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We Ordered Glasses Online From Four Different Sites, And Here's What It Was Like

All the dos and don'ts to help you find your perfect pair.

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Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

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Disclaimer: The American Optometric Association doesn’t endorse ordering glasses online. Regardless of the prescription, ordering glasses online from an unregulated source can lead to complications that threaten your health and eyesight. Click here for more tips and information.

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When your vision is as poor as Dexter's, you're bound to ask yourself: What's it like to order prescription eyewear online?

There are so many promising online retailers for eyeglasses — plenty with affordable pricing, gorgeous frames, and fantastic return policies. But, above all, they offer the priceless gift of convenience: meaning you can eat Nutella out of the jar, in your pajamas, at the same time you're selecting the best frames for your face shape and choosing the lenses that'll correct your vision. In short, 2017 is a damn miracle.

If you're in the market for new frames, there are a handful of helpful tips to keep in mind before ordering prescription eyewear online.

We spoke with Andrea Thau, OD, immediate-past president of the American Optometric Association, and here are the main takeaways when it comes to purchasing glasses online:

• First and foremost, be sure to consult your optometrist before ordering online. This will guarantee an accurate prescription and a proper pupillary distance (PD) measurement. Speaking of PD...

• Your PD basically tells you where the center of each lens needs to be in relation to your eye. Don't guess this number! This measurement is not included on your usual written prescription, so make sure to specifically ask for it following an eye exam.

• Don't order prescription eyewear online for children and nonverbal patients; this should always be done in person.

• Certain prescriptions will be more expensive. Progressive lenses — aka ones that integrate a progression of lenses for all viewing distances, if you need glasses for both reading and for far-distance sight — will cost more than single-vision lenses, for example.

• You'll want to make sure that your frames are the perfect fit. If they feel too tight or too loose, send 'em back! Not only is this a you-should-be-comfortable thing, but glasses that don't properly fit can cause headaches and vision problems in the long run.

To get a sense of what the experience of ordering glasses from various online retailers was like, we, the brave souls at BuzzFeed, decided to test out four popular ones: Zenni, EyeBuyDirect, Warby Parker, and Coastal.

@jadedallasharms / Via instagram.com

Our gracious testers, Kevin and Jess, have different preferences when it comes to their eyewear: Kevin wears glasses daily, and strongly prefers eyeglasses to contacts. He's ordered his last four pairs online (hello, Warby Parker!), and his prescription is -2.50 and -3.00.

Jess, on the other hand, hasn't regularly worn glasses since the sixth grade and often thanks the vision gods above for the invention of contacts. Her prescription is -6.50, so any glasses she's owned in the past have been ~super~ thick — and lens thinning is pricey. Understandably, she was pretty skeptical about finding even ONE pair of glasses that she liked, let alone four.

Here were their thoughts!

1. EyeBuyDirect lets you wear your glasses for 14 days. Not totally satisfied? Just send 'em back.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Coolest feature: EyeBuyDirect has a virtual try-on feature where you can upload a photo of yourself and see what glasses will look like on your actual face.

Kevin: "In the past, I've only bought glasses online from Warby Parker. But EyeBuyDirect's huge inventory means there's something for everybody, and this was by far my favorite retailer. They have the cheapest prices, and the pair I ordered is high quality and fits my face perfectly. Plus, it was $25! In fact, I wear these frames daily now. I've always wanted a semi-clear pair of glasses, so when I found a pair with a slight blue tint, I figured I'd give them a try. I'm honestly glad I did. The EyeBuyDirect site itself is easy to navigate and super stylish."

Jess: "While the glasses I chose from EyeBuyDirect weren't my favorite of the four, their site was the most helpful for actually learning how to buy glasses online: They tell you how to measure your pupillary distance as well as help you choose colors and styles. The frames I got from here look and feel sturdy but are still really lightweight, which I like."

Prices start at $6 for frames, plus single-vision lenses for $6.95, bifocal lenses for $29, and free-form progressive lenses for $49.

Get Kevin's pair ("Hubris") for $25+ and Jess's pair ("Sweet Janet") $49+.

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2. Zenni prides itself on stylish, trendy prescription glasses that won't break the bank. I'm talking pairs that cost under $20. (Yes, really!)

