This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Zenni Optical. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I was given the opportunity to order prescription eyeglasses from Zenni Optical, I jumped on it. I wear specs all day every day and have always invested a lot in my frames and lenses. I was eager to try an inexpensive option at the other end of the price range.

With an open mind and busloads of curiosity, I hopped onto the site and ordered two pairs of specs. The grand total for two pairs came to only $54.90. Ordinarily I would have paid ten times that amount for one pair of prescription eyewear (with some help from our medical insurance of course). The price difference was astounding.

The Zenni Optical site is fairly easy to use if you have a recent eyeglasses prescription in hand. But you do need to be familiar with measurements like lens width and height, temple length, and frame width and weight, in order to select a style that will work for your face shape. You also need to measure your PD (pupillary distance, the distance between the centers of your pupils). I enlisted Greg’s help for that measurement.

As I searched for the right pair on Zenni’s site, I found myself having two main concerns:

  1. Selecting a pair of killer specs is not easy under any circumstances. The slightest change in frame shape, color or detailing makes the world of difference. It’s definitely an art and not a science, and for this reason I was very skeptical about ordering prescription eyewear online. On the other hand, these Zenni’s specs are so inexpensive that one could afford to make several mistakes before finding a pair that looked good. You can also measure the dimensions of a frame that you’ve worn in the past and find a Zenni pair that is quite similar.
  2. I also worried about the accuracy of the prescription. I mean, would I actually be able to see properly with these inexpensive specs?

Despite these concerns, my mind was still open. After using my own specs as references for calculating the dimensions, I placed an order for a red full rimmed, acetate pair, and fun patterned plastic pair.

Zenni 2Zenni 1

The specs arrived three weeks later. The first thing I noticed was that one pair was completely bent out of shape. I phoned Zenni Optical customer service hoping that they would send me another pair. No. I was told to hold the frames under hot water and bend them back into shape. Okay. Moving on.

The lenses seemed fine — I can see quite sharply through both pairs of specs — but aesthetically the frames were not so fab and I won’t be sporting them as everyday eyewear. First, the shapes are unflattering, which illustrates how difficult it is to select specs without seeing them in person. Second, the quality is in line with the price. The only way I can think of describing it is that they seem a bit like toy glasses. Finally, the colours look quite different in person to the way they did on my computer screen.

This experience has reinforced my opinion that specs shopping is something you need to do in person. Also, when it comes to quality you often get what you pay for and Zenni is no exception.

That being said, I have to acknowledge that these specs are incredibly cheap and there are situations where a “throw away” pair would be really useful, like a river rafting trip or a costume party, for example. Or perhaps you would really like to wear a different pair every day of the week. Zenni’s price point makes that possible.

In fact, the experience has left me wondering whether we are overcharged for specs in general. In particular the lenses, which in Zenni’s case are less than $10 a pair. I think the lenses in my normal glasses were ten to twenty times that price and I’d love to know why that is. Are they more optically correct? Will they be ten times more durable? If you have some knowledge about this I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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