Comparison of top discount online eyewear retailers

In this post, I will explore some of the differences between the following four major discount online glasses retailers:

Note that I am not including the discounted designer eyewear sites. I am also not including every possible configuration as this becomes prohibitive with half a dozen lens types plus half a dozen lens options for each type.  Plus certain online eyewear stores offer discounts based on certain feature combinations (e.g. $15 off if you purchase all three coatings ala GlassesUSA) This table gives you a feel for the pricing of different retailers and provides a first look into the most common options.

Goggles4U.com EyeBuyDirect.com 39DollarGlasses.com GlassesUSA.com
Base price § $25 $7 $39 $38
Thin lens (1.6) +$18 +$34 +$0 +$29
Thinner lens (1.67) +$28 +$67 +$30 +$67
Anti UV Coating +$0 +$5 +$0 +$10
Anti Reflective Coating +$0 +$7 +$25 +$15
Anti Scratch Coating +$0 +$0 +$0 +$10
Photochromatic Lens # +$37 +$36 +$50 +$119
Sunglass tinting +$0 +$5 +$10 +$19
Priciest standard config
$50 $98 $153 $244
Typical configuration*
$43
$46
$39
$87

§ For this exercise, I chose the cheapest frame available. Typically a basic alloy frame.

# Photochromatic lenses are “transition” lenses — they automatically darken in the sunlight
* Includes anti-scratch and anti-UV coating and a 1.6 thin lens.

Some additional notes on the table above: The “Base price” row shows the cheapest glasses you can buy.  This is the absolute least amount of money you could spend at the retailer.  It isn’t apples-to-apples among the online glasses sites, however.  For example, 39DollarGlasses gives you a thin lens and two coatings in the base price, whereas EyeBuyDirect gives you a thick lens and no coatings.   I did attempt to create an apples-to-apples comparison in the “typical” row.  This is in the range of what you will probably actually spend. The “Priciest standard config” is simply the most expensive pair I could build from the frame used as the given “base price.”

So, if you want to spend the absolute least amount of money, go with a $7 pair at EyeBuyDirect.  The “added features” such as ultra-thin lens and photochromatic (“transition”) lens cost the least at Goggles4U and 39DollarGlasses.  However, I can’t recommend Goggles4U because of repeated customer complaints.  39DollarGlasses has also been something of a mixed bag, but still a better option than Goggles4U.

Remember that, like anything else, you get what you pay for.  The cheapest of the cheap out there aren’t really suitable for daily wearers.  The metal alloy is lousy and prone to breakage.  However, sometimes we just need a backup pair or we are really hard up for cash.  For the most part, I’d recommend configuring a decent pair at either GlassesUSA or EyeBuyDirect.  Both have consistently pleased customers.  In fact, my daily wearers come from GlassesUSA and have been going strong for two years now.  I will also note here that GlassesUSA typically has the best coupons, offering as much as 30% off.

UPDATED JUL 2011

4 thoughts on “Comparison of top discount online eyewear retailers

  1. John Drake

    Thanks for doing this update. I have bought from GlassesUSA and even though they are more expensive than the other online vendors, they do produce a quality product. If you can find a coupon code, that brings the price down to near what the others charge.

    I only had 2 complaints about them. One was they emailed me a tracking number saying the glasses were shipped, but when I checked the tracking number, they had already arrived in my mailbox. The second was the lenses were covered in fingerprints and I had to use the cleaning cloth to get them clean. Still, they are a well made pair of glasses and the prescription is right on the money.

    I recently did have a bad experience with EyeBuyDirect though. I purchased a pair of glasses online that were supposed to have measurements of 50-20-144, the last measurement being important to me because I need longer temples and when I got them, they were 50-18-140. They agreed to give me a refund and I have shipped them back. They also asked me to email them a picture of the measurements on the inside of the frame, which I have done. I’ll keep checking back to see if they were changed on the website.

    Other than temple arms that need adjusting, I’ve gotten good glasses from 39dollar glasses, so I’ll probably stick with them and GlassesUSA, or maybe CoastalContacts if I want something designer.

  2. Jenna Stone

    My first experience buying eyeglasses online was with GlassesUSA. The real cheapy eyeglasses were not for me since I was looking for a lasting, good quality pair. I chose to spend a bit more – but in reality, the prices on GlassesUSA are amazing compared to what you would find in any actual store. Plus the quality of the glasses and the customer service throughout the process definitely made them a worthwhile purchase. I would recommend trying them, you won’t regret it!

  3. John Drake

    I recently bought a pair of glasses from 39dollarglasses.com. Using a discount link I found on the web, I was able to get a pair for just uner $49.00. The standard polycarbonate lenses were nice, and I like the UV and anti-reflective coating.

    The glasses were not flimsy and the prescription was right, but the temples were out of adjustment. I was able to adjust them myself and now I have a nice fashionable pair of glasses for less than a not so nice frame alone would cost.

    Not a bad experience, but not perfect. Even so, I would probably recomend them to others.

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