Glasses are actually much cheaper than many people think. Some people think glasses are expensive, costing $300 or more, because the big brands (Oakley, Ray-Ban, Persol, etc.) are all really the same company, Luxottica, which uses their monopoly power to distort the market. The major retail glasses stores (Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters, Pearle, etc.) are all owned by Luxottica, as are “vision insurance” companies.

Fortunately, we can now use the Internet to fight back against monopolists. Below, I have posted Tilia Bell’s guide to getting high-quality glasses cheaply.


The pair of glasses I currently wear cost me $42.33. My prescription sunglasses cost me just a bit more at $44.86 (+$6 for shipping). Both of these sites would allow me to return my (completely custom made) glasses for a full refund within something like 7-10 days, had I not been overwhelmingly satisfied with my new glasses.

Here is all the information I believe will lead to a successful online-glasses-shopping experience.

1. You will need your vision prescription.

This means your full prescription, including Sphere, Cylinder, Axis and (Addition?) for each eye, as well as your Pupillary Distance. I had all these things except my PD, which I was able to measure with a ruler. I did not need to verify with either of these sites that this was the correct prescription for me; I just plugged in the numbers.

2. You will need the size of your best fitting glasses.

We have all tried on each other’s glasses and found that some fit our faces better than others. This is because, like shoes, glasses come in different sizes. Too small, and they will pinch. Too big, and they will fall off. Also, large glasses will look ridiculous on your face. I have a small face, and so I look for glasses whose frame size across the front is 120-125mm ideally. My current glasses are 126mm across and fit really well, though I prefer a closer face hug sort of feeling.

To find out the size glasses you should wear, look for take your best fitting glasses and measure across the front of the frame in millimeters.

3. You will need some idea of the kind of glasses that will look good on you.

This is really subjective. I personally think that most people look good in rectangular frames, and that only really fashion savvy people can pull off the more visually intense looks of wayfarers (typical large hipster glasses) or oval, or horn-rimmed (librarian glasses). What I did was I would go into eye-glasses shops whenever I walked past one and just try things on. I did this many times till I had a solid idea of what I wanted.

Once you have your prescription, and size, and preferred style in hand, you can start looking for a pair of frames that suits you! Most sites allow you to search by many metrics including color, shape, material and style. They also have a “try on” feature, where you can upload a photo of yourself and put the frames on that way, but I found this to be virtually useless.

That’s it! Please share this article, and update your glasses!