My journey to find the perfect $44 pair of prescription shades.
Just got back from a walk and I am really enjoying my new $44 prescription Ray-Bans. The walk was short but the journey to find inexpensive prescription glasses has been a long one.
Over years I’ve been ripped off buying prescription glasses.. I don’t wear contacts, so you would think that would save me some money. Not really. I need progressive lenses and have an astigmatism.
While my prescription is not that strong, decent lightweight progressive lenses are still pricey. In addition, since I don’t wear contacts, I need prescription sunglasses, which are another racket.
If you want a decent pair of prescription sunglasses, you need to buy them and then immediately replace the expensive tinted polarized lenses with your custom made prescription. Unfortunately, because they’re sunglasses, they often get smashed, bent, broken and sometimes lost. #firstworldproblems
I’ve got a decent track record with lost sunglasses, my wife SuperK does not. Still, I’ve lost a couple of pairs of prescription sunglasses over the years, and busted one other pair.
Here are a few of the many comical ways I’ve been ripped off purchasing glasses.
Nearly all of these purchases ended up costing somewhere between $375 and $750. These were not for designer frames, unless you consider Ray-Bans or Revos to be designer shades. I wear basic black plastic frames.
Think of this as your don’t do list when buying new glasses.
- Went to the optometrist in the mall who offered a 10% discount off his 500% markup. They featured a rack of glasses no one would ever purchase at 20% off.
- Tried to use newspaper circular coupons for one of the popular two-for-one offers. Again, I was directed to a rack of glasses no one would ever purchase, oh and sunglasses are not included. Naturally, the offer cannot be combined with your health plan discount.
- Was feeling flush and walked into a LensCrafters and ordered a pair of prescription Ray Bans. The total was north of $500 — they were having a sale!
- Was feeling flush and purchased a pair of prescription Revo sunglasses. I was still single at the time and felt it was important to look good and improve my eyesight when I was at the beach. I think these were around $375. Both pairs of Revos were eventually lost or smashed. The specific Revo frames that fit my head were not on sale ever.
- Tried to use the discount offered through our health plan. This was useful for a discounted eye exam and saving 50% off the $700 “list price” of the replacement (lenses) I needed. Again my prescription is nothing special.
- Went to Costco and was excited to have the option to purchase replacement lenses for $225. Unfortunately, it took two weeks and I had to return to the store twice due to defective lenses. Total cost, including my time, for replacement lenses about $500.
- Decided to go for a walk in Georgetown and saw a hipster store with a ad that said “glasses cost too much.” Found a great-looking pair of basic black frames that I still have. Total cost with new prescription $625. Glasses do cost too much. Their new slogan is Hip Without the Rip. Hmmm.
- Tried to use a Groupon. Only $35 to save $200 off the $800 list price, may not be used with health plan discounts, does not include RX sunglasses. Groupon expired.
- On-line. Discovered warbyparker.com prescription glasses $95. Tried 5+ pairs on at home. All were identical black frames, yet somehow none of them were quite right. Mailed them back. They don’t do progressive or bifocal lenses but you can pay $95 for the frames and go back to the optometrist or Costco go back to item 5 or 6. Start over.
- Found an old pair frames that I liked and started wearing them again along with my regular glasses. After a few days my eyes became watery and confused.
So, now based on my life experience, you have your don’t do list for purchasing prescription glasses or sunglasses. Out of all of these eyeglasses experiments, I must say that Warby-Parker was the best. SuperK ended up buying a pair of the frames for $95 and then getting the lenses at target for $275. So, best price ever on a new pair of high-tech progressive prescription glasses $370. Not including eye exam.
So, how did I get my $44 Prescription Ray Bans.
After years of being robbed blind on prescription glasses, I finally flexed my frug muscles and figured this out. Here is the secret. Purchase the frames and the prescription separately.
This allows you to search for some decent frames on sites like Amazon, Warby-Parker or variety of other places including your dresser drawers.
Over the past couple of summers I’ve seen lots of stylish people wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarers. My wife had borrowed my original pair a while back and miraculously didn’t lose or destroy them. I borrowed them back. These classics were purchased in the 80s before I needed prescription lenses.
At this point, I discovered Replace-a-lens.com. I just uploaded my prescription, clicked on a few options for my prescription shades like brown, green or grey tint. I could even pick the darkness, lens material, and add stuff like different mirror coatings if I had wanted to. Since these are just sunglasses, I went with the plastic single vision dark tinted lenses. I shipped my old Ray-Bans out and had them back in less than two weeks. Total cost including shipping $44.10.
So, this is what I call an industry ripe for disruption.
An industry is disrupted when someone new comes along and offers a quality product coupled with a better consumer experience for less money. (Think Uber)
Warby Parker kicks ass in this category as long as you don’t need progressive lenses or a special prescription. $95 with try on at home is a great option. Plus, they give away a pair to someone in need for each pair sold.
Replacealens.com is the best option I found if you want to keep your frames or get them elsewhere and add prescription lenses.
See you soon
sunglass guru says
sounds like you do not know a thing about quality SUNGLASS lenses… most prescription sunglass lenses are just as crap as regular lenses in glasses or cheap $10 Walmart Sunglasses. They have little to no ability to protect your eyes from harsh spectrums of sunlight, and with minimal polarization. You need to step up to a Serengetti or Revo Lens for maximum eye protection and relaxation.
This was super-helpful, thanks a lot for taking the time to write this up. I really appreciate it. Just bought some new lenses for my ray bans!
Jack Davis says
Great share! Thanks for sharing!!
I went to the web site and found they wanted $279 for new lens. Digital (HD) Progressive High Index 1.67 Transitions Signature VII Lenses . I paid $325 for the same lens at BJ’s wholesale with the frame.
Dennis Toomey says
Does it make a difference if you order the sunglasses or eyeglasses as far as price goes when you go to Warby Parker?
The Frug says
Yes, but it can vary based on your prescription. For sunglasses I like using replace a lens.
catherine caton says
notice you went with single vision since they were just sunglasses. I’m looking for sunglasses too, but I need progressives (so I can see directions or the dashboard while driving). Does replace a lens make these too?
The Frug says
Yes. I found those here
Robert Barry says
Can I use the frames from my ray bans sunglasses to get percription sun glasses and they take out the lenses and replace them with the percription ones.
The Frug says
Yes. Thats how I did it. Replace a lens will do it for you when you send them in.
I have a thick prescription with astigmatism and I also need progressive- I have gone to BJs for sunglasses and it has been a disaster, warped lenses were redone twice with no improvement. I also have a hard time finding the right fit for my frames since I have a narrow pd. Do you have any suggestions?
The Frug says
Warby Parker Has a good try on at home program and has decent prices. Competitive with Costco and much better quality lenses. If I’m keeping my frame I use Replace a Lens which I mentioned in the article.
Good luck finding some great glasses.