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Coolest feature: Zenni features customer reviews underneath all its product listings, meaning you can read through other people's honest opinions about the glasses you're thinkin' about buying.

Kevin: "This pair looks good, feels comfortable even after an entire day's wear, and was inexpensive. I also really like the two-toned tortoiseshell color. These were pretty plain, but I don't have any complaints about them."

Jess: "These frames are my absolute favorite out of the bunch, and sometimes I even wear them WILLINGLY and ON PURPOSE in lieu of contacts! They are incredibly light and thin, and the matte gold looks much more expensive than it was. I've noticed tons of people in NYC wearing the same style, but these glasses are so minimal and subtle that they look slightly different on each person. Plus, they go with whatever you're wearing."

Prices start at $6.95 with single-vision lenses included, plus progressive lenses for $27.95, bifocal lenses for $17, and fingerprint-resistant lenses for $14.95.

Get Kevin's pair ("Sepulveda") for $25.95+ and Jess's pair ("Acetate") for $27.95+.

3. Warby Parker is one of the most popular online retailers, known for its super-helpful at-home try-on feature.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Coolest feature: Its signature at-home try-on option. You can pick up to five frames and they'll be sent to you for free — plus the package comes with a prepaid return label, meaning you can return 'em for free too!

Kevin: "The Warby Parker glasses were just OK. They were the most expensive out of the bunch, and the color online looked slightly different than what I received. I also didn't like the shape of the glasses as much as I thought I would. I think that if you're considering glasses from Warby Parker, definitely take advantage of their home try-on program to make sure you find a pair that works best for you."

Jess: "I've always been skeptical about trendy frames since they can become dated so easily, but there's something timeless about the shape and style of these ~trendy~ glasses that gives them a classic feel. I might still get carded if I wear these to a bar, but in a good way. Plus, Warby Parker's site is super easy to navigate, and while the price of these glasses is higher than some of the other ones, the at-home try-on policy is super helpful for a skeptical investor."

Prices start at $95 with single-vision lenses included, plus high-index lenses for $30, and progressive prescriptions for $295 (including lenses and frames).

Get Kevin's pair ("Dorset") for $95+ and Jess's pair ("Louise") for $95+.

4. Coastal banishes thick-AF lenses by offering base lenses that are 22% thinner than those available through other retailers.

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Coolest feature: For every pair of glasses purchased, Coastal donates a pair to someone in need through the Essilor Vision Foundation.

Psst: We tried out digital protection lenses with these glasses, which protect your eyes from blue light — the kind emitted from phones, computers, etc. — and work to prevent headaches and eye fatigue that result from too much screen time. (Zenni and EyeBuyDirect also offer this option.)

Kevin: "Although this isn't Coastal's fault, these glasses were actually my least favorite pair: I picked digital-protection lenses that have a blue coating on them. While this is a good thing to have (especially if you stare at screens all day like I do), walking around with them outside of my office isn't ideal because the blue tint is pretty obvious. I think the frame could have worked for me, and you really can't beat the $35 price tag. These might be a great pair to keep in your office, but I wouldn't wear them all the time."

Jess: "The weight of these is hefty, but in a way that seems very studious: They feel substantial and super high-quality. Also, as someone who looks at a computer all day, I saw a slight difference in how my eyes felt after wearing these. But the tinting is a little obvious, so I probably won’t wear them super often outside of work. In terms of the actual site itself, Coastal's best-selling styles come in small, medium, and large sizes, which makes it a lot easier to find your perfect fit. Their site also does a great job of trying to describe what type of face each frame would compliment, which would be more helpful if I could finally understand whether I'm a heart shape or circle face..."

Prices start at $35 with single-vision lenses included. Thinner lenses are $45.

Get Kevin's pair (Main + Central "Tuesday") for $35+ and Jess's pair (Main + Central "Weekend") for $35+.

In conclusion...

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Even though all the frames weren't necessarily a hit with our testers, the overall experiences using these four online retailers were all pretty seamless. (Kevin loved his EyeBuyDirect frames, while Jess willingly wears the ones she ordered from Zenni.)

Have you ordered glasses online? If so, what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments!

Get more info about these retailers (plus seven others) here.

To schedule an appointment with a doctor of optometry, visit the American Optometric Association.

These glasses were provided to BuzzFeed for review free of charge.

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