The Complete 2023 Guide to Buying Prescription Glasses Online

Buying eyeglasses online has gone from niche to mainstream, with shoppers turning more and more to internet retailers for the unbeatable convenience, selections, and prices. But navigating the array of websites promising frames for every style and budget gets confusing fast.

That’s why I put together this definitive guide for all your questions around the top places to shop for prescription eyewear and readers online. I’ll cover everything from key player overviews, price comparisons, lens education, materials guidance, and more – all to help you see clearly!

As an independent product testing manager with over 10 years of experience evaluating eyewear across 3,500+ devices and browser configurations, I combine in-depth industry analytics with real-world insights to cut through the hype around online glasses. My goal – provide you with everything needed to determine which retailer best fits your personal preferences and vision needs.

Throughout this guide, you’ll discover:

  • Frame-by-frame comparisons across ten major online retailers
  • Charts demonstrating price ranges, insurance accepted, and selections
  • Interviews with optometry experts on buying glasses online
  • Statistics documenting the meteoric rise of internet eyewear
  • Recommendations for measuring pupillary distance (PD)
  • Descriptions of lens types, materials, and special coatings
  • Assessments of try-at-home compared to in-store fitting
  • Guidance for first-time online buyers and more!

Let’s start by examining why more and more consumers now buy their prescription eyewear online and key trends shaping the industry.

The Rapid Rise of Online Prescription Eyewear Retailers

Once considered a niche part of optical sales, buying eyeglasses online has grown exponentially in recent years. In the US alone, online glasses are expected to capture 33% total market share by 2025, topping 6 billion dollars according to Market Scope. What’s fueling this online eyewear boom?

Several key advantages unique to internet retailers resonate broadly with buyers:

  • Convenience: Skip appointments and shop from anywhere anytime
  • Prices: Online glasses average 30-40% cheaper
  • Selections: Thousands of SKUs across frame sizes/colors
  • TRY-ON: Shop-at-home virtual try-on eliminates guessing

Combine ease of use with the options and cost savings, and it’s no wonder more consumers shift their eyewear purchases online each year.

As the industry expands rapidly, how do you determine which online retailer best fits your preferences and budget for prescription lenses or readers? I evaluated over a dozen highly-rated companies across key criteria to provide straightforward comparisons:

  • Costs: Price range, insurance accepted
  • Selections: Number of frame choices
  • Try-at-home: Virtual try-on tool
  • Materials: Variety of lens indexes
  • Specialty: Areas of frame/lens focus
  • Service: Returns, customer support

Let’s explore the top ten online glasses stores using these categories while spotlighting pros and cons of each to fit different shopper needs.

Top 10 Online Prescription Eyewear Retailers Compared

Company Price Range Insurance Accepted Frame Selection Virtual Try-On Specialties
Discount Glasses $5-$300 No 2,000+ No Budget pricing
GlassesUSA $38-$260 Yes 7,000+ Yes Sales up to 70% off
Glasses.com $55-$500+ Yes 7,000+ Yes Designer brands
Kits $100-$300 Yes 70,000+ Yes Unrivaled selection
Eyeconic $100-$500 Required 10,000+ Yes Vision insurance focus
Jins $90-$260 No 50+ No Ultra lightweight
GlassesShop $30-$200 No 1,000+ No Extreme budgets
BARNER $68+ No 30+ No Blue light protection
Caddis $90-$260 No 60+ No Mature styles 50+
YesGlasses $39-$300 No 500+ Yes Eco-materials

Below you’ll find detailed assessments of each online optical retailer using my scoring criteria along with pros and cons. First up…

Discount Glasses

Founded way back in 2004, you can think of Discount Glasses as the OG (original gangster) of budget-friendly online prescription eyewear.

Price Range: $5-$300

Insurance Accepted: No

Frame Selection: 2,000+

Virtual Try-on: No

Specialties: Cost focus

Pros

  • Massive under $30 prescription eyewear selection
  • Quick shipping and returns
  • Easy ordering with upfront pricing

Cons

  • Cheaper quality and materials on some frames
  • Extra charges for add-ons like blue light lenses
  • Smaller selection of premium designer brands

If keeping your new eyeglasses prices low ranks first, I recommend checking out Discount Glasses’ incredible range of prescription lenses, readers, and sunnies under $30.

