Eyeglasses are an item I never considered ordering online until I looked at the $200 frames offered by the eye doctor's office, with lenses I was looking at $300 or more dollars for glasses. Since I had not factored this expense into my budget, I decided to explore the available online options.
I began by creating a list of websites that sell eyeglasses, I ended up purchasing glasses from two different sites with vastly different results. For this article, I'm going to focus on one site, Coastal.com.
They have a wide selection of frames and the site allows you to search using a variety of criteria including shape and frame material such as plastic or metal. After selecting a pair of Lauren Hutton frames, I had to enter my prescription and discovered that I would also need my pupillary distance (PD) number. This is the distance between your pupils and is typically not included on your prescription.
You can request your PD from you eye doctor, but they may not be able to provide it. The office that determined my prescription, would not measure my PD distance unless I purchased glasses from them, so I had to do it myself.
Coastal offers a printable PD measurement ruler which I printed out. The ruler included clear instructions and was easy to read. Measuring your own PD can be a bit risky, since getting it wrong could cause distortion in your lenses, but I was willing to take a chance.
After I placed my order, I found I needed to call customer service because a discount advertised on the website had not been applied to my final purchase price. The representative acknowledged that Coastal was aware of the problem and immediately credited my account.
When I call a second time, I asked where the call center was located and where the lenses were manufactured. The answer to both of my questions was Canada. According to the representative, after the glasses are assembled they are shipped from Canada to Washington state where they are packaged and sent out to customers. She did emphasize that they don't manufacture the frames and that they have no control over where a specific designer produces their frames. On both occasions, I found the representatives to be friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
Coastal kept me informed, providing an email confirmation of the order and tracking information when the order shipped. My glasses arrived in exactly 10 days. They were securely packed in a heavy duty box which in addition to the glasses, included a shinny blue, hard shell case, a cleaning cloth, and a key chain with mini screw drivers.
The glasses were in prefect condition and when I slipped them on I could see clearly. Because I was a first time customer and used a coupon, the total cost of my eyeglasses including shipping and the scratch resistant coating was $36.95.
I recently received a $50 coupon from Coastal in my email. This time I selected some Kam Dhillon frames. The total for frames and lenses with all the coatings would be $68 shipped, which I think is still a great deal. Frames are available in a wide range of prices so cost can vary greatly from my example.
If you decide to order glasses from Coastal, take advantage of all the information guides they provide. It is very important that you pay close attention to the frame and lens sizing measurements or you might end up with frames that are too big or too small.
One of disadvantages of ordering glasses online include the lack of personal services, such as fitting and adjusting your glasses. There are many chain stores that offer free adjustments, you'll have to check around.
Another problem is that you can't try on the frames, although Coastal will let you upload a picture and virtually try on glasses. While this is a great option, it's still not the same as actually trying on the frames and getting a feel for the look and the fit. My solution was to pick out frames similar in style and size I had previous worn.