Getting a new pair of glasses has usually meant a trip to the optometrist for your annual eye exam, followed by selecting from an array of frames in their store. But recently, there have been more ways to order our prescription glasses remotely, thanks to a spike in online eyewear providers.
One of them is Lens & Frame Co., founded by Darren Rosenberg, who felt there was still a niche to be filled selling handcrafted prescription glasses and shades online.
“The retail eyewear landscape has changed drastically in recent years,” Rosenberg tells The Manual, nodding to the increase in digital outlets providing quality spectacles, including startups like Costa and Smith Optics.
Though you can now shop for glasses from the comfort of your living room, you’ll still need to visit your local eye doctor to update your annual prescription. But instead of being limited to your optometrist’s in-store bifocals, these online providers expand your selection. To keep you from getting overwhelmed, we curated the best digital providers and eyewear brands at every price point, so you can start seeing the world with style.
In 1965, orthodontist Bob Smith launched his eponymous eyewear brand and created the first sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam goggles. Since then, Smith has been pushing the envelope for eyewear innovation, designing sustainable specs with polarized lenses that make them perfect for outdoor activities.
One of the relative newcomers to the market, Roka has been in the game for less than a decade. Founded by two former competitive swimmers, the brand is “founded by athletes for athletes,” offering a selection of versatile frames that you can wear at the gym or at work. Buyers can also order four pairs of glasses to try at home, for up to seven days, before committing to the frame of your choice.
While this is the newest online eyewear brand on the list, founder Rosenberg has been in the industry since 2001, when he launched Kaenon, a shop that specialized in acetate glasses. After selling it off in 2018, he founded Lens & Frame Co. a year later. Based in Long Beach, CA., Rosenberg’s latest venture sells sophisticated glasses that are handmade in-state, and because they don’t have a brick-and-mortar retailer, Lens & Frame Co. can sell premium specs at a lower price point compared to other luxury retailers. The brand also offers free returns and a one-year warranty for lens scratches.
Costa Del Mar (or simply Costa) is a performance sunglasses brand based in Florida. Founded in 1983, The brand has become synonymous with beach culture. Costa has also worked on several environmental campaigns, including the “Untangled” plastic frames, which were repurposed from leftover fishnets collected from the ocean. On top of its prescription frames, Costa can also add prescription lenses to its sunglasses. We especially love the brand’s bifocals, which are great for those days on the water where you need extra visual clarity for activities like tying flies.
For almost two decades, Zenni has been an option for no-nonsense glasses that don’t break the bank, with frames retailing for as low as $7. The process is simple: Enter your prescription, and choose from frames that are divided by gender, frame shape, and face shape. Zenni even offers virtual models to try your glasses on, to make sure your purchase is right for you.
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