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The hunt for cheap glasses (why is this impossible)


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Since I have been unable to solve this on my own, I'll turn to ES for advice. I am attempting to replace my current glasses, which has proven to be more of a chore than I expected. First some background.

I refused to believe my eyesight was going until about 4-5 years ago when it got to the point that, when driving places I was unfamiliar, I couldn't read road signs/names, especially at night, until I was right on top of them, resulting in many u-turns. I realized that I had a problem seeing at distance, and figured I finally ought to do something about it.

I got my first eye exam, and was then led to the adjoining glasses place, where I proceeded to get soaked. I had wrongly assumed that those "two pairs of glasses for whatever" were cheap things you could get at CVS, and I splurged on a few things. I don't want to actually post how much I spent on my first two pairs of glasses (one regular, one sunglasses) but I'll admit that it was three digits and the first digit wasn't a 1....or a 2.

Anyway, they lasted me awhile, 4-5 years, and we come to today. One of the nosepieces has fallen off my sunglasses, which isn't too big a deal. However, I did accidentally keep my regular glasses in my pocket a few weekends ago when roughhousing with my kid and wound up breaking them in half, right through the bridge. Time for a replacement.

By this point, I had wised up a bit regarding the price of these things. I don't wear the glasses for everyday use, only when I drive, so it's not like I'm making a fashion statement, I just need them to see signs at a distance.

I go back to the first place. My frames are no longer in stock as they are however many years old, but they can order them from their warehouse. Price $130. They can't take the lenses out and put them in other frames, for some reason. To hell with them, I've been through this before.

I look around and discover there's a place in my area that does a "two pairs for $65" kind of deal, and even better, you get a free eye exam when you buy two pairs. Sweet....I head on over. They want to know my prescription, which of course I don't have, these things are 4-5 years old. They also state that they can not take the lenses out to put in new frames. They offer me the free eye exam to determine my current prescription, but while I'm filling out the form, they tell me they don't take my insurance.

Don't take my insurance? I have BC/BS Federal, and corresponding eye insurance. Who the hell in the D.C. area doesn't take Federal insurance? These folks, apparently. I leave...back to square one.

So my questions (which are probably stupid), for those who wear glasses and are more experienced, are thus.

1. Why do I need a new exam/prescription? The glasses help me see fine, so whatever I currently have will work fine. Can't they put the lenses I have under some magic frame or something and determine what prescription they are? I mean hell, when they're made, there has to be some sort of quality control thing to make sure they're right...can't they check them the same way?

2. Why in God's name can't you just put the lenses in new frames? The first place told me that they were made specifically for the frames I had, but how different are the shapes of these things anyway?

3. Who in the blue hell doesn't take Federal insurance in the D.C. area :ols:?

4. Lastly, and more importantly, how can I get my glasses replaced, relatively cheaply and painlessly, and at a minimum of time/annoyance? I'm just driving with the sunglasses right now, even in the rain or dark, because at least I can see with them.

Any help would be appreciated.

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I'll just go on and skip ahead to #4.

Costco.

They're the best. Get your exam done somewhere that does take your insurance, take your prescription to Costco, and they will be the cheapest and easiest. I don't think they do the actual exams though.

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Great answers already on #4 so I'll take a stab at #1 & #2. I used to work at an optician's shop a good number of years ago so I know just enough to be dangerous.

There is a way to check the prescription of the glasses themselves, after all it's just optics. However I imagine nobody wants to do that because of the obvious, i.e. they want to sell you a new pair and the less obvious, i.e. they don't want to take the time to make a new pair only to find they got the original prescription slightly wrong or more likely, your eyes have changed and you suddenly realize you need a new prescription.

As for putting old lenses in new frames there are a lot of good reasons that's not going to happen. The biggest reason is that styles change all the time and there is almost a 100% chance that your old frames have been discontinued. Also the lenses start out as uniformly sized "blanks" that are cut to fit the frames with an eye (pun intended) toward putting the center of the lens in the correct spot according to the frame they're made for. If it was somehow possible to re-cut the finished lenses to go into a new frame, the center would be off and you'd probably end up with distortions.

IMHO the whole industry is a rip off. I think they keep prices artificially high in order to gouge consumers out of as much $$$ as possible. Warby Parker could potentially change things though.

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Coastal Contacts. They are having a promotion right now. $38 for glasses (for the anti glare coating and such, you add $20) and shipping is free.

http://www.coastalcontacts.com/glasses

I haven't tried them yet but plan to. But several of my friends have and recommended them to me.

Good luck!

---------- Post added August-30th-2011 at 10:41 PM ----------

I'm a jackass. I didn't look at the site before I posted it. I guess that promotion ended yesterday. But it still might be worth a shot and they have promotions all the time. :)

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I'll just go on and skip ahead to #4.

Costco.

They're the best. Get your exam done somewhere that does take your insurance, take your prescription to Costco, and they will be the cheapest and easiest. I don't think they do the actual exams though.

I know my costco does eye-exams.

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My glasses are being held together by tape, the left lens falls out daily, sometimes hourly ending with great adventures of trying to find the hiding lens. The nose pieces, there are none. The lens are sitting at different angles and are not nearly the prescription to what they need to be.

My problem doesn't rely with finding a cheap pair but just the right pair. I have been wearing these glasses for years as they are falling apart but I can't seem to decide on a new pair I like enough to settle on for the forseeable future. I even got my eyes checked and new prescription seven months ago and can just not decide on the look I want. I have absolutely no clue when I will finally get a new pair and it's driving me crazy.

And yes I am one of those guys that take thirty minutes when out to eat to decide on what I want. Decisions = me crazy, ehhhh why does this have to be so hard.

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I buy my glasses from this place: http://www.zennioptical.com/

I paid $13! For a pair of prescription glasses and I've used them twice. Can't recommend them enough. It takes a few days but worth saving some money. I approached it with the mindset that I'll take a risk for $13, to see the quality and how they look on me. But I'm really happy with the glasses I get from them—quality is good, prescription is good, and they look good.

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MY glasses broke, I took the lenses to WalMart (after I'd made the rounds of 'special' glasses places that echoed to stories above, wanting me to buy the whole deal) and they got me new frames for my old lenses for $10. No ****. I felt like I won the lottery that day as I was expecting to spend a whole lot more.

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I buy my glasses from this place: http://www.zennioptical.com/

I paid $13! For a pair of prescription glasses and I've used them twice. Can't recommend them enough. It takes a few days but worth saving some money. I approached it with the mindset that I'll take a risk for $13, to see the quality and how they look on me. But I'm really happy with the glasses I get from them—quality is good, prescription is good, and they look good.

This.

Simply get your prescription (and make sure to get your pupilary distance) and order from Zenni. Even if you have a pretty strong prescription, you can still walk away with a nice pair of glasses for about $20 shipped.

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Pupilary distance is the distance between your two pupils (measured in cm). My optometrist would not give me this figure, so I did it myself with a mirror and a ruler and my glasses work great. Someone to help you make the measurement will make it easier, but see if you can sweet talk your optometrist (or Wal Mart) to give you this number. Obviously they don't want to give it to you because they know you'll go somewhere else to fill your prescription.

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