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You could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings if you don't look online for prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. Buying prescription glasses online from a manufacturer such as Warby Parker or one of its many competitors in the eyeglasses industry is not only cheaper, it's much easier than going somewhere in person for new glasses.

To help narrow down your options to find the best prescription glasses online, I've pulled together the nine best vendors I've found. If I haven't personally used a service on this list, someone on CNET's staff has. We'll update this list as we get the opportunity to try more. Before we dive in, note the following prerequisites, caveats and tips: 

  • You'll need to know your prescription and pupillary distance 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. 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. 
  • Most of the sites highlighted here offer some sort of discount for first-time customers. That means the first time you buy glasses can be when you get the best deal, so it can pay to try several online retailers before buying glasses online.
  • See how to buy glasses online and save hundreds of dollars for more tips.
  • Some sites are experiencing shipping delays due to the coronavirus.

Read more: Use your phone to check your vision

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Several CNET editors have bought their glasses on Warby Parker, which has a good selection of sharp-looking frames. While glasses start at only $95 with a single-vision prescription, chances are you're going to pay a bit more -- around $150 to $200, according to my colleagues -- based on the type of frame you choose, your prescription and type of lens. 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, and many have reopened after being closed due to the pandemic. 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. 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.)

David Carnoy/CNET

Austin, Texas-based Roka has only recently branched out into the online prescription eyewear business. The retailer's marketing slogan is "The most technically advanced eyewear that doesn't look technical," and its glasses are impressively light, durable and stylish looking. 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 frames out there.

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. They 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. 

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: 10% off first order.

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). 

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

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 it out 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 eye glasses 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.

Current deals and coupons: Buy one, get one free with code BOGOFREE (discount applies to cheaper of two glasses). 70% off all lens upgrades with code LENSES70 (offer not eligible with bifocal or progressive lenses and "sale" items).

Shipping times: Expect seven to 10 days between ordering and arrival of GlassesUSA.com products, depending on the types of glasses and the shipping option you choose

Eyeglasses.com

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 individual models, 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 and country of origin. There are advanced search options too, such as bridge size and temple size, and B measurement. There's no virtual try-on feature, however, and many of the frames don't have models to show you what the frames look like on someone's face. 

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). Unlike Lensabl (see below), which highlights the feature, Eyeglasses.com doesn't market the option front and center.  

You can also get new glasses very quickly if you choose to pay extra for expedited shipping.

Current deals and coupons: 15% off for new customers in exchange for your email address.

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.

EyeBuyDirect

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 Rflkt frame and paired it with a higher-end lens. The price came out to around $150 -- you can go cheaper or more expensive. The frame quality was decent though not on par with, say, Roka's frames. 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.

Current deals and coupons: As part of its autumn sale, discounts are available on many frames (up to 50% off). 

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Zenni has been around for awhile, and it's the first site I used to buy cheap prescription glasses and sunglasses online. It's more of a budget-minded 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).

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.

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.

Current deals and coupons: Nothing notable.

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.

 

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

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? 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 start 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 $40, 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.

Current deals and coupons: 20% off sunglasses lenses with code SUN20. 15% off replacement lenses and Everyday Eyewear frames with code SEE15.

Shipping times: Lensabl pledges "about two weeks" turnaround time from when you ship your frames to when you'll receive them back.  

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

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 upwards of $250 or more, 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."

Current deals and coupons: $50 off RX orders more than $250 with code REXY50 (ends Oct. 18).

Shipping times: Around 14 days.

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

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 40% off all lens upgrades with code LENSUP40.

Shipping times: Expect 10 to 14 days.

More online buying advice

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.