How to save $$$ on eyeglasses.

Cheapy SpecsWhen I went to get some new glasses a couple of months ago, I was a bit taken aback by the spendiness of the whole affair.

The exam wasn’t so bad at a $30 copay, but Ray-Bans (or any other decent frames) were over $300. If I wanted progressive lenses (and being a proto geezer, I did) that would be another $300. If I wanted Transition lenses, that’s another $100. That comes to over $700 for a new pair of specs! I guess they’re fishing for insurance dough. Though I have decent health insurance, the vision care is pretty minimal. All of this prompted a mission to find cheaper cheaters.

Step 1. The exam.

When you get your exam, have the optometrist give you a written prescription. They might not offer it, but they should be happy to give it to you.

Step 2. Find some frames.

This is where most people get hung up. The eye wear industry wants you to think this is arcane knowledge. It isn’t. If you have a pair of glasses that you are currently wearing, check the size. Mine say 51-18-145 on the left temple. The 51 is the width of the lens: 51mm. The 18 means the bridge of the nose is 18mm. 145mm is the length of the temple. I’ve found that a millimeter or two doesn’t matter much. I bought my last two pairs of frames on eBay. Sights like FramesDirect are also good. My current pair (the clear ones in the picture above) were around $30 including shipping. That’s another dirty little secret of the eye wear biz: frames are marked up about 1000%. I met a frame sales rep once who clued me into that.

Step 3. The lenses.

When I bought my latest frames on eBay, I got an email from the seller (here’s a link to his eBay store) saying that he offered lenses at deep discounts. As usual, I was skeptical and just bought the frames. My plan was to get the lenses made at a local shop. I called LensCrafters and they said progressive lenses were $310. Yikes! No joy there. I emailed the guy who sold me the frames. He could do progressive lenses for $89–I could scan my prescription and send it to him as a jpg. I was still a bit leery but I figured I wouldn’t be out that much dough if things went awry, so I sent the frames back and waited. (I could have gotten the Transitions for another $80 or so but I tightened up, instead opting for clip-on shades from Cocoons Eyewear. I like them but you have to keep them in a case, keep track of them, etc. I should have popped for the Transitions.)

In a week or so I had my new specs. I tried them on and was very happy – they looked great and I could see! Also, in some small way I felt like I was sticking it to the Man. Or Woman.

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