Right after my son Cole got his driver’s license, he realized glasses were a must if he wanted to drive after dark. Dutifully, I took him to the eye doctor, and an hour later, he had picked out great-looking frames. Unfortunately, I was down hundreds of dollars. Next time, buying online will be a no-brainer. Should anyone in your family need glasses or contact lenses, take advantage of my research.
Warby Parker: If you question the whole buying-without-trying thing, Warby Parker’s Home Try-On kit is the answer. Choose any five pairs of the company’s fun, fashion-forward frames and they’ll ship them to you—free—in an easy-to-return postage-paid package. If something appeals to you, just upload a prescription and order your specs. Most eyeglasses run $95 per pair. (Progressives cost more.) Plus, through the Buy A Pair, Give A Pair program, glasses are donated to people in need (a million pairs and counting). warbyparker.com
EyeBuyDirect: This site boasts a surprisingly large selection of eyeglasses under $10—from there, you add prescription lenses, special coatings for computer and gaming use and other options. (Also worth noting: There are over 200 frames specifically made for kids.) The nifty EyeTry tool allows you to upload a photo, then virtually play around with and compare frames ad infinitum. eyebuydirect.com
Goggles4U.com: Among the many basic frames are various chichi designer options (hello, Calvin Klein, Nicole Miller, Versace) and any kind of lens you could want: distance, reading, bifocal and progressive. You can get a pair of prescription glasses delivered for under $15—at that price, consider stocking up to soften the blow against seemingly inevitable loss or breakage . goggles4U.com
Glasses.com: When only big-name frames will do, there’s a huge selection of more than 90 well-known brands. Ray-Ban, Oakley, Smith Optics and similar high-end picks still don’t come cheap, but thanks to the Unbeatable Price Guarantee, you’re sure to pay less for them here than anywhere else. With many glasses, you pay only for the frames— prescription lenses are on the house. glassses.com
ReadingGlasses.com For anyone who’s struggling to see fine print, this site is the clear choice. Shop more than 50 brands that range in magnification from +0.75 to +4.00. readingglasses.com
Vision Direct The more you buy, the more you save at this virtual superstore for contacts, owned by Walgreens. Bonus: You automatically get a 5% discount on most products every time you shop. Best-known brands include Acuvue, PureVision, Dailies and SofLens.visiondirect.com