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Online retailers of eyeglasses and contact lenses have changed the consumer landscape for people with vision correction needs, providing a wider range of options, more convenient delivery, and (sometimes) more affordable prices. Two major retailers in this space are New York-based Warby Parker and San Francisco-based Zenni Optical.
If you are looking to purchase eyeglasses or contacts from one of these two retailers, you have come to the right place. We will help you decide which one is right for you by breaking down the differences between Zenni Optical and WarbyParker.
Here is a basic breakdown.
|Warby Parker||Zenni Optical|
|Basics||• in-person and online retailer
• sells their own brand of glasses and contact lenses
• sells major contact lens brands
|• no-frills, direct-to-consumer online model with cheap eyeglasses|
|Product options||• frames: acetate and metal
• lenses: sunglasses, single vision, polycarbonate, bifocal, and high index (1.67 and 1.74)
• add-ons: blue-light-blocking lenses, light responsive lenses
• contacts: Acuvue, CooperVision, Bausch + Lomb, Alcon, Scout
|• frames: acetate, steel, titanium, and others
• lenses: sunglasses, single vision, bifocal, progressive, and high index (1.61, 1.67, and 1.74)
• add-ons: blue-light-blocking lenses
|Cost||• $95–$200 (glasses)
• $110 for a 90-day supply (Scout contact lenses)
|• $6.95–$100 (glasses)|
|Who it’s best for||those seeking in-person and/or online shopping for both eyeglasses and contacts, especially those wanting designer frames without the designer price tag||people looking to spend less for eyeglasses, but still want a range of materials, styles, lenses, and add-ons to choose from|
|Downsides||• quality of high index lenses and contact lenses may not meet all needs||• fewer customer service features
• high index lenses aren’t high quality for strong prescriptions
Since it started in 2010, Warby Parker has become known for offering a huge selection of their own eyeglasses at an affordable price.
They offer a home try-on program where customers can try on up to five frames at home. You just send them all back and then you can choose the pair you want to fill with your prescription.
Though all of their frames can be purchased online, Warby Parker also has many locations throughout the United States. You can find the closest retail store to you on their website.
Zenni Optical made a splash in 2003 with a rather uncharted direct-to-consumer model that cuts out the middleman and offers eyeglasses at low prices.
“They keep their prices low, they don’t have any brick-and-mortar locations, and they keep the bells and whistles simple. That means no free shipping or insurance. It also means you can get a pair of glasses for as little as $7.”
You can use the try-on feature with your camera. You can use the 3D try-on tool by uploading a video of yourself.
“All of WarbyParker’s frames are made from either metal or a mixture of the two. Many of their frames can be turned into sunglasses.”
They offer a variety of lens types, including high index and bifocal ones. They also offer add-ons like blue-light-blocking and light responsive. They do not offer progressive glasses.
Major brands like Acuvue and Scout are included in their daily, monthly, and biweekly contact lens selection. The base curve of their daily lenses is 8.4 millimeters.
The Zenni Optical has over 6,000 frames and includes materials like steel, titanium and acetate. They offer a wide range of frames, including single vision, bifocal, progressive, and high index.
They give away anti-scratch coating and UV protection for free. Blue light protection is available for a fee. Zenni Optical does not sell contact lens.
The lower price end of eyewear retail is where Warby Parker is at, but they are not the cheapest. The baseline price for prescription eyeglasses is about 95, with the real increase in price coming from add-on features like high index lens, which can range from $30 to $130.
If you decide to add on other features like blue light protection or light responsiveness, you will have to pay at least $200. WarbyParker is an in-network provider for vision plans through UnitedHealthcare and other insurance providers.
“Scout daily contacts cost $110 for a 90-day supply of two, and a 6-day trial lens pack costs $5. All of WarbyParker’s products are free to ship on.”
If you want higher end frames, such as blue light protection, or high index lens, you can expect to pay more, but the most basic option will cost you $6.
Zenni Optical has high index lens for people with prescriptions greater than + or . The 1.61 high index lens costs an additional $19.95, 1.67 costs $34.95, and 1.74 costs $74.
