More than half of all adults use corrective lenses. Unfortunately, the expense of prescription glasses makes style-conscious shopping difficult on a student budget.
I can routinely buy blouses and cheap shades from Target, but I can’t afford replacement glasses more than once every few years. If you would like to update your specs as well as your wardrobe, I recommend ZenniOptical.com, a company that sells prescription eyeglasses ranging in price from $7 to $46, including lenses.
Can’t believe your eyes? I can tell you from experience it’s legit. All Zenni glasses include an anti-scratch coating, full UV protection, a hard case and a microfiber lens cloth. If you use bifocals or progressives, you’ll pay a little more (progressives start at $29), but it’s still an amazing bargain.
There are more than 3,300 styles, including rimless, half-rimmed and full-rimmed, rectangular to round, acetate to titanium glasses, and everything in between. You can even virtually try them on by uploading a photo of your face into their “frame fit” program. If you’re questioning the business’ viability, the answer is simple — they cut out the middleman, the optician.
A Zenni Optical customer service agent said opticians make their money off of eyeglass fittings. All glasses are mass produced using industry-standard manufacturing processes. There are sites similar to Zenni Optical out there. EyeBuyDirect.com and CheapGlasses123.com both sell inexpensive generic frames and discounted designer frames. Prices range from $10 to more than $100.
Zenni doesn’t accept insurance, but a customer service agent said most providers will accept a copy of the invoice for reimbursement. So give your insurance provider a call and you may be able to save yourself $5 to $10. All you need to place your order is your prescription with your pupillary distance (PD), the distance from the center of one pupil to the other. If you don’t have a copy of your prescription, you can call your optometrist and pick one up.
If you don’t have an optometrist, give the Lion’s Eye Center on UNM North Campus a call. If you have commercial insurance, like Blue Cross Blue Shield or Presbyterian, eye exams start at $41; UNM insurance will get you in and out for $21.
If online shopping isn’t your thing, or if you’re a one-stop shopper, there are other options. LensCrafters does exams ($95) and sells the frames and lenses. The frames start at $59, not including the lenses, and reach all the way up to $600 for a pair of Dolce & Gabbana beauties.
If you want to go local with your frame shopping, try The Optical Shop. This eyewear boutique has frames ranging from $169 to $450, not including lenses, and carries unique designers like Michael Stars and Norma Kamali.
If these options motivate you to begin expressing your style through your frames, consider going with a bright color — vibrantly hued glasses are one of this season’s hottest trends. Give it a go in orange, red, fuchsia, sunny yellow or cobalt blue and try a cat-eye or round style if you’re feeling sassy.
The Optical Shop
3411 Central Avenue N.E.
$169 – $450
Does not accept insurance
UNMH Lion’s Eye Center
2211 Lomas Boulevard N.E.
Exams start at $21 for UNM insurance holders
6600 Menaul Blvd N.E. M5A