HOUSTON-When we tell people they can get glasses-frames and lenses-for as little as $8, they often ask, "What's the catch?"& #160; There doesn't seem to be one.
Consumers are getting eyeglasses for as little as $8 by ordering them online.
There are several sites that provide this service: Eyeglassesdirect.com, EyeBuyDirect.com (which claims it is the No. 1 online glasses site), BestPriceGlasses.com/cheapglass and Zennioptical.com. Zenni seems to be the most popular site by far among consumers we spoke to.
The sites work like this: You go online and fill out an information form that includes your lenses strength and pupil distance. Other basic mailing information and payment info are also required.
Your lens strength is on your prescription from the optometrist, but your pupil distance probably is not. You'll probably need to ask your optometrist for it. Otherwise, you have to take the measurement yourself, and it is tricky. Pupil distance is the distance between your two pupils, the dark part of your eye, if you are staring straight ahead. You can measure it with a ruler, looking in a mirror but it would be easier to have someone else do it.
An optometrist at the University of Houston's Optometry School said if you buy online, make sure the glasses fit over your nose and ears correctly. Unfortunately, there is no way to do that without having the actual glasses.
"When the lenses themselves are cut to fit the frame then you want to make sure that the optical centers are placed within the frame so that they will lie in front of the patient's pupil," said Dr. Norman Leach, OD.
Dr. Leach also said it is still important for those who wear glasses to get their eyes checked by their optometrist at least once a year to ensure good eye health.
At $8 or $10 a pop, some folks say they don't care if they get a pair that doesn't quite work. They'll keep ordering glasses until they get it right.
Online prices start at $7 and go up to $75. At traditional optical shops, glasses typically cost $160 for the lenses and anywhere from $100 to $350 for the frames. Most shops do carry bargain basement glasses for about $50.