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Article updated on May 10, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Pair Eyewear Review: Can These Glasses Give You Rizz and Help You See?

These prescription glasses have snap-on frames that let you customize your look. Here's how they work.

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Jessica Rendall
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Jessica Rendall Wellness Reporter
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health technology, eye care, nutrition and finding new approaches to chronic health problems. When she's not reporting on health facts, she makes things up in screenplays and short fiction.
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A variety of colorful top frames sitting on a turquoise pillow

Two pairs of Pair glasses and five top frames. 

Jessica Rendall/CNET

An underrated perk of needing glasses is that they can also double as an accessory to express your style and taste. For those whose taste changes, or those who like to rotate and switch up their style, you'd need multiple pairs of glasses in your arsenal to achieve your completely customized look.

Enter: Pair Eyewear. You can save money by investing in just one frame, and adding pops of color and design with magnetic attachments that snap and attach to the "glasses" part of your glasses. These are called "top frames," and the company sells these customizations for $25 to $30 a pop. 

$60 at Pair Eyewear

Pair Eyewear

Prescription glasses are $60 for single-vision lenses. Top frames and sun tops start at $25 each. 

Snapping them onto Pair's glasses looks like this.

Jessica Rendall/CNET

Pair Eyewear gives the same type of vibe as picking the color of your braces, choosing who can autograph your neon-pink cast after you break your arm or having a few handbags to toggle between, based on your outfit. A variety of designs and colors are available for top frames, ranging from solid colors and simple designs to special collections, including Frida Kahlo designs, a Harry Potter theme and DC comic book characters. 

With all the novelty that sets it apart from competing online prescription glasses companies, we decided to test it out. Here's what we found.

How to order from Pair

To take advantage of Pair's top frames, you'll have to buy a pair of base frames. These are $60 for most people's prescriptions. Upgrading to a specialized type of lens will cost extra. (For example, $59 more for thinner premium lenses.)

Similar to other online glasses companies, you can use your HSA or FSA card to buy glasses, or you can submit a receipt to your insurance company post-purchase in order to be reimbursed the cost.

Two pairs of glasses on a blue pillow

The top frames attach to Pair's glasses via little magnets in the top corners of the frames. There could be around 1% nickel composition in the magnets' coating, and the company says to take note if you have a nickel sensitivity. 

Jessica Rendall/CNET

Pair makes glasses styled for men, women and children. There's not as much variety in base frames as other companies, like GlassesUSA.com or Eyeglasses.com, for example, but I found a style I like. For this review, I tested the Wanda in clear color and the Ella in tortoise (black and brown). Because my prescription for nearsightedness is on the stronger end, my glasses include the extra-cost premium lens option, which is recommended and sometimes necessary for higher prescriptions. It keeps the lenses thinner and also has anti-reflective and scratch-resistant properties. 

When you check out, you'll be prompted to upload a photo of your prescription from your eye doctor or check a box to have the company call your doctor to get the prescription. When selecting your base frame, you'll also have the option to add on any top frames you want to buy right away, but you can always go back and order these after you have your glasses. 

A pair of clear Pair glasses with red top frame from the side

What the top frame looks like attached to glasses. 

Jessica Rendall/CNET

You should get an email from Pair a few days after placing your order prompting you to measure the distance between your pupils (pupillary distance). It's best to use a tool like Pair's (it was really easy to use and fast) rather than guess based on averages, because the number you enter will affect how the prescription hits your glasses and therefore how well you can see. 

Pair has a 30-day return-for-free guarantee, so if you try them and don't like them, you can return them for a refund. There's no try-on service through the mail -- the glasses you order will be sent to you with a prescription. 

Each pair of glasses you order will come with a glasses case, cloth for lens cleaning and a separate box for your top frames.  

How they work as glasses

The most important question for me to answer, as a person who needs glasses to see farther than a foot from her face, is: Do these glasses help me see? 

I was grateful to find both pairs of glasses helped me see, and the prescription seemed to hit more accurately than other pairs of glasses I've owned, which I found to be a huge plus. I also liked how these glasses stayed up on my nose better than most pairs I own, but this may be completely by chance and what happens to benefit my face shape/ears/nose may not do the same for another person. 

