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Cheap glasses: How to find a bargain on eyeglasses

avoid cheap eye glasses

You've seen the ads on the TV and as you're checking email and surfing the web. Glasses for less than the cost of a dinner out?

Yes, you can get quality glasses without breaking the bank.

The term cheap glasses does not always mean low quality.

Here's how to find great glasses at a seemingly unbelievable price.

1. Search for the perfect look.

What kind of glasses are you looking for? How about a pair of sharp aviator glasses? Or maybe you're looking for John Lennon-style rimless glasses.

Or maybe you want a snazzy set of clip-on reading glasses.

Knowing what you want makes it easier to shop for those glasses and get the perfect pair of glasses within your budget.

If you have no idea what kind of glasses you want, look for a style finder online or try on a bunch of glasses in an optical store near you.

2. Visit your optician or an online store.

Nothing beats seeing how glasses will look on your face. Even better is trying on several frames to check how they feel and how you look in a mirror.

If you're in a store, try on several variations of aviator frames, cat-eye styles or whatever kind of glasses you're seeking. If you're shopping online, try a personal try-on tool to check how various frames will look on you.

Maybe rimless glasses don't look that great on you after all. It happens. That could be because some glasses are better for certain face shapes.

Find your face shape and check out the frame styles that are a better fit for you. If you're shopping for glasses in your pajamas, look for your online retailer's eyeglass fit machine or fitting tool.

When you've found a great pair of glasses for your face shape and the look you want, you're halfway home. Now you have to select the glasses for your frames.

3. What lenses and coatings do you need and want?

If you're over 40, chances are you're starting to have trouble reading menus in restaurants or text messages on your smartphone. Presbyopia is the normal loss of near focusing ability that occurs with age, and progressive lenses help you to see clearly at any distance.

Difficulty adjusting from indoor light to sunshine outdoors? Photochromic lenses will help ease your transition from inside to out when you're walking the dog, heading to the coffee shop or bopping in and out of stores on the weekend.

As we spend more time on our phones, tablets and at computer terminals at work and home, digital eye strain is a concern. An anti-glare or anti-reflective coating may help.

As with your frames, knowing what you want in lenses and coatings will help you to get the best glasses for your needs. Oftentimes, your optician may not detail all of the lenses and coating options (do you want anti-reflective coating?) available, so it helps to have done your research.

Your glasses not only help you to see clearly, but they also protect your eyes.

Tip: Get your eyeglasses prescription from an eye doctor your trust, and don't skimp on your lenses.

Now that you've got your lenses and frames all picked out, it's time to check out how they feel.

4. Take your glasses for a test drive

Many online retailers offer a free home trial of your favorite glasses selections. Try them on for several days and then send back the pairs in your trial box and order the best of the bunch online.

If you buy your glasses in store, your optical shop most likely will let you wear your new glasses for several days and if there are any problems, you can return them.

5. Check the reviews for your optical shop or online store

Will you be happy with the glasses you bought? Were others happy with the glasses -- and the service -- they received at your optical shop or online glasses store?

If others are raving about how they can see so much better now and how friends are praising their specs-tacular new look, odds are you will love your new glasses, too.

Check the warranty on your glasses. If you buy your glasses in an optical store, you can always get them adjusted for free. If you buy your glasses from the comfort of your home or during a lunch break at the office, your online retailer almost always will let you return your glasses if you don't like the fit or look on your face.

6. Look for eyeglasses sales around holidays

Bargain hunters know where to find sales and how to get the best deal.

You often can find the best deals on quality eyeglasses when it's back-to-school season (children need eyeglasses, too), ahead of Christmas (give yourself the gift of a pair of performance sunglasses to improve you golf game) and around Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Take advantage of these sales at your optical store and online eyewear retailers. You might even save so much you can buy a second pair of cheap prescription glasses or cheap glasses online. (Remember, by cheap glasses we mean the marriage of high quality and low price.)

Look for employee savings programs at participating retailers, too. These programs are another way to find quality low-cost eyeglasses.

And if you're a member of AARP, you can save on glasses every day at LensCrafters.

Discount glasses also can be found at the end of a season. For example, you can find great deals on sunglasses during fall and winter.

7. Don't forget your vision insurance and FSA/HSA funds

If you have vision insurance through your employer, use that to cover a chunk of the costs of your eye exam and eyeglasses, sunglasses or other eyewear. Our locator will help you to find an optical shop or online retailer who accepts your vision insurance.

If you're stashing away funds in a flexible spending account or health savings account, you can apply that money to afford premium lenses or glitzy frames.

Stack your savings to get the very best glasses

Shop eyeglasses sales around the holidays and look for end-of-season eyewear discounts. Add in your savings from vision insurance, employee savings programs and any FSA spending, and you could buy a high-end pair of glasses for a rock-bottom price.

The whole point is to find a quality pair of glasses that won't cost you more than a new business suit or a PRADA handbag. Cheap glasses are chic. You don't have to tell your friends how little you paid for your great new glasses.

READY TO SHOP FOR NEW GLASSES? Find an optical store near you or shop online.

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