CNET details the best places to buyonline, but what about sunglasses? Not surprisingly, all the sites that sell glasses also sell sunglasses. You can go with the stock lenses that are included with the frames that are designated as "sunglasses" or create a pair of using any of the frame options, then adding a tinted lens option.
When creating a custom pair, you have a variety of lens tints to choose from, as well as options like polarized or mirrored lenses, both of which This is a good guide to lens colors.) Tint density is also important to look at, with a higher density (true, nonfashion sunglasses tint density tends to range from 50% to 80%). You can also get gradient tints that offer more density in different parts of the lens., UV rays, and reflection glare -- and yes, you want some anti-glare coating at a minimum, that's a must. Gray, green and brown tints are most popular (I tend to go with gray), but some sites also offer yellow, blue or rose lens color options. (
Keep in mind that all of these sites and their services have been personally used by me or someone on CNET's staff, and we'll update this best prescription sunglasses list as we try more. But before we dive in, note the following prerequisites, caveats and tips, particularly if you're ordering prescription sunglasses:
- You'll need to know your prescription and from your optometrist before you use an online glasses retailer -- so make sure you get a hard copy the next time you get your vision checked by an eye doctor. Once you have that, most of these sites will let you upload a picture of the prescription from your phone the first time you buy something with prescription sunglass lenses.
- Most of the sites highlighted here offer some sort of prescription sunglasses discount for first-time customers. That means the first time you buy glasses can be when you get the best deal, so you can pay to try several online retailers before buying glasses online.
- See how to and save hundreds of dollars for more tips.
- From time to time, sites offer buy-one-get-one-free deals. Sunglasses can be part of the deal.
Several CNET editors have bought their glasses on Warby Parker, which has a good selection of frames and contact lens. You can convert any frame into a pair of sunglasses, but Warby has a special section of sunglasses that start at $95.
While prescription glasses start at only $95 with a single-vision prescription, chances are you're going to pay a bit more for an Rx option -- around $150-$200, according to my colleagues -- based on the type of eyeglass frame you choose, your prescription and type of lens. The company's polycarbonate lenses are one popular option for sunglasses.
UV protection is included with every pair of sunglasses at no additional cost. In addition, Warby has an anti-scratch coating guarantee and will replace your lenses for free if any scratches appear within one year of purchase with polarized sunglasses when you order prescription sunglasses. Sunglasses start at $175, and progressive lenses in both eyeglasses and sunglasses start at $295. But the finished products tend to be a step up from what more budget-oriented sites offer.
Notable site features: The company's app for iPhone X or later iPhone models -- sorry, there's no Android version yet -- allows you to search the site by frame size and to try on various frames virtually (it works surprisingly well) and better yet, you can try up to five frames at home for five days for free. Once your five days are up, you place your box in the mail with the prepaid return label. Hopefully, you find at least one style that you like from among the five you picked for the home trial.
Warby also has physical optical stores in some locations around the country if you want to go in and try frames that way (some remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic with modifications like appointment-only visits). Some of these locations also offer eye tests -- and that prescription can be used at Warby or elsewhere.
The online glasses store also has a "buy a pair, give a pair" program, so for every pair of glasses you purchase, the company distributes a pair to someone in need, either for free or for "ultra-affordable prices." (See details.)
Current deals and coupons: Nothing notable.
Shipping times: According to Warby: "Single vision glasses take seven to 10 business days to reach you from the time we have all of your order information. Rx sunglasses and progressives take 10 to 12 business days to reach you." (These estimates jibe with the experience of CNET editors who have used the service.)
Knockaround doesn't have a prescription service, but it sells regular sunglasses, including polarized and mirrored coating for $25 and even slightly less (prices start as low as $15). They're not premium glasses obviously, but the lenses are pretty decent and the glasses look more expensive than their low price would indicate. These designer sunglasses also seem pretty durable. Several different styles, colors and lens options are available. These are the glasses to get if you don't want to worry about losing your sunglasses.
Notable site features: A design-your-own feature lets you take sunglass frames and customize the colors of each part of the frame (each arm can be a different color, for example) and lens options.
Black Friday sale: 30% off on all sunglasses (limited time only)
Shipping times: About five to seven days, although custom orders can take up to 12 days.
Austin, Texas-based Roka's marketing slogan is "The most technically advanced eyewear that doesn't look technical," and its glasses are impressively light, durable and stylish-looking.
Roka started out making athletic glasses for runners, bikers and triathletes, and many of its prescription frames are bendable at the ends and have rubberized tracks that help you get a more secure fit. The frames also come with three sizes of grippy nose pads to ensure a better fit. These glasses and prescription sunglasses are among the most comfortable glasses I've worn -- and they really stay on your face. I personally like the small Oslo frame in clear.
Roka's nonprescription stock lenses for its sunglasses are good, and prices for regular sunglasses with no Rx start at $125, with sports models costing between $150 and $195.
