is usually covered by the width of the upper part of the lenses. As they graduate to farsightedness the area either side of the mid-section becomes blurry. With some companies you can pay a premium for lenses where the prescriptive area is wider for farsightedness. I have tried them but the cost far outweighed any advantage. Also, the quality of progressive lenses has definitely improved since I first started wearing progressives.

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Cricket Wood September 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I wear contacts. Just went to the doc & have my Rx, with the curvature of each eye. Do they make contacts?

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nene March 11, 2015 at 6:43 pm

I ordered 2 glasses by zennio optical: both used a wrong prescription, while the prescription I filled out was correct. Not only was the refraction wrong, they also added some astigmatism I don’t have. The first pair of glasses I tried and tried because I really liked the frame. I had to go back to my doctor because of headaches who told me they were completely wrong. They were already out of guarantee. The second one was still in guarantee but they only offered me 50% back or a 100% store credit. Why would I choose a store credit if they could not even get the first 2 right?
Don’t risk it: you’ll loose money and gain a lot of headache.

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Amanda T March 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm

On March 23, 2014, I purchased glasses for me and my husband. Yesterday, on March 28, 2015, we went to have our annual eye exams. At this appointment, they took a reading of our glasses to see what our current prescriptions were to see where to start and how to adjust.

My husband’s prescription was supposed to be:
OD (S) -2.5, (C) -1.75, (A) 20
OS (S) -1.75, (C) -1.25, (A) 155
PD: 66.0
This is what he received:
OD (S) -0, (C) -2.50, (A) 16
OS (S) -.50, (C) -2.00, (A) 160
PD: 66.5

My prescription was supposed to be:
OD (S) -1.5, (C) -0.5, (A) 80
OS (S) -1.5, (C) -0.75, (A) 90
PD: 64.0
This is what I received:
OD (S) -1.00, (C) -0.75, (A) 76
OS (S) -1.25, (C) -0.5, (A) 84
PD: 65.5

I would like to know exactly how you plan to remedy this solution.

I have been a valued customer for years and have referred people to this site on countless occasions. I’ve never had a complaint about their quality until now

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Lucy March 31, 2015 at 4:02 pm

My parents purchased bifocals form Zenni and were very impressed, no problem. I decided to try a pair since my rx would expire this coming May. I purchased 3 pairs of classes, including the shipping for $26.00!!! i didn’t get anything special like finger-proof coating or tint. they even recommended a thinner lens for an additional $19.00 but I didn’t bother since I figure for $6.95 a pair, if they were think then I would just wear them around the house to give my eyes a break from contact lenses. A week later they arrived and I could not be happier. I NEVER wear glasses to work but today I decided to try it out and got SO MANY compliments.

I just ordered 8 MORE pairs for $76 bucks!!!
I am going to have a new pair for every day of the week and have fun with them. I ordered a pair with pink tint.

I do not have any complaints.

If you prefer to try on your glasses to get that perfect look then this site may not be for you.

I figured for $6.95, as long as they weren’t hideous, I would give it a shot!

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Lucy March 31, 2015 at 4:08 pm

CORRECTION-I meant to say if the lenses were THICK not THINK. Also my rx in both eyes is -4.25 sph & -0.50 cyl with an axis of 180.

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Hannannna June 3, 2015 at 8:36 am

Shoddy work not worth the cheap price. We ordered two pairs of glasses with an identical prescription. We received two pairs of glasses with slightly different prescriptions.

When worn, one pair would result in slightly blurred vision, dizziness, etc so we took them to an independent retailer and sure enough the axis on both lenses was off slightly (on the messed up pair).

We contacted customer support and sent the glasses back. After a month or so they came back to us (after we had to ask them what is going on) and said the glasses were fine. We asked about the difference in prescription and they said they would test them again.

Finally got back to us that the glasses were within an acceptable margin of error.

They have an acceptable “margin of error” when producing glasses to match a prescription.

In other words, what you order is not necessarily what you get – but that is just fine. You’ll “get used to them.”

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