New eyeglasses - what to look for?

Thanks to being gainfully employed (and insured!), I’m planning to get new glasses in the not-too-distant future. I’ve had my current glasses for about four years, and I grabbed those without much research, so I’d appreciate the wisdom of the Teeming Masses. What should I look for?

In particular, I’d like my glasses to be fairly tough, light, and cost less than $350 or so. What should I try to get in terms of:

1.) Lens material?
2.) Coatings? (UV resistant, scratch-resistant, etc).
3.) Are Transitions tints worth the extra money? (“Basic” Transitions tints, whatever those are, are mostly covered by my insurance - just an extra $25 copay).

Are there any other issues I should keep an eye out for?

lens will depend on your prescription as to materials.

polycarbonate lens are shatterproof, filter UV and will scratch.

For light glasses, look to “high-index” lenses. They put the same power of lens into a much thinner lens, but they also cost a good bit more. Many, if not most or even all, “frameless” styles require them.

Might I suggest Zenni Optical? You can get several pairs of glasses from them for under the budget you’re looking at.

Nice timing. I just ordered new glasses today.

Probably high-index, unless your prescription is fairly weak.

Don’t get too many coatings. The glasses I’m wearing right now are shedding coatings like crazy.

Anti-glare coatings can be nice. The ones I’m getting have a 2 year scratch warranty, which is cool.

I have transition lenses and, frankly, they’re pointless for me. When I drive, they don’t change because I’m not in direct light, but that’s when I need sunglasses the most! My lenses are also so small that they don’t do a great job of blocking light. There are clip-ons that probably will cost you less and are under your control. For me, I generally use a pair of glasses that are made to completely cover my prescription glasses. I like the wrap-around effect of them.

And yeah, check out Zenni Optical. :smiley:

Don’t overlook the frames; make sure they are right for your face. If you have a narrow face, avoid big glasses that will look like goggles or bug-eyes on you.

For strong prescriptions, in addition to high-index plastic also look for frame styles with small lenses, e.g. John Lennon’s National Health eyeglasses and not Peter Sellers’ big black frames. The smaller ones almost always look better.

OK, I seem to only post in the eyewear threads, but with 21 years (as of tomorrow) experience as a dispensing optician:

YOU own your prescription. If you’re not happy with frame selection or price, or service, at your doctor’s office, look elsewhere. You can call your insurance company to get a list of optical stores that participate.

If it seems the optician truly cares about his/her job, and enjoys it, chances are, you’ll end up with glasses that are right for you. I’d rather see you take your money elsewhere than sell you glasses that will never make you happy. Yes, my boss hears me say this to the patients.

As far as “the stuff”: Titanium frames are remarkably light weight and durable. Once they are adjusted to fit, they require almost no attention unless you have a mishap. Polycarbonate or high index lenses are nice, but not always necessary. I get the uber-discount, and I wear plastic (CR-39) lenses with anti-reflective coating. Do not pay for scratch resistant on poly, AR, Transitions, or any progressive (no-line bifocal) lenses, as I can honestly say I don’t know of any that are done without it. AR is actually harder than most scratch-coats. It is the one option I will always pay extra for.

Transitions: works beautifully, outdoors. It needs UV rays to make it get dark. It will get darker on a cold bright day than on a warm bright day. It will not get or stay dark in your car. It comes with scratch-resistant and UV protection already built in, so DO NOT PAY EXTRA for those options if getting Transitions. (almost sounds like your insurance may partially cover photogray, which is only in glass lenses)

And, when trying on the frames, put them on your face the way you intend to wear them, NOT the way you think the optician wants you to wear them. You would not believe the mistakes that can happen because someone pushes their selected frame close to the face when they actually wear their glasses a little further away. I know that actually sounds kinda stupid, but it can make a huge difference in whether you get a pair that makes you truly happy.

Good luck!


If you don’t mind paying extra for frames, and like retro and/or preppy styles, look no further:

As far as the Transitions lenses go, I had a set a couple of frames ago, and unless they’ve changed in the 5 years since I had them, I don’t really think they’re all that great.

When indoors, the lenses are still a shade of gray. They are not completely clear like a regular pair of glasses. Personally I always thought those kind of slight gray lenses looked dopey and I ended up with a pair for a couple of years!

The brightness of sunlight is not exactly what makes Transitions turn dark. They turn dark from the degree of UV light, so in a car that has UV filtering windows (and I believe they all do if made in the last couple decades) the lenses will not detect the UV light that’s already filtered out by the windows, so even if you’re driving directly into the sun on an east-west highway, you’ll still need sunglasses.

I also really like dark, dark, lenses on my sunglasses, and the Transitions don’t turn very dark. There’s a 2nd level of lens you can get that does get very dark, but those are REALLY gray indoors and REALLY look dumb.

I just recently got a new pair of prescription lenses and decided it was time for frames that come with their own clip-on sun shades. Mine are magnetic and simply slide right onto my frames. I absolutely love that now I have a pair of sun shades that won’t distort my frames when I attach them and also won’t cause any gaps to show up between the shade overlay and my lenses. Plus it doesn’t look dorky like other clip-ons do that are not designed to fit on your lenses.

Do you mind saying what your prescription is?