I order all of my glasses online and have for over a decade. Up until then, buying new glasses stressed me out. What if ended up hating them? What if I got tired of them after a few months? Because glasses were so expensive, I could only afford one pair so I always chose a safe, if boring, style. If I lost that one pair while travelling, I was out of luck so always travelled with an old pair that was an older prescription but better than nothing.
When I was in grade 1, my teacher told my mom that I couldn’t see the board. As the last of five, stuff like that went under the family radar but since everyone in my family wore glasses, it should not have been a surprise. Off we went to choose frames from the dreaded free frame wall and my lifelong relationship with eyewear began. We didn’t have a ton of money so free frames were the only choice and I had to treat them like gold as we couldn’t afford to replace them. I always hated them and dreamt of shopping on the fancy walls and amassing a huge collection when I grew up.
Once I became an adult, I started looking for frames I actually wanted vs what we could afford. When I had single-vision lenses, it wasn’t bankrupting me to indulge in multiple pairs. Then, I turned 40 and progre$$ives entered the chat. Suddenly lenses cost up to 5 times more than the frames.
I bought my first pair from the optometrist who prescribed my graduated bifocals for over $800. We were back in free-frame territory as my budget was blown on one pair of lenses. That’s it. Can’t lose ’em. Can’t change it up. Same pair, day in, day out. Boring. Knocked kneed free frames Carole was back.
My first online pair came from Vancouver-based, Clearly. My American friends were more accustomed to getting their glasses and contacts online and encouraged me to try them out. I waited for a sale on progressive lenses and bit the bullet. Tried them on online, played it safe with a frame similar to what I always wore and saved myself about 60%. They came out of the box fitting perfectly, needed no adjustments and were really good quality. When the next BOGO sale came along, I ordered two more and finally had a choice of eyewear again. I bought a new pair or two every 2 years until about 2021.
My last pair with progressives cost $300 CAD in March of 2022 but I have paid as little as $240 when I catch a really great sale.
Pro: great customer service, lots of styles, always great sales, quick shipping, Canadian-owned.
Cons: sometimes hard to find very unique, fashion-forward frames
A couple of years ago, IG was inundated with ads for Zeelool. Pretty girls wearing huge, oversized glasses everywhere I looked. It all seemed a bit more dodgy but the frames were super fun and they were even cheaper than Clearly. We were on lock down, bored and needing some cheer. I ordered 2 insane frames, with progressives for less than one pair at Clearly.
They take longer to come as they ship from China but they were of decent quality. The frames were not great for me – I wanted an eccentric lady who lunches look but I am still a good ten years away from looking this whacky. They will end up as sunglasses at some point. The cost for both pairs was a total of $162 US. For both. With progressive lenses costing $35/pair.
Pros: Cheap, decent quality lenses, no end of fun frames
Cons: can take weeks to get here and I haven’t had to deal with their customer service yet so I can’t comment
My current, Go-to everyday glasses are from Pair. Pair’s claim to fame is that they have magnets in the corners and you can order endless toppers that just pop on. You can change the colour, add sunglass toppers and turn your 1 pair of glasses into 20 pairs. I have the Wanda frame in both Pink Clear and Tortoise ($316US with progressives). I thought I broke the clear pair, bought the tortoise and then fixed the clear, so I have two. My problem is that I lose the sunglass toppers and go through at least 3 or 4 a year at $30US each. So I was spending over $100 a year to replace the sunglass toppers.
<–one base pair = 5 looks
Pros: well priced, the toppers allow you to feel like you have multiple pairs of glasses for less than buying multiple pairs, can turn glasses into sunglasses for the price of a $35 USD topper, accrue points to use towards future purchases, decent sales and special offers
Cons: Only 15 base frames to choose from, the magnets could be stronger to prevent them from falling off when you adjust your hair or put your hands close to your face.
Cheap and cheerful Zelool to the rescue! With a better eye for what to look for, I ordered another pair. This time I ordered single-vision photochromic lenses to use as sunglasses/scooting glasses. They were $63 US and took a few weeks to get here but I LOVE them. I love them enough to reorder as progressives for $116 USD, still a steal. They are not so sensitive that they go dark in the house – photochromic tech has come a long way. Now, I can wear them to scoot or for a walk and keep them on when I pop into a shop. Cheaper than replacing lost toppers and very versatile for distance use only.
The Warby Parker founders were students when one of them lost his glasses while backpacking. The cost of replacing them was so high that he spent the first semester of grad school without them, squinting and complaining.
Warby Parker was started to create an alternative to traditional, expensive eyewear in an industry dominated by a couple of huge companies. By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, they are able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.
I have had two pairs of prescription sunglasses from this company and I love them. I just did a single vision for distance to cut the cost of my full prescription. A flip through my travel photos for the last five or six years will prove how much I wear them. I bought a second pair for my 2022 trip to Spain/Portugal and Morocco and left them in the rental car before the first week was up. RIP my gorgeous sunnies.
Pros: stylish, and affordable when compared to other companies with similar quality and design. Easy to order, great customer service.
Cons: Frames and single-vision lenses are affordable but as soon as we get into progressives etc, the price really starts to climb.
Lastly, I was offered a pair from Bon Look, another Canadian company from Montreal. These were the most expensive of the bunch (my frames alone were $169 CAD) but the quality is great, they came very quickly and were very modern and stylish. I chose a frame from their 2023 Fluid Careers collection. Most frames are gender-neutral and are great for an office environment when you still want to look cool. Choosing the Layer in Rose, I played it safe with a frame style similar to what I have been wearing for the last few years. With single-vision lenses, they would have cost $229 but progressives (start at $375) and some special issues require an actual visit to a store.
Pros: beautiful frames, modern looks, great quality, fast shipping, Canadian-owned, easy if you have single vision, simple prescription
Cons: I would have to go into a store to get my full prescription filled so not as convenient for me. More expensive
All you need is a copy of your prescription. You can ask your eye doctor to email it to you or get them to write an official, signed paper copy right after your eye test. all of them offer some sort of virtual try-on. Most places require a copy of it and a photo of it works just fine.
You will get used to the whole virtual try-on. Make note of the dimensions of the frames you like so you can look for similar sizes when you buy frames online. Also, you have to measure your PD or Pupillary Distance. Every website shows you how to do this and even provides a printable little ruler to use. I think optometrists don’t include it to dissuade you from buying elsewhere, to be honest.
*I was gifted my Bon Look glasses but I have paid for every other pair that I own.