Today, I want to talk about glasses. I want to clarify before I start that I was not paid by anyone for this post--I don't have any reason to believe that the companies I'm going to mention even know that this blog exists. Anyway, since developing Sjogren's, I haven't been able to wear contacts for more than a few hours (and the amount of time I can wear them seems to be less and less each year). I started wearing contacts in 8th grade, but it was only a few years ago that I moved to wearing glasses on a regular basis. Fortunately, I really liked the pair that I picked out around the time that I started needing them more often.
Unfortunately, those specs (the Kate Spade Elisabeth in tortoise/aqua that I'm wearing in my profile picture) broke when I very gracefully walked into a wall while leading a prospective family on a tour of the school where I work. They flew off of my face, and one of the arms snapped right off. Smooth, eh?
This made me realize two things: 1) I needed to get new glasses and 2) because I can't wear my contacts full time, I should probably have a back up pair in case I walk into another wall or something. Having just paid tuition and all of my holiday bills, though, I wasn't feeling up to spending a ton of money. I mean, those Kate Spades were great, but with lenses, they ran me about $500! I certainly didn't want to pay that twice, but I also couldn't walk around with my Krazy-glued glasses for much longer.
Enter the internet, solver of so many problems. And I went a little crazy. Still, I spent far less than five-hundred bucks, and I now have three pairs of glasses and a pair of prescription sunglasses to show for it. I ticked off my optometrist in the process (he HATES the idea of people ordering glasses online, and I felt bad for upsetting him because he's awesome), but I'm happy with the results.
Since so many of you are in a similar boat (dry eyes, need glasses, don't have a bunch of disposable income hanging around), I wanted to share my experiences.
First up, the most expensive pair of glasses I bought. My Warby Parker Reece glasses cost me a cool $125 (free shipping, tax included). Not cheap, but not bad for frames and lenses. If your prescription isn't as strong as mine, you'll only have to pay $95. The great thing about Warby Parker is that they have a "get one, give one" program--for every pair of glasses they sell, they donate a pair to someone in need. They also let you order five pairs of frames at a time to try on at home (free shipping and free of charge, though there's a $1 hold on a credit card until you send them back), which made me feel much better about ordering glasses online. I, um, did four rounds of home try-ons. Five if you count the ones that a friend of mine at work brought in after I introduced her to the service. So 25 pairs of glasses later (I must have tried on at least that many when I bought my last pair in person), I ended up with frames that look a lot like my old ones. Oh, well.
They came in a sturdy cardboard box with a smaller cardboard box inside. Within the smaller box was a nice case containing a soft sleeve that doubles as a cleaning cloth. The frames seem durable, and I think they're quite stylish. I probably should have taken them to an optical shop to get them adjusted, but I just did it myself by running the arms under hot water. They feel great on, and the prescription seems perfect.
Here's the packaging:
And the glasses:
Next up was super cheapy Zenni Optical. Glasses start at $6.95, but I selected a slightly more expensive pair and a few additional features: 1.61 high-index lenses and oleophobic/anti-glare coating. I also wanted prescription sunglasses, so I picked a $12.95 pair of frames/lenses, upgraded to the 1.61 lenses, paid $4.95 for tinting (80% gray), and another $4.95 for standard anti-reflective coating. At $42.80 total, they cost more than I've ever paid for sunglasses before, but I usually buy them at T.J. Maxx, and obviously, those don't have my prescription. Shipping is a flat $4.95 no matter how many pairs you order. Here's what I got for my money:
The cases are kind of flimsy, but I actually like that they are lightweight. The little ruler tool in the middle is for determining your pupillary distance, a measurement that most doctors don't like to give out (I used the Warby Parker online tool for measuring mine). That's about it other than the soft cloth that came with each pair of glasses to keep them clean. Everything came packed neatly in a single padded envelope.
How are they? They're OK. They aren't as nice as the Warby Parker glasses, but at such a cheap price, I certainly can't complain. The customer service at both companies was great, I got what I expected, and I think I'll get a lot of wear out of all of them. I call that a success.
Now, I love the Reece glasses for everyday wear, and the ones from Zenni are cool as back ups or for days when I want more of a hipster look, but both are kind of serious looking to me, and I wanted a fun and girly pair if I could find some that weren't too expensive. Tortoiseshell is great, but I was craving a pair of light colored cat eye frames. That brought me to Coastal.com.
I waited before ordering them, because I wasn't sure whether I should pick the silver or gold lens package. I was using their "First Pair Free" deal, but I knew that I'd have to upgrade because of my strong prescription (people who don't need strong glasses just pay for shipping). My right eye is -5.25, and my left is -5.75. If I could get away with the silver lens package, they were worth it (it's a $40 additional charge for 1.61 high-index lenses with anti-glare coating like I got from Zenni). If I needed the gold package ($79, I think, for 1.67 high-index like Warby Parker uses), I was going to skip them. When the Zenni glasses arrived, I wasn't overwhelmed by the thickness, so I went for it.
I looked at all of the "First Pair Free" options and thought the Love L740 frames in Orange Pekoe struck a good balance between retro and modern. I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull them off, but after reading all of the reviews on Coastal and on buzzillions.com, I found that they looked good on pretty much everyone and decided to give them a try. I like them a lot, but I wasn't shocked when Mr. Sjogren's Style didn't (they are clearly "girl pretty," not "boy pretty").
The packaging from Coastal was excellent, as were the glasses. The glasses case is big and weighty, and it came with a little kit containing spray cleaner, a cloth, and a tiny screwdriver.
Here they all are in action:
|Warby Parker Reece|
in Whiskey Tortoise
|Zenni Optical Style #482025|
|Coastal Love L740 in Orange Pekoe|
|Zenni Optical Style #262024|
And here's what I've learned:
- Pay close attention to the measurements. After all of my Warby Parker try-ons, I realized that a lot of glasses that look nice on the models are HUGE on me. The other web sites offer more detailed information (like lens height), so I was able to make a decent guess about what they'd look like.
- The option to upload a picture of yourself is fun, but was kind of useless on most of the sites. They just don't size the glasses very well, so none of them looked like they did in the pictures in real life.
- As you'd expect, the "free" options on these sites aren't always free. There are a lot of add-ons that are pretty important (esp. anti-glare/anti-reflective coating), but it's all still reasonably inexpensive.
- Being able to afford more than one pair is exciting. Maybe too exciting--I went from buying one pair of glasses four years ago to buying four pairs in just a few weeks. Oops.
- There's a vast array of online eyeglasses sites. Two I might try in the future (the far away future--I'm done for now) are Bon Look, which has more feminine frames than Warby Parker (WP leans classic/hipster), and Firmoo, which is a lot like Zenni.
- Apparently, you can get a lot of walk-in eye care places to measure your pupillary distance. It can cost anywhere from nothing to $30 and is probably a good idea.
Have you ever bought glasses online? What was your experience like?