Glasses come in so many styles, shapes, sizes, and prescription strengths that each pair can be as unique as the person who wears them. But there’s one thing almost everyone with glasses has in common: We’re all deeply afraid of our lenses breaking, scratching, or cracking.
When the lenses inside your glasses break, it’s like an extension of your own body has been damaged (minus the physical pain, of course). But just because your lenses are compromised, doesn’t mean that pair of glasses is garbage. There are plenty of options for replacing your eyeglass lenses in person or online, and most of them work fast.
We rounded up a list of online places for glasses repair and lens replacement, and we spoke with an eye doctor about important things to keep in mind to make the process even easier.
We spoke with optometrist Ann Marie Griff, OD, about a few considerations when you want to re-lens the frames you already have.
When people want to keep existing frames and need to replace their lenses, what are three things they should keep in mind?
Some things to keep in mind when replacing the lenses in your current frame are:
- Have you had a recent eye exam and is your prescription up to date? Eyeglass prescriptions are usually good for 1 to 2 years after your eye exam, but this will vary depending on the laws in the state you live in. You won’t want to invest in new lenses unless your prescription is current.
- Is your frame in good shape? If your frame is old, you may not want to spend money putting new lenses in if it won’t last very long. For example, plastic frames can dry out and become brittle as they age, so replacing the lenses could make the frame more prone to breakage.
- What type of lenses will work best with your prescription? There are a lot of options for types of lenses, whether you need impact resistance or thinner lenses for a higher prescription. Other options are single vision, computer specific, or progressive lenses.
Can people who want to re-lens their glasses take their frames to an eye doctor or an optician?
Absolutely. Your eye doctor or optician can take a look at your frame to determine if it is in good shape and help make recommendations for the type of lenses and coatings that would work best for your prescription. They will also be well trained to take accurate measurements to ensure that your glasses can be made properly.
What’s the best lens replacement option for complicated prescriptions?
Taking your glasses to your local eye doctor or optician is the best option. They can advise you on the best lenses to help you see well and help your prescription look good in your frame. They will also be trained at measuring how the lenses should be placed in your glasses to make sure that you see properly and comfortably.
We were picky when making this list of our favorites for lens replacement stores. A wide range of price points and specialties are represented in this roundup. We also tried to give you options for in-person and online, as well as an expectation of how long the turnaround takes with each of these vendors.
Other things we considered included:
- User experience and reviews. We read every review we could find, which was hundreds, to get a feel for who is doing right by their customers and who isn’t the most responsive to customer needs.
- Company reputation. We made sure that none of the glasses repair establishments on this list had warning letters from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or a pending lawsuit for their business practices. We also looked at Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings.
- Available services. We tried to prioritize places that offer things beyond lens replacement, like reshaping and fixing glasses frames.
- Prescription strength. We wanted to make sure that the places we recommended could, for the most part, handle more than the simplest of prescriptions.
If you’re looking to re-lens children’s glasses, health professionals suggest checking in with an eye doctor or optician to do the work.
- Services. 39DollarGlasses primarily sells contacts, eyeglasses, and sunglasses. They also offer lens replacement services.
- Features. This retailer is known for its low pricing, and getting a basic, single-distance prescription replacement lens will cost you around $60 or less. The lenses themselves start at $39, and there’s a lens replacement fee of $15. There’s also a price list that outlines what every type of lens costs, so you won’t be surprised at checkout. You can see what some customers have to say online.
- Specifics. When you agree to order from 39DollarGlasses, you agree that if they break or damage your frames in the process of replacing your lenses, they are not responsible. While this retailer is more affordable than some others, you might have more recourse with another place if something were to go wrong.
- What you’ll need. After you place your order, you’ll receive instructions for how to package and send your frames. You’ll also need to give them your prescription information.
- Services. Boomerang is a service of 1-800-Contacts. It only offers glasses re-lensing.
- Features. When you’re replacing glasses for kids, customer service and warranty policies take on new importance. Boomerang offers the same lenses and customer service as 1-800-Contacts, including a 90-day warranty that guarantees the lenses for 3 months. They also carry a range of durable, high-quality plastic lenses that can stand up to kids’ activities. All shipping is free, and you can check your order status on their website at all times. Read customer reviews of Boomerang on Trustpilot.
- Specifics. Boomerang sends you a shipping kit, which you use to send the glasses back to them. It can take 7 to 10 business days before the glasses are ready to send back to you.
- What you’ll need. You can upload a photo of your prescription, have the technicians copy the current lenses with new ones, or enter the prescription manually.
- Services. Eyeglasses.com sells glasses and sunglasses in addition to providing lens replacement.
- Features. Eyeglasses.com sells a wide range of designer options and premium lenses. That means that their technicians know a thing or two about working with high-end frames. If you’re nervous about mailing your designer glasses out to have the lenses replaced, you may be interested in knowing that Eyeglasses.com earned 3.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot with over 3,400 customer reviews.
- Specifics. Eyeglasses.com doesn’t send you a shipping kit, or even a prepaid label, so you’ll have to track down a box and pay for shipping yourself.
- What you’ll need. You’ll need shipping materials as well as a copy of your prescription to send with your glasses, unless you’d like the technicians to copy the lenses that are already in the frames.
