I am as blind as a bat without my glasses and normally have at least a spare pair in my purse along with contacts. Because I wear my contacts anywhere between 14-18hours a day, sometimes my eyes reject them and decide to turn puffy and red. I like to call those days glasses days or saturdays. People may buy glasses and contacts for health benefits or for fashion, I wear my mine to function. At one point I own about 7 pairs of glasses. They slowly disappeared when I started wearing contacts, but I still buy a one of 2 pairs of cheap glasses to keep around the house, in the car, or at work.
You may recall when I got caught in a Groupon Nightmare because of my glasses a few weeks ago. That was my attempt at buying at an actual store, mostly I like to shop online for things now. It may be a side affect of blogging ALL THE TIME.
You many have noticed a lot of online stores popping in social networking sites. They even guarantee a cheaper price compared with an offline store. Although buying online is risky especially if the site is rather new, but as long as the interface is user friendly, I usually give the site the opportunity. Anyway, before buying online it is still a really good idea to have a prescription from an eye care practitioner and have checked it regularly.
- Check your Insurance
My health care plan covers eye exams every 2 years. It differs with different providers. In Ontario children under 18 are covered for 1 exam per year. Its free so get your eyes checked, people. (Can you tell I was pre-optometry undergrad?)If you have a health insurance, check it first if vision coverage is included and look for the benefits for contact lenses. Why? Take advantage of the percentage discount for every purchase or get an annual allowance for the cost of your contacts and the exam for contact lenses. For example, I can spend up to $200 every 2 years on glasses. These can include contacts, prescription glasses or prescription sunglasses.
- Evaluate your buying sources
You can buy your lenses from an optical store, mass merchants, internet sites or online stores and from your eye doctor. Again, it is still imperative to have a prescription from a doctor. Although there are times you may find that buying online would be cheaper from your eye doctor or from an optical store. If you have an optical store near you, you can buy it there since an optician who is on-premises provides eye exams and contact lens fittings. Tip: Also get your contacts fitted the first time. Some brands don’t work well as others.
Check these online retailers for cheap and reliable glasses and contacts:
- Clearly Contacts My go to source for contacts. Keep an eye out for bulk discounts and coupon codes
- Coastal Contacts Same as above but for Americans.
- Zenni Optical The best place for Glasses for under $7. The quality is pretty decent, too.
- 39 Dollar Glasses Pretty self explanatory.
Other online retailers that I found:
Most sites are very user friendly and allow you to download a little rule to take measurements. You also need your original prescription handy.
- Comparing Prices
Before you go shopping for lenses, make sure to compare prices from an optical store, mass merchants, internet sites or online stores and from an independent eye care practitioner. Not just for the price lenses but also with the shipping costs and handling rates because charges may vary. Prices may change often and sometimes there will be no charge at all.
When you visit your eye doctor for an examination or for a follow-up for your lens prescription, it is best to ask the prices of your replacement lens. You can call or visit any optical stores for the price quotes. You can also check prices on the internet. Also its a good idea to ask for any available rebates.
- Avoid shipping costs
You can avoid costs of shipping by ordering in large quantities. It’s really better to buy in bulk. I normally ask my siblings or friends if they need contacts or glasses and put through bulk orders. This way I am covered for contacts for the entire year.
- Don’t be an impulsive buyer
Whether you are buying from online or in the actual store, don’t shop impulsively and always have a budget. It is really easy to get carried away when you see glasses for $6.95. For online, may be the rates is cheap but delivery charge will cost you more. For offline, it is better to ask the representative of the optical store if you can get any discounts or any bundled products and services. I like to barter with my optician, especially if I have to pay money out of my pocket.
- Always do your research
Before buying something, I always check to see where I am going to get the most bang for my buck. I do my own estimations of the cost like shipping (for online purchases), fare or gasoline (if I need a trip for a certain store to shop) and time value if it is all worth it.
- Never assume anything
May be you will find this seller who has lesser expensive for specific lenses but it doesn’t mean that other lenses he has are also less expensive. Keep in mind that we still have to do our research and compare prices to any optical store, mass merchants, internet sites or online stores and from your eye doctor.
I have not found an optician who can match the prices that I find online and thats why I tend to buy my contacts and glasses online every other year. The year that I have to submit my receipt to get reimbursed I go to my optician as my health care provider is picky about where I can buy my glasses from. The point is that if you are paying out of pocket, especially for contacts, do your research and buy online. The only drawback would be for glasses because it rather hard to try them on.