PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Americans spend more than $15 billion each year on eyewear. Let’s face it, eyeglasses aren’t cheap and insurance often only pays for a new pair every couple of years. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan takes a look at a way some are finding clarity, by ordering their glasses on-line.

“I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine years old,” says Denise Leffingwell. She’s been seeing quite clearly these days, adding, “The average I pay when I go through insurance is two hundred dollars, these are eight dollars.” “The pair of glasses I was wearing before I found this website cost six hundred dollars,” says Jill Morin. She has genetic eye problems compounded by a stigmatism, so she was stunned when an eight dollar pair of on prescription glasses gave her clarity. She says, “It’s not too good to be true. It’s absolutely true.”

Watch the video… is a popular website which allows you to use your doctor’s prescription to order on line. On the site you can find eyeglasses priced between $6.95 and $45.95 a pair. But Doctor Janet DeBerry Steinberg at the Scheie Eye Institute at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center can envision some problems with online orders. She says, “It’s called buyer beware, you don’t know what you’re getting and how long they are going to last.” Dr. Steinberg says that while the price may be right, there are other things to consider. She says, “We want measurement to be proper and exact, we want precision and we want quality of lenses.” According to Dr. Steinberg, “When you have a complex prescription you want a highly qualified optician taking the measurements, making sure that everything is done properly, checking the glasses when they are finished and then fitting them again, on the patient afterwards to make sure that everything is perfect and as it should be.”

When placing orders on the Zenni Optical site you need to provide your pupillary distance. If it isn’t on your prescription, they offer directions on how to measure that on your own. The site also allows you to upload a photo of yourself so you can see how various frames will look on your face virtually.

Some bespectacled buyers see only advantages by going online. Jill Morin’s prescription glasses were half the price of her two year old daughter’s play sunglasses. That’s a savings she sees to be clearly worth it.


Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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