By February 19, 2011

Eye Glasses from Zenni Optical: Spectacles for the Apocalypse?

My vision sucks. I read a lot as a kid, especially in low-light conditions, and my mother’s side of the family has pretty bad eye-sight, too. It was a potent combination, and by twelve years old I was in glasses, and by fourteen I was wearing contact lenses almost full time.

I’ve been considering eye surgery for quite some time, but something seems to give me pause. For the longest time it was finances, then my vision changed slightly every year or so, then I developed astigmatism. Right now I am a little nervous about needing “touch-ups” and redoing the procedure several times in my life.

So for now, I put plastic lenses in my eyes during the day, and plastic lenses on my face at night.

I read William R. Forstchen’s book One Second After late last year. It got me thinking about any medical or physical requirements of the people and critters living in the house. My dog Rosie needs phenobarbital for her epilepsy. I need corrective lenses for my shitty vision.

At the time, I had two pairs of eye glasses: one for daily use and one for “going out.” The latter pair were more fashionable but were prone to slipping down my nose and the lenses were too small for me to see much of anything. I hardly ever wore them. After reading One Second After I was determined to get some backup lenses that were more useful than two nickel-sized islands of vision in a sea of blurriness.

There are a few overseas eye glass retailers online that specialize in inexpensive eyewear. Some promote themselves on sites like Deals.Woot.com, and Zenni Optical seemed to have a blend of price, delivery time, and customer service that suited me.

While they aren’t the cheapest of the Internet eyeglass retailers, Zenni is still much less expensive than you will find elsewhere. I bought my last pair of glasses from Costco, and I thought I got off cheaply at $75 + tax.

Glasses from Zenni start at $6.95 including lenses. All of their glasses come with:

  • 1.50 or 1.57 index lenses at no charge (more powerful, thicker lenses are available for $9 and up)
  • UV coating
  • Anti-scratch coating
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth and plastic case

Additionally, my order came with a ruler for eye glasses. One really helpful portion of the rule measures pupillary distance, or the amount of space between your pupils. I had to ask Sedagive? to help me measure mine with a measuring tape, and it was a pain in the ass.

Ordering and Shipping Time

I ordered two pairs of glasses on January 17th. I read different reviews that stated it might take two to four weeks to get my glasses. Zenni’s Web site allowed me to see my order’s progress, and the glasses shipped to me on January 24. I received them on January 28, eleven calendar days after I placed my order. I was impressed.

Construction and Quality

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My Costco glasses aren’t super expensive nor of the highest quality, but they are better than the glasses I got from Zenni Optical. I got a pair of plastic, square frames and a pair of thin, metal oval-shaped frames. The plastic frames felt brittle, and the metal pair flimsy. I was concerned that either pair would break, but I gave them a try.

Over three weeks later, the plastic frames are going strong. I haven’t had any problems with them, and they remind me a lot of how I treat my “low-quality” Acer laptop: with a little bit of intelligence and respect. I don’t fling my glasses down, or rip them off of my face. No matter where I bought them from, I should probably handle my glasses with a little more care. So the frames from Zenni will probably be fine for quite some time.

Unfortunately, the wire framed pair’s prescription felt too “strong.” I checked the invoice to make sure that I had typed in my prescription correctly. I had, so I wondered if they were made incorrectly at the factory. I wrote to Zenni, and they replied within 12 hours. My experience with their customer service branch began.

Customer Service

Zenni Optical asked me to scan my prescription and email it to them. No problem, but I was glad I had access to a scanner. I am sure my optometrist could have faxed the information over, but that would have been a hassle.

By the next day I was authorized to send my glasses back to Zenni. I got them in the mail on February 7th; Zenni received them on 9th.

Eight days later I got a phone call from Zenni Optical and they left me a message. I called them back, and was treated to the most ingenious call waiting system ever. The system told me different ways to get help, and then counted down the numbers of callers in front of me. Pretty cool stuff, and way better than the useless and obligatory “your call is important to us, please continue to hold” bullshit.

I was connected to a customer service representative. Apparently the prescription was right, but the glasses were not bent correctly for the power and shape of my lenses. The nice lady offered to send the glasses back to me at no charge, or issue me a store credit equivalent to 50% of the value of the pair I returned. I opted to get the glasses sent back to me.

I haven’t received the glasses yet, but I am hopeful that the adjustment corrected my problem.

So far I am satisfied with the glasses from Zenni Optical. I am wearing the plastic pair right now, and they have been great so far.

I recommend that you pick up a few pair. I originally bought mine as backups, but I like the plastic frames so much they’ve become my daily pair. At less than $15 shipped per pair you may be able to put a spare pair in any emergency bags you’ve built up and keep a few handy in case you break your primary set.

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