Options, Pros & Cons, Is It Worth It?

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Anyone who has ever needed eyeglasses knows the headache.

They’re always more expensive than you expected, and then there’s the task of choosing something that’s going to sit on your face all your waking hours. And it’s hardly a one-time purchase: glasses break, prescriptions become outdated, and personal style preferences change.

Some customers have tried to solve these issues by purchasing their glasses online. Zenni Optical was one of the first online eyeglass companies on the market.

Here’s a breakdown of what Zenni has to offer those looking to take the headache out of their next glasses purchase.

Zenni Optical is an online-only retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. It was founded in San Francisco in 2003.

The company is able to keep prices lower by selling glasses directly to consumers, without an intermediary and avoiding overhead costs.

Here are some pros and cons of their offering to consider.

Zenni Optical pros

  • It has a more affordable lineup of eyeglasses, starting at $6.95.
  • Zenni boasts a large selection of frames, with different sizes, styles, and colors.
  • Customers say that the online platform is easy to use, offering features like a digital ruler to measure the distance between your eyes and try-on tools that help you determine which frames look best on your face.

Zenni Optical cons

  • The company doesn’t accept insurance.
  • If you have stronger prescriptions that require high-index lenses, you’ll likely find that Zenni’s glasses won’t meet your needs.
  • You won’t find major brand names in their lineup.
  • It doesn’t include free shipping. Shipping costs $4.95 and arrives in 2-3 weeks.

Zenni Optical offers a catalog of more than 6,000 frames for men, women, and children. It also offers a host of options for lenses, including:

  • sunglasses (most of their frames are available as sunglasses)
  • no-lenses frames
  • single vision
  • bifocals
  • progressives

All of Zenni’s eyeglasses come with antiscratch coating and UV protection coating for no extra cost. The company offers blue-light protection, called Blokz, starting at $16.95.

Zenni also offers protective glasses and sports glasses.

The company doesn’t offer contacts.

The wide selection of frames is what most customers like best about Zenni Optical. One customer, Healthline editor Roman Gokhman, says: “The selection was great, and the glasses fit really well.”

With Zenni Optical, the price for glasses can range from $6.95 for the most basic set to $50 for higher-end frames with add-ons such as Blokz for blue light protection.

If you have a strong prescription, greater than + or – 4.25, you may want to consider high-index lenses. Zenni Optical offers three types of high-index lenses:

  • 1.61 at an additional cost of $19.95
  • 1.67 at an additional cost of $34.95
  • 1.74 at $74.95

So, if you need the high-index lenses, you’re looking at upwards of $100 for eyeglasses, depending on the frame.

Though Zenni doesn’t accept insurance, some insurance companies may offer reimbursement. If you have insurance, check your coverage details.

Consider that some customers with strong prescriptions question the quality of Zenni’s high-index lenses.

Zenni Optical owns a production facility in China.

Once you place your order, it goes straight to the factory where all the frames and lenses are made, according to the company. There, the lenses are cut and assembled to your frames using the pupillary distance and prescription information you have provided.

Their quality control department analyzes each pair of glasses for defects before it’s shipped to you, according to the company.

You’ll need your prescription and your pupillary distance (PD) measurement.

Your prescription details from your most recent eye exam may have these measurements and you can request this from the prescriber’s office. You can also measure your PD yourself.

To measure your PD, follow these steps:

  1. Look into a mirror and hold a ruler against your brow line.
  2. Starting with the right eye, align the ruler’s 0 mm with the center of your pupil.
  3. Measure the distance from your right to your left pupil.

All orders are placed online.

  1. Start by filling in your PD measurement and lens type.
  2. Then use the filters to choose the color, shape, material, and frame size that you want. You can see how the glasses will look on your face by using the try-on feature with your built-in camera. There’s also a 3D try-on tool that you can use by uploading a video of yourself.
  3. Once the frame is selected, you’re asked to fill in your prescription information and select any add-on coating you may want, such as antireflective or oil-resistant coatings.

Order prescription and non-prescription eyewear from Zenni Optical.

Zenni Optical uses UPS, FedEx, or USPS to ship its glasses from its facility in China to customers all over the world. Its website estimates a delivery time of 2 to 3 weeks from the time the order is placed. Many customers report accuracy with this estimate.

“I needed new glasses last March, just as the pandemic was getting started. Even though the glasses are manufactured in China and they messaged that they would likely be late, they still came on time,” Gokhman says.

Zenni Optical offers a 30-day return policy, but note it only offers a one-time-use 100 percent store credit (excluding shipping) or a 50 percent refund (excluding shipping).

You must call customer service for a return authorization number within 30 days of the date you received your glasses.

Zenni doesn’t offer a repair service.

Buying eyeglasses online can be worthwhile, especially for those with basic requirements. Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying eyeglasses online:

  • Give it a try in person. If this is your first time buying eyeglasses, or it has been some time since you’ve gotten new frames, it may be worthwhile to go into a brick-and-mortar optician’s office and try on some lenses, just to see the type, shape, and style you’re going for.
  • Get help with measuring. Get a friend or family member to assist with measuring your PD as it’s much easier with two sets of eyes.
  • Ask for your most recent prescription details. Double-check the prescription with your doctor to make sure you have the most recent version and are filling in the correct fields.
  • Use the try-on feature. Companies like Zenni and Warby Parker have pretty accurate “try” features.
  • Keep your prescription on file. When you’re prompted to save your prescription, take the time to do it. That way if you need to return them for a different lens, it will make the job easier.

Using an online service such as Zenni Optical can be a good choice, especially for the more straight-forward eyeglass prescriptions. It also can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

If you have a stronger or more complex prescription, getting your glasses through an optician or a company with in-person stores and services may be a better bet.

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