The top frames stay on (unless you knock them off your face yourself) 

The top frames are super easy to put on. Simply lift them to your face, align them with the frames and they'll snap into place. The reason why you can't attach the top frames to other glasses bought outside Pair is that Pair frames come with two small magnets in the top corner of each frame. They're made of injected-molded plastic and feel super lightweight. 

A pair of sunglasses held out on a hand against a pavement background

You can convert your Pair glasses to sunglasses when you buy "sun tops" from the company. This is a really cool feature if you wear glasses out in the sun and don't want to tint your glasses. 

I only tested a reflective, mirrored sun top. I didn't notice a significant reduction in eye strain from squinting out in the sun, but this is a cool enough feature I'd buy a dark- or brown-coated sun top for $30 to snap onto these glasses. Squinting in the sunlight, and the inability to put on sunglasses, is one reason I'm way partial to wearing contact lenses in the summer. 

Jessica Rendall/CNET

When I wore the top frames around the house and while working, they stayed put. They also stayed attached during my approximately one-mile jog and low-impact floor workout, until I tried to brush hair out of my face and the top frames went flying across the room. In general, doing my regular fidgets or subconscious face touches was the only thing that made the top frames fall off, so if you're used to adjusting your glasses or touching your face, there may be a short learning curve to not do that once you start attaching top frames.

Pair also offers "sun tops," if you want to add a little UV protection to your glasses. I got a sun top in "rainbow mermaid," which is reflective. I thought they were cute, but I didn't really get a big benefit in reducing eye strain from squinting at the sun while wearing them outside. I didn't try the darker sun tops, though, and the idea of such an easy conversion from glasses to sunglasses is enticing enough that I'd probably order another sun top just to try it again.

One important note: if you're ordering top frames or sun tops, make sure you filter your search by hitting the "select frame shape" button in the top left corner after you get to the top frames page. For example, my personal favorite top frame I tried, "the Fridas" from the Frida Kahlo collection, has to be selected for the right base frame. 

Top frames only cover the 'top' of the glasses

The top frames were cute. I chose a couple based on variety in style, but looking at all their options, I would choose frames that better match the base of my frame. As the name suggests, the top frames only go on the "top" of the glasses, not the stems that go behind your ears and across your temples. So if you like things to match, you have to choose carefully. For example, the aqua top I tried was a fun pop of color, but it was jarring against the base frame I had, so I wouldn't wear it out. Again -- this is completely individual.

How Pair compares, and who should buy  

As far as just plain glasses go, I really like the pair of Wandas as-is, and I would order them again in another base frame color just because they fit my face and the lenses do the job for me, quality-wise. The price for these glasses is comparable to what I'd pay using an insurance benefit at my eye doctor, anyway. 

If metal-rimmed glasses are your go-to, or you prefer shopping name brands or designer frames, you probably won't find what you're looking for with Pair. The company's base frame selection is simple, and none of the glasses are wire-rimmed. 

A small dog wearing colorful glasses

My favorite top frame design, The Fridas, as modeled by Annie. (Actual glasses not pictured.)

Jessica Rendall/CNET

As for whether the extra $25 to $30 per top frame is worth the buy, that's as individual as the top frames themselves. As someone who already doesn't love the feel of glasses and sticks to mostly wearing them at night, I didn't like the extra "thing" on my face, and I'm apparently not fun enough to see the value in adding more color or pizazz to my look. I can absolutely see the draw if you like switching up your style often -- especially for special events, like a wedding, or if you'll be taking photos in your glasses. Buying a $25 or $30 top frame should save you time and money, compared with buying an extra pair of glasses to have on hand. Again, just make sure you filter based on your glasses while ordering your tops so you don't end up ordering a mismatched top. Also, take the time to do a little digging through the many top frame options so you can find a design or theme that fits the whole look of your glasses.

I also think some of the magic of Pair lies in their offerings for children, giving those who need glasses an exciting option to test out what they like style-wise, or to indulge in a Marvel obsession, for example. 

As far as how they compete with other online prescription glasses companies, Pair's prices seem to fit somewhere in the middle of the pack (a little cheaper than Warby Parker, for example, but more expensive than some of the choices at GlassesUSA.com). The company's website is also pretty easy to navigate, and the ordering process is pretty straightforward. Creativity-wise, Pair wins hands down. Sometimes it's just nice to shake things up.