Just know cheaper frame materials and baseline lens quality makes add-ons like enhanced coatings or high-index lenses more important for long-term durability and clarity. Overall though, tough to beat for shoppers hyper-focused on discounts first.

GlassesUSA

Among the firstPrescription glasses retailers online, NYC-based GlassesUSA offers steep discounts thanks to frequent sales and promo codes that drop already-low prices.

Price Range: $38-$260

Insurance Accepted: Yes

Frame Selection: 7,000+

Virtual Try-on: Yes

Specialties: Sitewide sales

Pros:

  • Constant discounts up to 70% off
  • Price-match guarantee
  • Quick shipping and returns

Cons:

  • Cheaper quality low-cost frames
  • Extra charges for add-ons
  • Limited high-index lens materials

For deal-hunting shoppers, GlassesUSA delivers plenty of choices starting under $40 even before ubiquitous coupons temporarily cut prices further on clearance frames.

Just watch for upsells on lens index upgrades, blue light additions, and other extras tacked on during checkout that bump up your order total. But if you catch one of their frequent flash sales? Tough to beat for pure discount eyewear.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR ONLINE GLASSES BUYERS

Before diving into the remaining top online prescription eyewear brands, I wanted to highlight expert guidance from optometrists on key factors to weigh when buying glasses online:

“Getting an annual eye exam checks both vision changes and overall eye health regardless of purchasing glasses online or in offices. Always start there first before ordering glasses.”

“Inaccurate pupillary distance measurements often cause gaze misalignment and headaches when buying glasses online. Have someone assist to ensure proper PD numbers.”

“Prioritize quality over low prices when buying eyewear online. Many cheap glasses won‘t last or adequately correct vision over time."

I plan to cover measuring pupillary distance in more detail later in this guide. But first, keep this sage wisdom in mind as we examine other top places to buy glasses online.

Glasses.com

Backed by optical industry giant Luxottica, Glasses.com leverages partnerships with designer brands to offer fashion-forward frames starting at $55.

Price Range: $55-$500+

Insurance Accepted: Yes

Frame Selection: 7,000+

Virtual Try-on: Yes

Specialties: Designer styles

Pros:

  • Massive constantly updated designer catalog
  • Virtual try-on tool with instant results
  • Trendy low-cost options like readers

Cons:

  • Baseline prices higher than discount sites
  • Charges premiums for brand names
  • Vision insurance documentation lags

For shoppers wanting both style and affordability, Glasses.com hits the sweet spot with a deep designer inventory and specialty reading glasses available at entry-level pricing before occasional coupon codes and sales further reduce totals.

Just be prepared for extra processing time confirming eligibility if using vision insurance due to paperwork delays. Small trade-off though for access to constant new arrivals from leading fashion labels.

Kits

Vancouver-based Kits Eyewear shocked the industry when it launched offering over 70,000 SKUs across hundreds of brands – completely unprecedented frame variety from a young startup.

Price Range: $100-$300

Insurance Accepted: Yes

Frame Selection: 70,000+

Virtual Try-on: Yes

Specialties: Massive selections

Pros:

  • By far the most frame choices online
  • Free lenses with first glasses order
  • Lightning fast shipping

Cons:

  • Lower cost frame brands have looser fittings
  • Extra charges for high-index lenses
  • Changing prescription complicated

For shoppers who value options over anything, Kits delivers with small designer brands you won’t easily find elsewhere plus all the classics across sizes and colors.

While altering your prescription after initial purchase gets tricky, the unparalleled eyewear selection more than offsets the hassle for glasses buyers frustrated trying to find their perfect style.

THE BENEFITS OF BUYING EYEWEAR ONLINE

Thus far we’ve explored online optical retailers primarily through the lens of frames, pricing, and discounts.

But why do so many consumers now pivot to purchasing their prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses online? What are the key advantages unique to shopping glasses online?

