Affordable Optical Solutions: How to Find Good Glasses at Low Prices

Eyeglasses aren’t just a fashion choice — even though we love a fashionable pair of frames. They’re an essential medical device for millions of Americans and billions of people around the world. That’s right: billions! So, if you need glasses, you’re in good company.

But when so many people need them, why does it seem like the price of a new pair of glasses is something only a few can afford? 

The truth is glasses themselves aren’t that expensive to make.

Sure some lenses, like progressive lenses, are a little more complex and will always cost a little more to make. But when you pay extremely high prices for prescription glasses, you’re often paying more for the brand name than for the prescription lenses themselves. And frankly, that’s not fair.

Eyewear shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Everyone should have access to the vision correction they need. Fortunately, there are now a variety of affordable optical brands that make it easier for everyone to get eyeglasses. But before you choose a pair of affordable glasses, learn what to look for so you know you’re getting great glasses at a great price.

What to Look for in an Affordable Optical Brand

"Affordable" can mean something different for everyone. It’s as individual as our eye care needs. But there are some best practices that every good eyewear brand should follow, regardless of their prices. So, before you buy, ask yourself these questions:

Can They Handle Your Prescription?

Affordable optical: woman holding her eyeglasses while looking up

Single-vision lenses are the simplest prescriptions to fill. And any eyewear brand that offers cheap prescription glasses will fill a single-vision prescription.

However, if you have more complicated vision care needs — like astigmatism or presbyopia — you’ll need to make sure the affordable optical brand you choose can fill your prescription.

Even if you have a stronger single-vision prescription, you may not want to get your glasses just anywhere. Single-vision lenses can get extremely thick and heavy with a strong prescription. So, you’ll want to find a brand that offers lens upgrades that are still affordable for you.

Look for an affordable optical brand with advanced lens options, like progressive lenses (a more advanced alternative to bifocals) and high-index lenses. This will ensure you get a pair of cheap prescription glasses that are comfortable for your eyes and your wallet.

Do They Make Good Quality Glasses?

Affordable optical: pair of eyeglasses on a pink background

Whenever we talk about price, we also have to talk about quality — because there’s often a tradeoff. But when it comes to eyeglasses, there shouldn’t be.

You’ll wear your glasses every day, so no matter what you pay for them, they should still be comfortable. They should also be stylish enough to make you feel good about yourself. To ensure you’re not sacrificing quality for an affordable optical brand, look for these essential features.

Lightweight Frames

Heavy frames can pinch your nose, leaving red marks or indents. And if they sit close to your cheekbones, they can leave marks across your cheeks as well. It’s not pretty, and more importantly, it’s not comfortable.

You can avoid buying uncomfortable frames by checking out the material that your frames are made of. Cellulose acetate is one of the best materials for lightweight glasses frames. This plant-based plastic is extremely lightweight, as well as flexible, durable, and of course, affordable. Frames made from another type of plastic are likely to be heavier and less comfortable.

High-Quality Lenses

The lenses can also add a lot of weight to your glasses, which will make them less comfortable to wear, especially if you have a strong prescription. Look for an affordable optical brand that offers premium lenses that are thin and lightweight.

If you don’t have a strong prescription, you can choose standard lenses. But you should still make sure the lens on your cheap prescription glasses comes with an anti-scratch and anti-reflective coating. This will ensure that your glasses last longer and that you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable glare when you wear them.

If you frequently work on the computer or move from indoors to outdoors during your day, you may want to find a brand that offers additional lens options, as well. Blue light glasses can help prevent dry eyes for people who spend a lot of time in front of a screen. And light-responsive lenses that get darker in direct sunlight can help you avoid having to switch between prescription sunglasses and regular glasses.

Spring-Loaded Hinges

One more feature that will ensure your glasses are comfortable and durable: spring-loaded hinges. Spring-loaded hinges add flexibility to the temples of your glasses, which makes them more durable in the face of everyday life. And when it comes to affordability, durability is an important factor that can help you save more money over time. Durable products last longer, which means you can replace them less often.

Is It Easy to Choose, Purchase, and Return Your Glasses?

Man wearing a blue blazer and a pair of eyeglasses

Many affordable optical brands sell directly to consumers online. This is a cheaper way for the companies to sell their glasses, which allows them to pass on the savings to you. But choosing the right pair of glasses can be more difficult when you shop online, especially if it’s your first time buying eyewear this way.

Make sure you spend your money on a pair of cheap prescription glasses you actually like by looking for these features that will make the online buying experience easier.

Virtual Try-On

With virtual try-on, you can use your phone or computer’s camera to see what the glasses will look like on you. This will help you choose frames that flatter your face shape and make you look and feel your best.

Easy Prescription Upload

When you buy cheap prescription glasses online, the eyewear company will need to verify your prescription before they make and ship your glasses. The best brands will offer multiple ways for you to provide your prescription information. You should be able to upload a photo of your prescription from your optometrist or ask the brand to contact your eye doctor for you.

If you haven’t gotten an eye exam in a while, you may even be able to order your glasses now and get a reminder to send in your prescription later. This will give you time to schedule an appointment with a local optometry practice and get your prescription updated before your new pair of glasses gets made.

Along with your prescription details, you'll need to input your pupillary distance to ensure your lenses fit correctly. Many online eyewear brands also have tools to help you calculate your pupillary distance, but your eye doctor or optician should also be able to give you this information as well.

Easy Returns

Even if you use virtual try-on and order the correct prescription, there’s still a chance that your new glasses just won’t be what you expected. That's why it's important not to get duped by an affordable optical retailer with a tricky returns policy. 

Before you order, make sure the brand offers free returns. No matter how affordable glasses are, you could still end up losing money if they aren’t right for you and you can’t return them.

Affordable Glasses That Are Fun and Stylish

Stripes eyeglasses on a yellow background

In addition to affordable prices, you deserve a pair of glasses that you actually want to wear. Pair Eyewear makes affordable glasses that start at just $60 for single-vision lenses. But if you have a more complicated prescription, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with progressive lenses, high-index premium plus lenses, and blue light blocking and light-responsive lens options.

Our glasses are made from lightweight cellulose acetate and feature spring-loaded hinges, so every Pair is comfortable and durable. An anti-scratch and anti-reflective coating comes standard on all our lenses. And we have frames to fit a variety of face shapes — like The Wanda, our updated take on cat-eye glasses, The Soto, our classic round glasses, and The Larkin, our Clark Kent-esque rectangular frames.

But your style options don’t stop there! Pair Eyewear’s Base Frames are designed to pair (see what we did there?!) with our snap-on Top Frames, which allow you to change the look, color, or pattern of your glasses in a snap! So you can get the look of multiple pairs of glasses without paying for multiple pairs of glasses. (The savings just keep on coming!)

We have options for the whole family — with women’s, men’s, and kids’ glasses frames. And you can shop with confidence knowing you’ll have 30 days to wear your glasses and return them if they don’t work for you. So, find your Pair and find out how much fun it can be to save!