Like Warby Parker, these are at the higher-end of the online prescription eyeglasses spectrum, with prices of around $200 for a completed pair of prescription glasses, depending on some of the lens upgrades you might add. But Roka has some of the best glasses -- and sunglasses -- frames out there. Roka's lens technology gives you a choice of a progressive lens, polarized lens, or blue blocking lens in choosing your perfect prescription sunglasses.
Notable site features: Like Warby, there's a home-trial program. You can try up to four frames at home for up to seven days. The box ships with a prepaid return label -- you just drop it off at a post office to send it back.
Current deals and coupons: Black Friday deals offer discounts up to 50% off.
Shipping times: Roka doesn't provide general estimates, and instead will give you a shipping time estimate when individual orders are placed based on which shipping option you choose (next-day, second-day or ground).
Zenni has been around for a while, and it's the first site I used to buy cheap prescription glasses and sunglasses online. It's more of a budget-minded eyeglass site, and over the years, I got some nice deals on cheap glasses, particularly when Zenni was running its occasional three-for-two glasses sales. I've had both standard eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses made here and so has fellow editor David Katzmaier, who has since graduated to Warby Parker (he said, however, he would still buy prescription sunglasses at Zenni because they're cheap and decent enough). Zenni also has protective goggles for sports use and safety glasses for use in commercial & construction.
In the last couple of years, Zenni has been subtly shifting its image, bringing in celebrities like Rashida Jones and 49ers tight end George Kittle to give the brand a little more of a hipper vibe. The lenses are good and these guys offer nice deals on upgrades to photochromic lenses if you want glasses that also can double as sunglasses (though photochromic lenses tend not to get as dark as true sunglass lenses).
Notable site features: There's a Frame Fit "mirror" feature that allows you to upload a photo and see the frames on your face, as well as new "virtual" try-on feature (powered by Ditto) that allows you to see the glasses on your face as you move around using your computer's webcam or your phone's camera. This is similar to the virtual try-on feature that Warby Parker offers.
Shipping times: "Your eyeglasses are delivered around two weeks from the time we receive your order," says Zenni. In my experience, that sometimes stretches out closer to three weeks.
Current deals and coupons: Early Black Friday deals through Nov. 21 include $5 off orders over $30, $10 off orders over $50 and $20 off orders over $80. Use code EBF2021.
EyeBuyDirect is similar in many ways to a lot of its competitors. Along with an in-house frame brand (Rflkt Eyewear) it has some Ray-Ban and Oakley frames. I went with a more affordable in-house frame and paired it with a high-end sunglasses lens that turned out to be really sharp with nice contrast (I went with a gray lens). The price came out to around $200 -- you can go cheaper or more expensive. For an additional charge, you can add mirror tinting or gradient tinting which can help with blocking UV light and making reading more comfortable. The frame quality was decent though not on par with, say, Roka's frames. The lens coating includes anti-scratch coating, anti-reflective coating, mirror coating, and UV protective coating to protect from harmful UV rays. The Rx lens quality was good and the ordering process was smooth, with a standard virtual try-on feature where you upload a photo of yourself to help you find the perfect frame.
Notable site features: For an extra $29, you can get two-day delivery with single-vision lenses (many frames are available for two-day delivery). EyeBuyDirect says it's the only site offering such fast delivery. It's also worth noting that like Coastal (see below), with every pair of glasses you buy, you can opt to have EyeBuyDirect donate a pair to a person in need somewhere in the world -- you pick where.
Early Black Friday sale: Buy one and get one free, plus an extra 20% off. Use Code: B0G020
Eyeglasses.com's huge selection of both frames and lenses is a big selling point, but it also has the downside of offering so many options that it can be a little daunting to figure out exactly what to buy. You can get budget options -- lens prices start at $39 -- but the site skews toward more premium options. The idea is to get a significant discount (upwards of $200) on a high-quality frame-and-lens combo that you'd spend big bucks for in a brick-and-mortar shop. "Our business targets the main part of the eyewear industry, to supply the same products that customers would get at the eye doctor, but at 50% lower prices," CEO and Founder Mark Agnew told me.
The site carries over 300 brands and 200,000 skus, which seems to be the largest catalog of any online glasses site. The filters are also decent, allowing you to filter by rim style, material, brand, price, category, eye size, clips, country of origin, as well as advanced search options such as bridge size and temple size, and B measurement. However, there's no virtual try-on feature and a lot of the frames don't have models to show you what the frames look like on someone's face.
It does have an excellent guide to sunglasses lenses that describes tints and anti-glare features.
Notable site features: Eyeglasses.com says it only sells "high quality, individually made lenses made in the USA" and the sample glasses I tried had excellent lenses that gave me a very sharp image. As I said, there's a huge selection of lens options, and you get a "Perfect Lenses Guarantee" that allows you to send your glasses back if they don't work for you (you can get a redo or a full refund (your choice).
The site also offers a lens replacement option for your existing frames (you send your frames in and have your clear lenses converted into tinted lenses). Unlike Lensabl (see below), which highlights the feature, eyeglasses.com doesn't market the option front and center.
You can also get new sunglasses very quickly if you choose to pay extra for expedited shipping.
