But you know, nice glasses can be expensive. My mom is an ophthalmologist, so for many of my formative years of glasses-wearing I relied on the insider connection with the optometrist to get a good deal on frames. However, in adulthood, I've had to get a few new pairs of frames (mostly related to my glasses getting smushed by someone's butt or cruelly twisted by my offspring--oddly, now that I never take my glasses off, my frames are much more protected) and every time I go to LensCrafters or what have you, I am floored by how much a pair of frames cost. A pair of designer frames (which, of course, are the only kinds that the big chains peddle) can cost anywhere between $150 to $300, and I'm not even talking about the ones with a blingity-bling Chanel medallion hanging off the sides.
At most chain optical stores, this also does not include the price of the lenses themselves, which--if you are a high myope like me and require a high-index refraction pair of lenses to lessen the Coke bottle effect--can jack up the price a couple hundred dollars more. Couple that with the fact that most people who wear glasses like to have a spare pair lying around for emergencies (see above: butt squashing, toddler torquing, etc.) and that's many, many hundreds of dollars for glasses.
Then I found this site called 39dollarglasses.com.
First of all, there are plenty of sites out there that offer cheap (albeit not brand-name) frames, some even for less than $39.00. However, 39dollarglasses.com is the place that I ordered my glasses from about a year ago, so it's the only one that I can speak to from personal experience. (Let me just explain in case this is in question that I am not sponsored by this or any company, nor do I generate any revenue or goodwill whether you click that link or not. I just really think that this is a hidden secret that people need to know about, because the last pair of glasses I got prior to discovering this genre of website cost more than six times the amount I spent on my web-bought frames, and now I am burning with self-righteous indignation against the brand-name glasses frame industry.)
The thing with glasses (which most of you who wear glasses understand) is that there is a highly specific fit, and not every frame fits every face. I know this as much as anyone--I have kind of a low nasal bridge (as many Asians do) and a roundish face, and on average I have to try on something like twenty pairs of glasses before I find a pair that feels right for me. So that's a problem with ordering glasses online--you can't try them on first. It's like buying shoes online. How particular are you about the fit of your shoes? If you are very persnickety, perhaps this is not the solution for you.
However, if you have a general sense of what kind of glasses look decent on you (I knew I wanted dark plastic frames with an ovalesque or rectangular shape), let me tell you a secret. The secret is in the numbers.
Glasses come with measurements, did you know that? They do. Look, take off your glasses, and look on the inside surface of the stems. There should be three numbers. Those are the top three numbers listed above. The first one (in this case, 52mm) corresponds to the width of each individual lens bracket (or to be more precise: eye hole). The middle number (16mm) corresponds to the width of the nasal bridge piece. And the last number (140mm) corresponds to the length of the stem, which is the stick piece that goes over your ear. 128mm in this case is the width of the whole pair of glasses, and 25mm is the height of the lens frame (basically how librarian-reading-glasses-narrow or Carrie-Donovan-wide your peeping window is going to be top to bottom). If you can't try on the glasses before you buy them, these are the figures you need to know.
(I personally have kind of high cheeks so I know I can't get too wide of a measurement on the latter--I had a pair of rounded tortoise-shell glasses once that, due to the height of the frame, rested directly on my cheeks, and the constant feeling of having something on my face drove me, by small and insistent increments, completely insane. So insane that I eventually shelved those frames altogether and just swapped out the lenses into an old frame that I had lying around.)
So what do you do? Provided you already have a pair of glasses that fit OK and are not too different from the new pair that you want to get (for example, I'm not sure how it works with wire frames with the nose pads and the conversion to plastic frames), look at the numbers on the inside of your current glasses, and use those to extrapolate for the pair of new glasses you want to buy. THE NUMBERS ARE IMPORTANT. Trust me on this. No matter how adorable a pair of glasses looks online, if the numbers are not right, DO NOT BUY THEM, THEY WILL NOT FIT. This was of particular concern to me regarding the measurement for the nasal bridge; as a low-nasal-bridged individual, I knew that I needed a pair of glasses 16mm or narrower so that they would not slide down my face. If I went to Pearl Vision (or whatever) and tried on a pair of glasses, I would usually employ a test wherein I would put on the glasses and violently shake my head back and forth to see if the glasses would fall off. Since I cannot try on glasses online, I just go by the numbers. For the most part, if the nasal bridge part fits and the frames are not too wide for your head (example, if your current glasses are 128mm wide, do not buy glasses that are 134mm wide, even if they are super hot black with green trim OMG NERD CHIC!! Again, they will not fit). Believe me on this. I have spent way too much time trying on glasses to steer you wrong.
The glasses above are the ones I got a year ago, by the way. They are sturdy and well-made (not like the reading glasses you get next to the cash register at Walgreens or anything) and even with the upgraded package that offers a high-index refraction lens (you know, so the glass is thinner and not as heavy) it still came out to less than $80. For a pair of good glasses, that's a very, very fair price. (If you don't have a very strong presecription and don't need the high index refraction lenses, it's actually less than $50, which is yet another way in which people with better vision win. That and not needing glasses at all.) I got two pairs last winter--an heir and a spare, as it were--after my old pair of glasses from med school finally bit the dust (and yes, there was a period of time before the new glasses arrived that I was indeed wearing glasses haphazardly patched with some electrical tape, and also, briefly, some surgical suture) and I have been extremely pleased with them ever since. I even just ordered a pair of prescription sunglasses for driving, an extravagance that I'd never allowed myself, because really, who's going to pay hundreds of dollars for a pair of prescription sunglasses?
Not me. And hopefully, now, not you either.
(This post is not sponsored in any way. It's just ME sharing the good stuff with YOU. Now go forth and see clearly!)