I used GlassesUSA to buy affordable prescription frames—here’s why I’m obsessed
I look like a wizard in these glasses and I'm obsessed.
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I love glasses. I went from a shamefaced glasses-wearing middle schooler to a glasses-loving adult with strong opinions about tortoiseshell. When the opportunity arose to test out GlassesUSA, I was thrilled. Buying glasses and contact lenses online is increasingly easy, and the company boasts an ethos that promotes the sale of cheaper corrective eyewear with convenience in mind.
Before I began, I had criteria in mind. I’ve had glasses break in my hands from simply being folded up, I’ve lost glasses to the ocean, and I’ve scuffed, scratched, and dropped almost every pair of glasses I’ve owned. I needed durability, but my aesthetic tastes stray toward lightweight frames made of thin wire. I also have a very weird prescription (as in, could wear a monocle and be fine), so I was prepared to judge if the glasses I received made one eye look insanely large or small.
With all that in mind, I explored the GlassesUSA website and ordered a pair for myself. Here's what happened.
What does GlassesUSA offer?
GlassesUSA is an online retailer that offers glasses frames, prescription glasses, sunglasses, sports glasses, kids' glasses, and contacts. Its website claims to be “the largest online eyewear retailer” with options for women, men, and children. The site offers free shipping and returns (within 14 days of receiving your order), which is great for an online product.
First thing I noticed: They have so many choices. This website is better suited for people that know exactly what they’re looking for, but they have so many options that anyone who doesn’t know could easily find something. I went digging for a set of gold frames with pretty accents and found them in the Ottoto Waterloo frames for $88. The Ottoto brand is one of the lower-tier brands on offer, and seems to be similarly priced as GlassesUSA’s own-brand glasses frames.
GlassesUSA carries lots of designer frames, too, including Ray-Ban, Versace, Prada, Gucci, and Tory Burch. In many cases, the glasses frames were advertised as having “free lenses,” which means that the price of the frames covers the cost of the lens.
What is the ordering process like?
Getting your glasses sent to you is as easy as knowing your prescription. You can contact your eye doctor to get a copy of your script (make sure you’re going to regular eye appointments to ensure you have the right prescription information). We recommend contacting your eye doctor first, but if you don’t have access to an eye doctor, GlassesUSA offers a Prescription Scanner with their app.
The Prescription Scanner wasn’t something I needed, as I had my prescription info readily available, but I decided to test it out with the glasses I received. The process of using the scanner is incredibly easy—the directions are given verbally, and there are drawings and videos to follow along with. But for me, the results were a bust. The Prescription Scanner struggled with my prescription, in particular, possibly due to my aforementioned tricky prescription. It ended up not getting a clear read on my prescription, but offers the option to contact the help desk if you run into trouble with the Scanner. At the end of the day, having a script from your doctor is the best ensure you have an accurate read on your prescription.
GlassesUSA also offers a Virtual Mirror experience that lets you “try on” frames before you buy, using your webcam or an uploaded photo. This is extremely helpful if you’re trying out a new style of frames, or wondering what “oversized” really means. Plus, it's incredibly fun to play with.
Once you’ve chosen your frames, GlassesUSA will give you the option to enter all your prescription info. It then shows you the total cost, shipping info, etc. It’s very simple. When you're order arrives, the glasses come with a hard-shell plastic case, a card detailing your prescription info, and some coupons. I found the case to be more durable than those I’ve received from other online retailers as it's also lined to prevent scratching.
What I liked about GlassesUSA
It has lots of options. GlassesUSA offers a wide variety of frames at a reasonable price. It allows you to customize your frames with add-ons like blue-light protection. One thing I noticed that set GlassesUSA slightly apart from other brands I’ve tried out was the fact that it carries, as advertised, affordable frames while also carrying name brands like Ray-Ban and Prada. Affordable frames are available under $50, while designer brands hover around the $400 range. So, if you’re looking for the convenience of online shopping but still feel like relying on a brand of glasses you’ve bought and trusted before, GlassesUSA might be a great option for you.
It's great for people who haven't bought glasses online before. The website hosts a “How-To Guides” section that allows users to explore topics such as “How to Order Glasses Online” and “How to Find Your Frame Size,” both of which are great for first-time online eyewear buyers. Each guide has a how-to video attached, making the process incredibly user friendly.
There are always great sales. You know how we feel about a good deal. GlassesUSA is constantly having sales, including options like Buy One, Get One on prescription frames. The site really does its best to make sure that you can get the styles you want at affordable costs, which was a win in our book.
The Virtual Mirror is really fun. There's a reason we love playing with SnapChat filters: Seeing how we look with different hair, makeup, and glasses is incredibly rewarding. I could have spent hours just seeing what I looked like in different frames. A large part of trying on glasses in person is seeing how they actually frame your face, and if you're shopping online only, it's virtually impossible to do so, which is part of what makes the Virtual Mirror so much fun.
The SeaClean Line. Recently, GlassesUSA also released SeaClean glasses, which is a smaller glasses line made with ocean plastics. Each pair uses five up-cycled plastic bottles and represents a step in the direction of sustainability for their brand. For every pair they sell, the company plans to donate $5 to the Ocean Cleanup Foundation. I tried the SeaClean glasses in brown tortoiseshell, as well as the same frames in sunglasses. The glasses’ material is smooth and pleasant to wear, and each pair stood up to the quality of the other glasses we tested. GlassesUSA currently only carries two styles in the SeaClean material, but overall I was extremely pleased with the quality and detail of the SeaClean glasses (and the possibility of having more options for sustainable eyewear in the future).
What I didn’t like about Glasses USA
You can't try before you buy. Unlike services like Warby Parker, you don’t get the option to try out frames ahead of time, which is the big draw of some online retailers. GlassesUSA is great about providing the option for returns, though, so you aren’t beholden to your choices.
The descriptions are a little bare. The glasses descriptions could stand to be fleshed out—some people with metal allergies might want more specific info regarding whether or not the things living on their face going to be brass vs. silver, etc. The product descriptions do vary based on the brand, with some brands providing more information about materials than others.
You're on your own when it comes to cleaning. The glasses don’t come with cleaner, which is a perk of using eyewear brick-and-mortars we felt could have been replicated easily with a delivery service.
Should you order glasses from GlassesUSA?
Ultimately, yes! I would and will definitely order again. The product was much better than I anticipated, and more durable than many of the glasses I’ve received, even from my eye doctor. If you’re looking to try out a new style, have an extra pair on hand, or update your current look, GlassesUSA will likely have the frames you’re looking for at great costs.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.