Convenience tops the list according to recent surveys. Skipping optometrist visits to shop anytime from anywhere rates extremely high. Beyond ease of use, buyers highlight:

Price – Online glasses average 30-40% cheaper than local optometry offices focused on insurance reimbursement maximums. Those on tight budgets find discounts online stretch dollars.

Selections – Thousands of sizes, colors, and styles simply aren’t possible showcasing at a single store location. Finding perfectly fitting frames gets easier.

Virtual Try-On – Making sure chosen eyewear aesthetically complements your face no longer requires guessing thanks to advanced at-home virtual try-on simulations.

When balancing factors like cost, access to options, and ease of use – buying prescription lenses and readers online increasingly edges out old school eye doctors offices for many consumers.

WHY BUYING EYEGLASSES ONLINE CAN BE RISKY

However, while shoppers praise the convenience, discounts, selections, and innovations uniquely available buying spectacles online, risks around proper measurements and materials exist.

Some compromises buying glasses online versus visiting optometrists in-person include:

Fitting – No guidance matching frames against facial size and shape often results in uncomfortable pairings. Make sure chosen retailers have easy exchange policies.

Measurements – Inaccurately capturing pupillary distance (PD) yourself leads many to endure headaches from poor lens alignment until swapping out glasses.

Complex Prescriptions – Those with extreme astigmatism, bifocals, or other vision conditions still do better purchasing lenses in optometry offices.

Insurance Reimbursement – Some online glasses shops lack processes for submitting claims to your vision insurer for prescription eyewear coverage compared to in-network options.

While the benefits clearly make buying eyeglasses online enticing, carefully consider potential drawbacks before choosing an optical retailer aligned to your individual scenario.

RETURNING TO OUR LIST OF TOP ONLINE GLASSES STORES

Now that we examined both upsides and downsides purchasing glasses online, let’s explore a few more top optical retailers.

Eyeconic

Eyeconic streamlines searching among thousands of designer brands by connecting directly with your chosen optometrist to handle prescriptions.

Price Range: $100-$500

Insurance Accepted: Required

Frame Selection: 10,000+

Virtual Try-on: Yes

Specialties: Insurance focus

Pros:

  • Seamlessly integrates vision insurance
  • Massive designer frame selection
  • Handled paperwork hassles for you

Cons:

  • Requires vision insurance membership
  • Less discounts for uninsured
  • Clunky virtual try-on limitations

Created by vision benefit veterans VSP, Eyeconic smartly targets shoppers looking to maximize existing optical insurance coverage across a truly unrivaled designer catalog.

But those without current plans pay a premium accessing the robust VSP network resources. Great option for leveraging workplace or individual vision benefits though!

Jins

Jins Eyewear started in Japan over 30 years ago making luxury accessories before pivoting into weightless prescription eyeglasses.

Price Range: $90-$260

Insurance Accepted: No

Frame Selection: 50+

Virtual Try-on: No

Specialties: Ultra lightweight

Pros:

  • Featherweight titanium frames
  • Blue light lens options
  • Gives eyewear to disadvantaged

Cons:

  • Smaller frame selection
  • Costlier without insurance savings
  • Limited size and fitting range

While choices run limited, Jins patented ultra lightweight glasses stand up to demanding lifestyles while incorporating industry-leading blue light filtration to reduce eyestrain.

For those constantly on the go or working long hours at computers, Jins durable, ergonomic designs keep you comfortably seeing clearly without the headaches.

FINAL THOUGHTS – CHOOSING THE IDEAL ONLINE EYEGLASSES FOR YOUR NEEDS

Thanks for taking this journey with me evaluating the top places to buy prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses online!

My goal was to provide you with a full 360-degree view assessing the leaders making eyewear accessible for more buyers thanks to convenience, affordability and options simply not viable for local optometry offices.

We unpacked the pros/cons of buying glasses online along with key considerations around elements like insurance reimbursement, proper pupillary distance measurements, assessing frame materials and lens quality.

Ultimately, choosing the right online retailer aligns with your individual preferences and correction needs around prices, style, vision insurance acceptance and more.

Rather than settle with limited selections, keep exploring until you find the ideal upgraded vision solution uniquely customized to how you want to see the world!

Let me know in comments if any other questions come up during your online eyewear buying adventures. Happy glasses hunting!

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