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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Zenni Optical Can Help You Cut The Cost Of Your Prescription Eyewear

My wife and I have been fortunate that we have not needed eyeglasses so far, either for reading or distance vision. But, last year, our oldest daughter failed a vision test at school and the school nurse sent home a letter saying she needs to get her eyes tested for prescription eyeglasses.

It turned out that she was quite near-sighted in her right eye, but her left eye was completely normal. Because one of her eyes was normal, it was able to compensate for her right eye when looking at stuff that was more than 3 or 4 feet away. So, my daughter never had any trouble seeing anything that was either close to her eyes (as when she is reading) or farther away (like a movie screen) until she was tested one eye at a time. Given our lack of vision problems, my wife and I were somewhat shocked that our daughter was diagnosed with a vision problem when still so young.

It turns out that there is practically an epidemic of myopia (near-sightedness) among children sweeping the US. Nobody knows exactly why even though there have been several plausible explanations offered. These include the increased amount of close work children do nowadays, reading and working on computers, the decreasing amount of sports they play, more time in front of the TV and so on and so forth. Some scientists have also proposed explanations linking environmental factors to the development of these vision problems in recent times.

In any case, the optometrist wrote out a prescription for my daughter, and asked us to get it filled right away. That is when we got our next shock: sticker shock at the prices of eyeglasses! We weren't exactly looking at high-end designer frames or anything like that. But even normal, utilitarian frames were very high-priced. We were looking at a minimum of about $100 to get a basic pair of eyeglasses!

We decided to do some research before getting the prescription filled. Every eyeglass store we visited turned out the same. The choice of frames was quite poor, and the prices were exorbitant. My wife and I almost convinced that cheap eyeglasses was an oxymoron! That is when we decided to do some research online.

It turns out there are lots of online stores that claim to sell eyeglasses for cheap. But we wanted to do business with a store that had some independent reviews so that we could be assured of the quality of the product the store was selling. Our research led us to this review of an online eyeglass store called Zenni Optical.

We then went to the Zenni Optical website and read all about how they do business. Zenni's website takes the details of the prescription and the order is then transmitted to their manufacturing facility in China. The actual eyeglasses are manufactured to the specifications of the prescription in China, and then shipped back to the consumer.

Zenni's prices start at just $8.00 for a basic pair of eyeglasses. What you get for $8.00 is a complete single-vision eyeglass with a basic frame, 1.57 index light lenses, anti-scratch coating, UV protection, hard eyeglass case microfiber lens cleaning cloth. Bifocals start at $25.00 and progressive glasses start at $37.00. You can get your lenses tinted in one of 7 colors for $4.95 more. If you want photochromatic lenses (which darken and lighten automatically depending on the ambient light levels), you can add that on for $39.00. These prices are just no comparison to the prices of these options in every brick and mortar store I did research in.

And, regardless of how many eyeglasses are in your order, you pay only $4.95 for shipping and handling. So, it makes sense to order more than one pair so that you have a spare available in case something happens to the first. If more than one family member wears glasses, it also makes sense to get all their eyeglasses ordered at the same time so that you pay for shipping and handling only once.

And if you and your significant other want to order matching eyeglasses for Valentine's day, Zenni has a special selection of romantic matching frames also! They also have a special selection of frames in a smaller size specifically for children.

But there are a few things to keep in mind when doing business with Zenni. Note that these are not drawbacks that are isolated to Zenni. Whichever online eyeglass store you decide to go with has the same limitations. First of all, you can't get your eyeglasses right away. There is no provision for an express order that you can then start wearing in an hour. The glasses have to be made to specification and shipped back to you. So, plan ahead (this is another reason to have a spare made at the time you place your first order so that you will have something to manage with while your next order is being worked on).

Secondly, don't look for designer frames with designer names. Zenni's frames are quite stylish, and they have a huge variety of frames to choose from. But, these are frames manufactured in-house, not designed by some hot-shot who wants to charge you $100 or $200 for the cachet of having his name or brand on your eyeglasses!

Third, and most important, when you have your prescription written out, ask the optometrist to measure your pupilary distance (PD) and write it on the prescription. The pupilary distance is the exact distance between your pupils, and it is very important to get this measurement right so that the centers of the two lenses can be spaced exactly right. Most optometrists will not put this down as part of the prescription unless you ask for it. Brick-and-mortar eyeglass stores will measure your pupilary distance in-store when they take down your order. But online stores rely on you to enter this information as part of your order, so make sure you get it from your optometrist. They are supposed to measure it and make it part of the prescription if you ask for it.

The third point above forced us to make another trip to the optometrist so that he could measure my daughter's pupilary distance. After that, my daughter selected the frames she wanted and the order was placed. The glasses actually came back much quicker than I had expected (in about 10 working days), and so far they work great. The frames have been quite sturdy, and the nose bridge has not caused my daughter any discomfort. The parts of the frame that go behind her ears have been tight enough to keep the glasses from falling off even when she runs around, but not tight enough to cause discomfort either.

And most important of all, with the eyeglasses on, she is able to see equally well out of both her eyes, so the prescription seems to have been fulfilled correctly. And all this cost us about a third of what it would have cost us to get the least expensive eyeglasses from a brick-and-mortar store near our home. And the frames she got as part of these glasses is much better-looking than the frames she would have gotten with the cheap eyeglasses at the stores we checked out.

So, I am pretty thrilled about this discovery, and will be using Zenni Optical for other optical needs as they may arise. If you are interested in saving money on your prescription eyewear, you should certainly check them out too. You will probably not be disappointed. You may in fact be thrilled, like me! It is possible to get cheap, good quality eyeglasses. Don't let the local eyeglass stores tell you otherwise!!

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