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How to buy eyeglasses

Since I’ve been in the seventh or eighth grade, I’ve been wearing eyeglasses.

Rita Exhibit 2 IMG_4596_2Buying glasses is a difficult consumer problem for me. Perhaps it’s because you need to wear them for several years and if you make a mistake you just have to live with it.

I’ve had friends help me. In the top photo are my current glasses, which are rose-colored metal. A friend thought they looked good. They’re O.K., but I was disappointed because they’re flimsy, not sturdy.

I’ve tried having a drink or two to make the selection process easier. That wasn’t helpful.

I looked through my photo albums and scanned photos of my glasses choices through the years. The second photo is the one I remember as being the worst glasses I ever had. Looking back on them, they aren’t that bad.

Rita 1954_0004 Neither were the others I reviewed. The third photo is my high school graduation photo. I think those are fine.

The fourth photo is from the late 1980s when big glasses were in fashion. This pair is metal, so they look O.K. for that era. I also had a plastic pair in that big size.

I need new glasses, so I thought I’d try something different. I read Consumer Reports magazine and followed its recommendations.

I know that glasses are getting more and more expensive and you need to compare prices carefully.

Price was the biggest complaint in a survey of 92,000 eyeglass buyers, reports the article “Eyeglasses: Score Spectacular Savings” on Consumer Reports.com. Though 75 percent of respondents said that they were very happy overall with their purchase, only 54 percent said they were pleased with the price they paid.

Rita 1954_0005In the survey, Consumer Reports found that Costco, the nation’s fifth-largest seller of eyewear, offered low prices. Those surveyed also said Costco’s service was good. It scored almost as well as private medical offices and small independent optical shops, which continue to top all categories but price.

So I went to Costco and ordered a pair of glasses. I’ll get them in about two weeks. I’ll report back on how I like them.

I paid $210 for my glasses. The frames were $40. I also paid an additional $50 to renew my annual membership.

Rita 1954_0010

Here are the tips Consumer Reports has for eyeglass shoppers:

  • Select the lenses. CR-39 lenses are the best choice, but you may need stronger, thinner polycarbonate lenses if you participate in sports activities or have a strong prescription. Make sure you understand what different coatings are for and what they cost.
  • Pick out the frames. Plastic frames break more easily than metal frames. Titanium and titanium-based flexible metals stand up well to most abuse. Look for frames that complement the shape of your face. It may help to take a friend with you. Picking out glasses is a challenging task.
  • Look for a store that offers lower prices. Start by looking on the Internet to get an idea of what prices are. You can order from the Web, but if there’s a problem, you have to mail the glasses back. If price is a consideration, Consumer Reports suggests trying BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club. Davis Vision Center, For Eyes Optical, and Wal-Mart also offered satisfactory prices, according to the Consumer Reports survey.
  • Finalize the purchase. Find out about return policies and warranties. Ask if you can exchange the frames if they aren’t comfortable. Be sure to go back to the store if something isn’t right with your new glasses. Having well-fitting, comfortable glasses is important for busy boomer consumers these days.

Other resources to help you with your selection of eyeglasses:

“How to Buy Eyeglasses” – About.com

“Buying Eyeglasses Online: A Good Idea? Not Necessarily” – All About Vision.com

“10 Tips for Buying Kids’ Eyewear” -- All About Vision.com

“How to Get an Unbelievable, Thrilling Deal on New Glasses” – Slate.com

“Save Bundles of Cash by Buying Eyeglasses Online” – Lifehacker.com

Update: See the post, "Do You Like My New Glasses?" to see the glasses I bought and what I thought of Costco's customer service.

Comments

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Lisa

I love all 3 pairs of glasses you have in the pictures! I think they were appropriate for their era. The one that seem strange to see now are the huge frames from the 80's.

Rita

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your comments on my eyeglasses.

Yes, the 1980s are interesting in eyeglass history, with the big frames. I'll add a 80s pair to the post. There's one pair I think I wore for five years.

Rita

reading glasses

I love your tips. Thanks for sharing them. I wouldn't have to worry at all on which to choose.

Vincent Davis

Yeah, buying the most suitable pair of glasses is very crucial, as the person buying them has to wear them most of the time. Yeah, the lenses and the frames are very important aspects. These pointers are very useful, Rita. Thanks for sharing them.

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