Zenni does not accept insurance, but some insurance companies do. Zenni Optical frames are more affordable than other retail options.
Most people prefer to get their glasses online, even though Warby Parker has some physical locations. The steps to ordering your glasses are on the website.
- Go to Warby Parker’s website.
- Select either men or women.
- Select the style you want to go with by browsing the various frame styles.
- Customize your purchase by selecting your frame width, lens type, and more to add your glasses to your cart.
- You can check out as a guest or create an account.
- Add delivery method and shipping information.
- Add payment information.
- Place your order after reviewing details.
Zenni only sells online, so they made browsing and selecting frames easy. The steps to buying eyeglasses from Zenni are listed here.
- Go to Zenni Optical’s website.
- Pick the category of items that you want.
- Select the frames you want.
- Select the desired lens.
- If you want, you can select any add-on options.
- You can sign in or create an account during checkout.
- Add your payment information.
- Place your order after reviewing details.
Warby Parker has a reputation for balancing quality and design with affordability. They have a Trustpilot rating of just 2.7 stars, though, with a range of customer service negatives and easy ordering positives.
Healthline editor, Chelsea Logan, was disappointed that not all the colors of every style were available for home try-on.
She said that if you already have a pair you like, you can try to find something that is a similar size. I feel like many of the frames are the same.
Customer service was generally good. Ruby Thompson, editor of Healthline, had an experience with WarbyParker.
Zenni Optical has a strong reputation for no fuss, affordable online eyeglasses. Their Trustpilot rating is 4.6 stars, with many reviewers pleased with the straightforward, reasonable pricing, and top-notch customer service. Those few displeased Trustpilot reviewers were not happy with the 100% store credit return policy and what they described as poor customer service.
Roman Gokhman, editor of Healthline, liked the ease of use of the platform and the fast turn around.
He said that the glasses were manufactured in China and that they would likely be late, but they still came on time.
Warby Parker pros
- “All of Warby Parker’s eyeglasses are constructed in-house.”
- You can try on frames at home to see which one is best for you.
- They offer a 30-day return policy and free shipping.
- The program will replace scratched lens that a customer wears for the first year.
- You can place your order online or in one of their stores.
- They are considered in-network for some insurance companies.
Zenni Optical pros
- Zenni Optical has a lower price range for those who want affordable frames.
- Their navigation is all about ease of use, with features like a digital ruler and try-on tools.
- They have a wide selection of frame styles.
- Every pair of glasses has an anti-scratch coating.
Warby Parker cons
- They are not the most affordable online eyewear retailer.
- If you download the app, the virtual try-on feature will work.
- They only sell their own brand of eyeglasses.
- The quality of high index lens may not be suitable for those with stronger prescriptions.
- Scout lens are less absorbent than other brands.
Zenni Optical cons
- Zenni only offers store credit or 50% cash back on returns.
- Major brand names are not included in their selection.
- The high index lens may not be up to standard.
- Shipping costs are $4.95 and glasses are estimated to arrive in 7 to 14 days.
- They do not accept insurance.
How long do Warby Parker and Zenni take to ship?
Zenni has a standard shipping time of 7 to 14 business days, while express shipping takes 5 to 10 days. Standard shipping takes 5 to 7 days and express shipping takes 3-4 days.
How do you measure your pupillary distance?
The center of your pupils is the space between yourPD and your pupils. The measurement can be taken at home by following the steps.
- Stand close to a mirror.
- The ruler should be marked with the 0mm mark in the middle of your left eye.
- Close your left eye and look straight ahead.
- The millimeter line is in the center of your right eye.
Do Warby Parker and Zenni provide glasses cases?
Both Warby Parker and Zenni offer glasses cases with the purchase of frames. They have a variety of cases for purchase.
“Zenni is the way to go if you want to buy the most affordable glasses. Though it tends to have lower prices than your local eye doctor’s office, Warby Parker still tends to be more expensive than Zenni.”
If you want to try on from home, then Warby Parker may be a better choice.
Johanna Sorrentino is a writer, editor, and wayfarer. Her appetite for empowering information and great storytelling is matched only by her appetite for cheese and chocolate. Learn more about her at johannasorrentino.com.