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Anyone who has ever needed eyeglasses knows the headache.
They’re always more expensive than you expected, and then there’s the task of choosing something that will sit on your face all your waking hours. And it’s hardly a one-time purchase: Glasses break, prescriptions become outdated, and personal style preferences change.
Some customers have tried to solve these issues by purchasing their glasses online. Zenni Optical was one of the first online eyeglass companies on the market.
Here’s a breakdown of what Zenni offers those looking to take the headache out of their next glasses purchase.
Zenni Optical is an online-only retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. It was founded in San Francisco in 2003.
The company keeps prices lower by selling glasses directly to consumers, without an intermediary and avoiding overhead costs.
Here are some pros and cons of their offering to consider.
- It has a more affordable lineup of eyeglasses, starting at $6.95.
- Zenni boasts a large selection of frames, with different sizes, styles, and colors.
- Customers say the online platform is easy to use, offering features like a digital ruler to measure the distance between your eyes and try-on tools that help you determine which frames look best on your face.
- The company doesn’t accept insurance.
- If you have stronger prescriptions that require high-index lenses, you’ll likely find that Zenni’s glasses won’t meet your needs.
- You won’t find major brand names in their lineup.
- It doesn’t include free shipping. Shipping costs $4.95 and arrives in 2 to 3 weeks.
Zenni Optical offers a catalog of more than 1,600 frames for people of all ages. It also offers a host of options for lenses, including:
- sunglasses (most of their frames are available as sunglasses)
- no-lense frames
- single vision
All Zenni eyeglasses come with anti-scratch coating and UV protection for no extra cost. The company offers blue light protection, called Blokz, starting at $16.95.
Zenni also offers protective glasses and sports glasses.
The company doesn’t offer contacts.
The wide selection of frames is what most customers like best about Zenni Optical. One customer, Healthline editor Roman Gokhman, says: “The selection was great, and the glasses fit really well.”
With Zenni Optical, the price for glasses can range from $6.95 for the most basic set to $50 for higher end frames with add-ons such as Blokz for blue light protection.
If you have a strong prescription (greater than + or – 4.25), you may want to consider high index lenses. Zenni Optical offers three types of high index lenses:
- 1.61 at an additional cost of $19.95
- 1.67 at an additional cost of $34.95
- 1.74 at $74.95
So, if you need the high index lenses, you’re looking upward of $100 for eyeglasses, depending on the frame.
Though Zenni doesn’t accept insurance, some insurance companies may offer reimbursement. If you have insurance, check your coverage details.
Consider that some customers with strong prescriptions question the quality of Zenni’s high index lenses.
Zenni Optical owns a production facility in China.
Once you place your order, it goes straight to the factory where all the frames and lenses are made, according to the company. There, the lenses are cut and assembled into your frames using the pupillary distance and prescription information you have provided.
Their quality control department analyzes each pair of glasses for defects before it’s shipped to you, according to the company.
You’ll need your prescription and your pupillary distance (PD) measurement.
Your prescription details from your most recent eye exam may have these measurements and you can request this from the prescriber’s office. You can also measure your PD yourself.
To measure your PD, follow these steps:
- Look into a mirror and hold a ruler against your brow line.
- Starting with the right eye, align the ruler’s 0 mm with the center of your pupil.
- Measure the distance from your right to your left pupil.
All orders are placed online.
- Start by filling in your PD measurement and lens type.
- Use the filters to choose your color, shape, material, and frame size. You can see how the glasses look on your face by using the try-on feature with your built-in camera. There’s also a 3D try-on tool that you can use by uploading a video of yourself.
- Once you select a frame, fill in your prescription information and select any add-on coating you may want, such as anti-reflective or oil-resistant coatings.
Zenni Optical uses UPS, FedEx, or USPS to ship its glasses from its facility in China to customers all over the world. Its website estimates a delivery time of 2 to 3 weeks from when the order is placed. Many customers report accuracy with this estimate.
“I needed new glasses last March, just as the pandemic started. Even though the glasses are manufactured in China, and they messaged that they would likely be late, they still came on time,” Gokhman says.
Zenni Optical offers a 30-day return policy, but note it only offers a one-time-use 100 percent store credit (excluding shipping) or a 50 percent refund (excluding shipping).
You must call customer service for a return authorization number within 30 days of the date you received your glasses.
Zenni doesn’t offer a repair service.
Zenni Optical has an excellent reputation for being a trusted and straightforward company selling affordable online eyeglasses. Their Trustpilot rating is 4.6 stars, with many reviewers pleased with fast shipping, reasonable pricing, and top-notch customer service. Those few displeased Trustpilot reviewers were unhappy with the craftsmanship and overall quality.
Meanwhile, the reviews at the Better Business Bureau were less complimentary, giving the company a 2.78-star rating. A few customers expressed they were happy with the affordability and convenience. Several other reviewers, however, were displeased with wrong orders and poor quality.
Buying eyeglasses online can be worthwhile, especially for those with basic requirements. Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying eyeglasses online:
- Give it a try in person: If this is your first time buying eyeglasses, or it has been some time since you’ve gotten new frames, it may be worthwhile to go into a brick-and-mortar optician’s office and try on some lenses, just to see the type, shape, and style you’re going for.
- Get help with measuring: Get a friend or family member to assist with measuring your PD as it’s much easier with two sets of eyes.
- Ask for your most recent prescription details: Double-check the prescription with your doctor to make sure you have the most recent version and are filling in the correct fields.
- Use the try-on feature: Companies like Zenni and Warby Parker have pretty accurate “try” features.
- Keep your prescription on file: When you’re prompted to save your prescription, take the time to do it. That way if you need to return them for a different lens, it will make the job easier.
Why are Zenni Optical glasses so cheap?
There are various reasons why Zenni Optical can keep the cost of its eyeglasses low. Zenni glasses are made at a dedicated factory and shipped directly to the consumer. Also, because Zenni sells its glasses online, they don’t pay for brick-and-mortar retail space. This means they can avoid costly markups, and they pass that savings onto their customer.
Is Zenni Optical trustworthy?
Zenni has an excellent customer review score on Trustpilot. The rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars means that most customers reviewing Zenni were pleased with the ordering process and the results. And it’s not just feedback from a few people — that rating is from over 134,000 reviews.
However, the average review rating on the Better Business Bureau was only 2.78 out of 5. Many reviewers were displeased with the overall quality, which did not meet their expectations for the brand.
Where is Zenni Optical located?
Zenni has no brick-and-mortar locations and only sells glasses online at Zennioptical.com.
An online service such as Zenni Optical can be a good choice, especially for more straightforward eyeglass prescriptions. It also can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
If you have a stronger or more complex prescription, getting your glasses through an optician or a company with in-person stores and services may be a better bet.