Current deals and coupons: Nothing notable.
Shipping times: Less than six days, according to the site. I received a new pair in a couple of days, but I had an expedited shipping option.
As you'd expect, SportRx caters to people looking for sports-oriented prescription glasses, with a wide variety of options from big eyewear brands such as Smith, Oakley, Ray-Ban, Costa and Nike. Not all the frames it sells have an Rx option, but most do.
Although you'll get a better deal here than you'd get from your local sunglasses boutique, this is not a budget site and you can end up paying upward of $250 or more for your prescription sunglasses, depending on your prescription. But SportRx runs some deals on frames and also gives you access to a real optician to help you decide which glasses are right for your prescription and athletic pursuits. Making Rx lenses for sports glasses can be tricky.
Notable site features: SportRx says that instead of speaking (or live-chatting) to a run-of-the-mill customer service staffer hidden in some obscure call center, you're speaking with a "friendly SportRx Optician in sunny San Diego" who's gone through a rigorous training regimen (the SportRx Academy) and is well-versed in various aspects of optics: refractive light, myopia, presbyopia, astigmatism and everything else you can think of. "What's more," the site says, "they have extensive training on the best sports frame and lens options on the planet."
Black Friday sale: 20% off sitewide with code FRIDAY20. Sale ends Nov. 28.
Shipping times: Around 14 days.
Founded 10 years ago in Israel, GlassesUSA.com offers more affordable options for buying prescription eyeglasses and designer eyeglasses online than sites like Warby Parker and Roka, with full prescription glasses starting at $38. But it also features premium designer frames from high-quality eyeglasses brands, including Ray-Ban and Persol. The designer eyewear lists for more -- frames start at $89 for basic completed Rx glasses -- but discounts can bring them down in price.
The one-stop shop for stylish glasses offers a 65% discount off your first frames, as well as discounts on lens upgrades (photochromic, for instance), contact lenses and reading glasses. It also recently launched a landing page for flash sales on nonprescription sunglasses. And around major holidays you can look for seasonal promotions on men's eyeglasses, women's glasses and contact lenses.
Notable site features: A virtual "mirror" feature lets you upload your photo to the site and see what a pair of eyeglasses looks like on your face shape to help you find the perfect pair of optical frames. And the company is upping the try-at-home ante. Instead of just sending you the frames, GlassesUSA will send you the frame with your actual prescription in it so you can truly try out prescription eyewear for up to 14 days -- though the feature is limited to certain frames and lens options. The site also offers a 100% money-back guarantee so you can return your eyeglasses if you don't like what you ultimately get. And while we've spotted a few negative online reviews for GlassesUSA.com, the company seems to diligently follow up and respond to each one.
Black Friday sale: 60% off all glases.
Shipping times: Expect seven to 10 days between ordering and arrival of GlassesUSA.com products, depending on types of glasses and the shipping option you choose.
What do you do if you've already got a pair of eyeglasses frames you like but your prescription is old (or the lenses on your frames are scratched) and you just want to replace the lenses? Like eyeglasses.com, Lensabl is one of the few sites that allows you to send in your own pair of frames and get a new prescription lens for them. Its motto is, "Your frames, our lenses," with prices starting at $77 for buying a basic pair of single-vision lenses. A pair of tinted sunglasses lenses starts at $97.
You upload your prescription online, pick the type of lens you want, and then Lensabl sends you a box with a prepaid return shipping label. You simply mail them your glasses in the box (shipping is free). First-time customers get 15% off. This site is also a good option if you have an old pair of glasses that you want to turn into prescription sunglasses.
Recently, Lensabl also started offering full glasses packages with its own frames that start at $77 for a single vision Rx and $177 for progressive.
Notable site features: For $25, you can renew your prescription online. Not everybody qualifies to take the online eye exam -- you have to answer some questions to see if you qualify -- but if you do, Lensabl says, "All you need is your computer, smartphone and about 15 minutes of time." Your results will be reviewed by an eye doctor or optometrist licensed in your state who will then issue you a new prescription via email.
Shipping times: Lensabl pledges "about two weeks" turnaround time from when you ship your frames to when you'll receive them back.
Coastal shares some similarities to online retailer Zenni in that it leads with low prices and sporadic two-for-one deals around various holidays. It recently added a virtual-fit feature, and there's an option to input the size of your current frames and the site will serve up options based on those measurements that will be a good fit for your face.
Coastal does offer some premium brand frames (Ray-Ban, Oakley and others), but that takes your price up to over $100 with lenses.
Notable site features: Coastal has a philanthropic partnership with the Essilor Vision Foundation to improve the sight of people who can't afford glasses. Coastal says that "for every pair of glasses bought, we will donate a pair of glasses to someone in need."
Like Zenni, Warby Parker and others, it now has a virtual try-on feature.
Current deals and coupons: Get 25% off your first pair of glasses plus free shipping over $50.
Black Friday sale: Up to 80% off frames, plus 40% off lenses. Use code FRIDAY40.
Shipping times: Expect 10 to 14 days.
More about eye health and glasses
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