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Consumer Reports: Best ways to buy eyeglasses

Thinking about a fresh look? If that includes new glasses, Consumer Reports has advice from its readers on which retailers -- online and in stores -- they like the best.

There’s no question you’ll get more personal attention when shopping for glasses in a store than you will online. But a survey of Consumer Reports readers in 2019 brings into sharp focus the big drawback at traditional retailers: price.

The median price for glasses bought by Consumer Reports readers who paid out of pocket at a store was $234 per pair. Online, though, the median price was just $91. Even so, a vast majority of those surveyed -- 93% -- brought their eyeglasses in a store.

Consumer Reports readers said they value things like the skilled fitting and follow-up service they get with a real salesperson.

Costco’s eyeglass store, where you can get personal service and a reasonable price, was among the top retailers in the most recent Consumer Reports ratings. The frame selection, however, was deemed more limited than at independent retailers or the top online stores.

Three online stores, Warby Parker, Zenni Optical, and EyeBuyDirect, joined Costco at the top of the survey for good prices, but Zenni and EyeBuyDirect didn’t do as well on quality.

A tip for getting the best of both worlds is to shop around for the frames you like, then go to a discount store like Costco or Walmart for the lenses. The technicians at these discount stores often can put the lenses you’ve purchased there in the frames you’ve brought in for an additional service charge of under $40.

If you are planning on buying your glasses online, make sure when you have your eye exam that your doctor measures your pupillary distance. That’s the distance between the center of each of your pupils. Online vendors will need that to create your glasses properly.