Should you buy eyeglasses online? - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

FOX 5 I-Team investigates

Should you buy eyeglasses online?

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

A pair of eyeglasses can run you several hundred dollars. To get that prescription filled every year or two is not always practical for families with tight budgets. So, some people put off getting new, updated glasses because they can't afford them.  

Online eyeglass retailers have popped up. They're cheaper, but do you sacrifice quality for a lower price?  

The rock bottom prices these online retailers offer are hard to resist.  Sometimes you can get brand new glasses for under $10.  A great low price on new glasses isn't a deal at all if you can't see out of them.  The I-Team tested three online shops with a mother who is just as budget-conscious as most of us.

Anna Kelly is a busy working mother with two children and a tight budget. Like many mothers, she won't spend money on herself.

"I haven't bought new glasses in six or seven years because it's several hundred dollars," said Kelly.

She admits she generally wears contacts, but she would love to have a pair of new, updated glasses.

Kelly and the I-Team tried out three online eyeglass retailers: Zenni Optical, Eye Buy Direct, and Coastal.com. But Kelly needed an up-to-date prescription before buying the glasses. She went to the doctor and got her prescription.

Kelly typed in the numbers from her prescription on the websites. During the process, she felt a bit overwhelmed by the choices and the information that was required by each site.

"Some of the sites were kind of clumsy," said Kelly.

Here's a tip. On your prescription make sure your eye doctor gives you your pupillary distance or PM. It's the measurement between your eyes from pupil to pupil. You'll need that and it's not always included.

Anna shopped, and easily found three pairs: A simple, single vision prescription before shipping at Zenni is $6.95; the same price for a stylish pair of glasses at Eye Buy Direct at $6.95; and at Coastal.com, it was much more expensive at $66.95.

After they glasses arrived, Kelly and the I-Team took them to Birmingham to the University of Alabama at Birmingham optometry lab to see if the prescriptions are correct. Dr. Jamie Reid of the UAB School of Optometry said the send-away labs got all the prescriptions correct.

Is that all that matters right? The next test showed why Anna wouldn't be wearing any of her new glasses home.

Reid said the glasses did not fit Kelly's face.

Despite testing the glasses online with her picture, none of the glasses fit properly.  Reid says in every case, the center of the left lens didn't hit the middle of her eye which distorts her vision.

"I wore them for a few minutes earlier and I got dizzy," said Kelly.

The I-Team called Zenni and the owner says return them to get 50 percent of your money back or return it for full credit and try another pair.

At Eye Buy Direct, management claims they'll take them back for a full refund.

At Coastal.com they have the same return policy and offered a buying tip.  Three numbers on your current glasses will tell you what size you wear. On the company's web site, go to the "Find your perfect fit" section just type in your numbers. You will then have a selection of glasses that they feel will work for your face.

All three of Anna's choices were a no-go, so what is she going to do?  She's buying some glasses online.

Kelly says it doesn't matter if the sunglasses are not perfect since she wouldn't be using them all the time.

On Friday, the I-Team takes a look at a more difficult prescription – astigmatism and progressive lenses.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • RAW VIDEO: I-Team's undercover visit to Boggs Mountain

    RAW VIDEO: I-Team's undercover visit to Boggs Mountain

    Thursday, April 24 2014 1:43 PM EDT2014-04-24 17:43:54 GMT
    Trial is set May 12 in Rabun County for a case uncovered by the Fox 5 I-Team that continues to trouble animal lovers across the country. Lowanda "Peanut" Kilby faces 60 counts including theft by taking, theft by deception and racketeering.
    Trial is set May 12 in Rabun County for a case uncovered by the Fox 5 I-Team that continues to trouble animal lovers across the country. Lowanda "Peanut" Kilby faces 60 counts including theft by taking, theft by deception and racketeering.
  • Identity Protection Bill Signed into Law

    Identity Protection Bill Signed into Law

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:28 AM EDT2014-04-24 15:28:15 GMT
    With a stroke of the governor's pen, a new law that could help protect your identity now goes into effect. Republican State Senator John Albers says his bill, now law, will prohibit public disclosure of private information in court documents.
    With a stroke of the governor's pen, a new law that could help protect your identity now goes into effect. Republican State Senator John Albers says his bill, now law, will prohibit public disclosure of private information in court documents.
  • Fox 5 I-Team

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Cheap vs. Frugal

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:15:25 GMT
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
    There is nothing wrong with saving a buck, but can you cross the line? There is a difference between being cheap and being frugal.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Hidden Treasures: April 24

    Hidden Treasures: April 24

    Thursday, April 24 2014 9:32 AM EDT2014-04-24 13:32:15 GMT
    We asked you to share your hidden treasures with us, and boy, did you ever! We got dozens of emails from viewers who wanted to know what the items they had stashed away are worth.
    We asked you to share your hidden treasures with us, and boy, did you ever! We got dozens of emails from viewers who wanted to know what the items they had stashed away are worth.
  • Weekend Event Celebrates "Anything With A Motor In It"

    Weekend Event Celebrates "Anything With A Motor In It"

    Thursday, April 24 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-04-24 13:10:13 GMT
    If you spend your days fixing up cars, reading car magazine, and dreaming about that car you've always wanted...you might be a car enthusiast.
    If you spend your days fixing up cars, reading car magazine, and dreaming about that car you've always wanted...you might be a car enthusiast.
  • Safely restrain pets with the PupSaver

    Safely restrain pets with the PupSaver

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:07 AM EDT2014-04-24 12:07:29 GMT
    Most people treat their dogs just like their children. However, when it comes to dog safety in the vehicle, many drivers are buckling the children up but not safely restraining their pets.
    Most people treat their dogs just like their children. However, when it comes to dog safety in the vehicle, many drivers are buckling the children up but not safely restraining their pets.
Powered by WorldNow

KRIV FOX 26
4261 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77027

Phone: (713) 479-2801
Fax: (713) 479-2859

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices