Consumer Reports: Guide to Buying Glasses Online

A lot of people still buy glasses the old fashioned way: at the doctor's office or at a local eye-wear store. Consumer Reports says you may get more attention there, but according to a survey of its readers you may also pay a lot more.

Our readers paid an average of about $400 for frames and lenses at eye doctors and independent eyeglass shops. That's about two to three times what readers paid shopping online. That's before any reimbursement from insurance.

Consumer Reports readers evaluated six online retailers. Warby Parker sends five pairs of frames to try on at home — shipping is free both ways. It gets high marks for quality and selection. Warby Parker's average price for frames and lenses is $141.

Zenni Optical also did well overall, with an average price of $69. It's big drawback — you can only try on the frames virtually, using a photo.

Consumer Reports recommend that you try on any frames you are considering purchasing online first, just to make sure that they fit right and that the quality is good. A good strategy: find the frame you like in a brick-and-mortar store and then look for it online. Check out the warranty and return policies. You may have only 30 days for returns.

And if online eye-wear shopping isn't for you, Consumer Reports readers also evaluated dozens of brick-and-mortar retailers. Prices at discount stores like Costco, Sam's Club and Walmart are often less than at an eyeglass chain or doctor's office. However the frame selection may be more limited.

Complete ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to CR.org.

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