There was a time when an eye doctor could refuse to give you a prescription for new glasses. That often happened when an optometrist worked where glasses or contact lenses were sold. With the passage of laws, that’s no longer the case. Doctors must give you your prescription whether you ask for it or not. If you choose to buy your lenses from that shop, that’s totally up to you. 

I wear contact lenses and sometimes I buy from the place where I get my exam or sometimes I’ll order from 1800contacts, whichever carries my specialty brand for less. Before I go to my exam, I already know the price of the contacts online so I can make a decision and not feel pressured to buy them in person. 

Many people are aware of ordering contacts from other dealers, but they wouldn’t think of ordering glasses from anywhere but a brick and mortar store because they didn’t realize that it’s possible. But it is! 

There are several online retailers that offer very reasonable eye glasses, most for less than $100 and some starting at $6.95. These online retailers are reputable: EyeBuyDirect, Goggles4u, Zenni Optical, and Warby Parker. To order glasses you need: the prescription, sizing (look at the number on the temple of your current glasses), and Pupillary Distance (PD) (ask for this when you get your exam, it is the distance between your pupils in millimeters). If you don’t have any information other than your prescription, you can still get glasses, there are online tutorials to help you.

While ordering online can save you a bundle, there are some disadvantages of going this route.

Downsides of ordering online

  1. Progressive lenses are difficult for online companies to make and are probably best to order from a local company where you can work with the professionals in person.
  2. It can be difficult to find lenses that you like without trying them on. Some of the companies, like Warby Parker do offer a virtual try-on tool to assist you in this area.
  3. It can be difficult to return glasses if they are not correct since they are custom made.

Another option to consider is to get glasses at a low-cost store such as Wal-Mart or Costco. There is a membership fee at Costco, but you will more than make that up by ordering glasses from them and if you have frames that you like already, Costco can install new lenses in them.

But if you don’t wear glasses all the time or if you want to have a back-up pair, buying online is the way to go. If you do order online, make sure to check for a coupon code by googling the company name along with the word ‘coupon’ or look at for possible codes.