- Services. In addition to replacing lenses, LensCrafters sells eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. They also offer some frame repair services and optical exams.
- Features. If you prefer to drop your glasses off in person with a specialist to have the lenses replaced, consider LensCrafters. In some locations, they’re even able to have your glasses ready for you the same day you drop them off. LensCrafters operates online and has hundreds of physical store locations in North America. Customer experience and available services will vary based on those factors.
- Specifics. LensCrafters won’t replace lenses in every frame. As they point out on their website, normal wear and tear puts stress on the frames and can make replacement more difficult. LensCrafters will only swap out lenses on a case-by-case basis.
- What you’ll need. You’ll need a copy of your prescription (an appointment for an eye exam) and have your frames approved by LensCrafters.
- Services. LensDirect specializes in lens replacement, but they also sell sunglasses, reading glasses, prescription glasses, contacts, and frames.
- Features. Not every lens replacement service will replace lenses in designer frames. LensDirect, an online exclusive retailer, will swap out your lenses, no matter the brand of your frames. They also include anti-glare, ultraviolet (UV) protection, and a scratch resistant coating with all of their lenses. On Trustpilot, LensDirect has an average rating of 4.4 stars based on over 4,500 reviews. You can read other customer feedback online on the BBB.
- Specifics. LensDirect is convenient, but it’s not the speediest option. After you confirm your order, LensDirect sends you a box with a shipping label to use to ship your glasses to them. This takes a day or two to reach you. You then send your glasses back (an additional day or two), and it takes another week at minimum before the glasses are shipped back to your house with your new frames.
- What you’ll need. To verify your prescription, you can either take a photo of your prescription, enter it online, or ask them to copy the current prescription in the frames you’re sending, which adds 4 to 5 days to the turnaround time.
- Services. LensFactory only specializes in lens replacement.
- Features. LensFactory aims to provide one service. That makes their user-experience pretty straightforward and all of their customer services revolve around lens replacement services. They have over 1,000 reviews on Trustpilot, with over 81 percent their service as “excellent,” so it seems like most people are pretty happy with the service they provide.
- Specifics. After you place your order, you can ship the glasses yourself, or you can pay for them to send you a shipping kit, which costs $5. Anti-glare, which is included in some competitors’ lenses, costs extra. And orders can take 10 to 12 business days or more.
- What you’ll need. You’ll need to send LensFactory a copy of your prescription with your glasses. Your other option is to let them evaluate the current lenses in your frames and copy them.
- Services. Overnight Glasses replaces lenses and also sells sunglasses and eyeglasses.
- Features. If “fast” is what you’re looking for, this supplier will literally get you your glasses overnight. Overnight Glasses claims they can do this no matter the shape, brand, or prescription of your glasses. They even cover the cost of shipping, both ways. Anti-glare, a scratch resistant coating, and UV protection are standard with every lens order.
- Specifics. When you order from Overnight Glasses, they send you a label to print out. You pack and ship your glasses, and within 2 days you have them back in your hands. They have 4.77 out of 5 stars from customer ratings on the BBB site, so it seems to work out most of the time. Happy customers note the speed and communication of this company are above and beyond. Note that progressive lenses take an additional day or two of processing time.
- What you’ll need. You can enter your prescription when you confirm your order, or upload a photo of it. You’ll also need access to a printer and shipping materials to safely send your frames to them.
There’s no easy way to guess how much it’ll cost you to swap out the lenses in your frames.
A simple lens replacement from a reputable company can be as inexpensive as $50 or less, or it can creep into the low hundreds if you have a complex prescription and are adding specialty coatings to your lenses. The average cost for a basic lens replacement lands somewhere between $70 and $80, before tax and shipping.
What to consider with insurance
If you have a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) that’s attached to a debit card, glasses replacement is typically a qualifying expense. Most retailers listed here will accept HSA or FSA, but you may need to contact their customer service directly to verify their policy.
Vision insurance may reimburse you for the cost of your lenses, even though most online vision retailers aren’t directly affiliated with insurance companies. Again, you’ll need to speak with your vision insurance provider to find out exactly what’s going to be covered and their reimbursement policies.
When you’re looking for replacement lenses, there are a few rules of thumb to consider:
- Honesty. Look for a company that’s straightforward about the limitations of swapping out lenses and isn’t trying to overpromise. Replacing lenses can be a complicated, intricate process. Whenever possible, it’s best not to rush it, as rushing can lead to damaged or unusable frames.
- Price. Going with the cheapest option may be appealing, but in many cases, you get what you pay for. Since you’re going to be using your glasses for something pretty important (your eyesight!), spend what you can afford, but don’t aim to find the bargain basement price.
- Extras and amenities. Some companies include anti-glare, UV protection, and scratch resistant coatings on all of their lenses. Other companies use those extras to up the price. Looking around so that you know what’s included, and what costs extra, might be your best way to get a good value.
Re-lensing your frames is a way to give your glasses a new life. Whether you’re updating a prescription or simply replacing a cracked or scratched lens, re-lensing is typically more affordable than buying new glasses, and it’s simpler than ever, too.