Consumer Reports looks at online glasses retailers

Survey gives two sites high marks

SAN ANTONIO – Shopping for eyeglasses isn’t what it used to be. Sometimes, it doesn’t even involve trying on the frames. Online retailers offer convenience and discount pricing, but there can be risks. Consumer Reports recently surveyed its readers and did its own eyeglass shopping to find how to get great glasses at a great price.

A lot of people still buy glasses the old fashioned way, at the doctor’s office or at a local eyewear store. Consumer Reports said customers may get more attention there, but according to a survey of its readers, they may also pay a lot more.

Customers 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, and 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 got high marks for quality and selection, and its average price for frames and lenses is $141.

Zenni Optical also did well overall. Its average price is $69, but its big drawback is that customers can only try on the frames virtually by using a photo.

Consumer Reports recommends that customers try on any frames they are considering purchasing online first to make sure that they fit right and that the quality is good.

A good strategy is to find the frame you like in a brick and mortar store and then look for it online. Check out warranty and return policies. You may have only 30 days for returns.

If online eyewear 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.

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