Advice on buying glasses online at a great price

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Consumer Reports recently surveyed its readers and did its own eyeglass shopping to reveal advice on how to get great glasses at a great price.

Shopping for eyeglasses isn't what it used to be. Sometimes it doesn't even involve trying on the frames. Online retailers offer convenience and discount pricing, but there can be risks.

Consumer Reports recently surveyed its readers and did its own eyeglass shopping to reveal advice on how to get great glasses at a great price.

A lot of people still buy glasses the old fashioned way - at the doctor's office or at a local eyewear store.

Consumer Reports says you may get more attention there, but according to a survey of its readers, you may also pay a lot more. People paid an average of about $400 for frames and lenses at a doctor's office and independent eyeglass shops. That's about two to three times what readers paid shopping online. That's before any reimbursement from insurance.

Consumer Reports readers evaluated six online retailers.

Warby Parker sends five pairs of frames to try on at home. Shipping is free both ways. It gets high marks for quality and selection. Warby Parker's average price for frames and lenses is $141.

Zenni Optical also did well overall. The average price $69. Its big drawback is that you can only try on the frames virtually using a photo.

Consumer Reports recommend that you try on any frames you are considering purchasing online first to make sure that they fit right and that the quality is good.

A good strategy is finding the frame you like in a brick and mortar store, then look for it online. You will also want to check the warranty and return policies. You may have only 30 days for returns.

And if online eyewear shopping isn't for you, Consumer Reports readers also evaluated dozens of brick and mortar retailers. Prices at discount stores like Costco, Sam's Club and Walmart are often less than at an eyeglass chains or doctor's offices. However, the frame selection may be more limited.

Complete ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on the Consumer Reports website. Subscribe to CR.org.

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