Observations by Rachel Sanks

Prescription Eyeglasses without Breaking the Bank

In Caregiving on March 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm
A bifocal corrective eyeglass lens

A bifocal corrective eyeglass lens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother, who despite impressive accomplishments in speech recovery, still has a hard time doing many day to day tasks that involve both complex explanation and strangers. So when she pointed at her new eyeglass prescription and asked, “When?”My thought was to go to that local chain retailer of prescription eyeglasses.

The store was well-lit when we entered. My mother, seeing the oversized 50% Off (select frames) signed pointed and nodded approvingly. There where a couple of things that sign failed to mention:

  • The 50% would be applied to frames only.
  • There where only two pairs of frames in the entire store that was less than $100.
  • The cost of the prescription lenses (bifocals) and coatings like anti-glare, and scratch resistant would be another couple of hundred dollars.

Bottomline: $370.oo (plus tax) for plastic frames with bifocals and anti-glare.

Also See: Lenscrafters Fail.

Later that evening I resolved to research the situation. Cursory browsing of the internet revealed that others had stumbled onto the same question. One of the first things I found was a letter to The Gothamist asking the same questions I had.

Gothamist’s suggestions:

Warby Parker Home Try On

Warby Parker Home Try On (Photo credit: Ben Adamson)

A little more research showed a couple of articles from BusinessWeek, and the New York  Times last year remarking on a prescription eyeglass company called, Warby Parker. Warby Parker is apparently innovating in the prescription eyeware industry by selling glasses online – and getting people to actually buy them. Following the model of internet sales companies like Zappos, Warby Parker puts an emphasis on customer service, low cost, and low risk allowing customers to have ‘At-Home Try-Ons’.


So, on the basis of the word of some reputable sources I scheduled an appointment to go into a local Warby Parker store in my area. Unfortunately the earliest opening they had (they only do in-store by appointment) available was about a month out – and they don’t do bifocals yet. Popular place, bleh.

39dollarglasses by contrast, has been in business for ten years, I couldn’t figure out the online ordering system, but calling the 800 number was a breeze. And, the customer service lady, Andrea, was incredibly helpful.

I ordered a pair of bifocals with plastic frames just like my mother wanted. I may have measured her PD (Pupil distance) eight times, and we are expecting the shipment in a couple of days. I’ll let you know how it goes.



The glasses arrived fairly quickly and were a complete hit! We ordered a second back up pair as well. Go Team.


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