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Get prescription sunglasses for the family without breaking the bank

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When you have a family of eyeglass wearers, prescription sunglasses can get pricey. To help cut your costs, look for deals online and check your vision insurance to see how your benefits apply to prescription sunwear.

Here’s what you need to know when shopping so you can find savings for the whole family:

How much do prescription sunglasses cost?

Prescription sunglasses can cost anywhere from $20 to $700, according to a survey by CostHelper. The cost depends on several factors, including:

  • Designer, brand name: popularity, name recognition

  • Frame size: child or adult

  • Seasonal trends: Leftovers from a previous season might be discounted

  • Prescription power: More powerful prescriptions may require more expensive lens materials

  • Where you purchase: Online, optical store or eye doctor

  • Vision insurance: Percentage covered by insurance

It’s important to know the typical going rate for the frames you want (and the lenses you need) so you can recognize a good deal.

Can you get prescription sunglasses with vision insurance?

Many vision insurance plans cover at least a portion of the cost of prescription sunglasses. The amount covered will depend on your vision insurance and what coverage you selected for you and your family.

Vision plans that cover prescription sunglasses costs include:

If your vision insurance plan provides coverage for prescription sunglasses, you can put your benefits toward your purchase. Just make sure to let your optician know so they can factor your insurance into your final cost.

Can you put prescription lenses in any frames?

No. Prescription lenses can only be put in optical grade frames, the kind you get from a licensed manufacturer, retail store or eye doctor. They are specially designed with grooves so prescription lenses can be fitted to them (and replaced, if needed).

However, not all frames are optical grade, such as the inexpensive fake glasses, plano sunglasses and non-prescription reading glasses you can purchase at your local pharmacy.

If frames aren’t optical grade, there’s no way to safely remove the non-prescription lenses they come with or put new prescription lenses in their place. Trying to do so could damage both the frames and the lenses.

Are transition lenses a good substitute for prescription sunglasses?

You might consider saving money on sunglasses by purchasing photochromic lenses, such as Transitions, for your next pair of glasses. Photochromic lenses are transparent indoors and then darken in sunlight to protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

But can photochromic lenses really replace sunglasses?

When in direct sunlight, photochromic lenses work well to shield your eyes from the sun’s harsh light and UV rays. However, they don’t adjust as fully when you drive because the glass in your car’s windshield naturally provides UVB protection, and most windshields are also treated to block UVA rays.

In other words, even though it may look bright to you, your lenses won’t “transition” because they aren’t exposed to enough UV radiation.

If you feel comfortable driving with your visor down and a little UV protection on your lenses, then photochromic lenses can be a great substitute for prescription sunglasses.

If you want the best UV protection prescription lenses can offer, then prescription sunglasses are probably the better option for you. Talk to your local eye doctor to see what they recommend.

Where can I get inexpensive prescription sunglasses?

You can purchase prescription sunglasses from online retailers, brick-and-mortar frame stores or your eye doctor’s office. Most places offer seasonal specials, sales on certain items and bundle offers, which can come in handy when you’re shopping for multiple family members.

Here are some online retailers that offer prescription sunglasses for all ages:

The best option when searching for your family’s prescription sunwear is to talk to your eye doctor or optician about what your insurance plan covers.

If everyone’s prescription glasses from last year still work (and the prescriptions haven’t changed), look into using your insurance plan to get prescription sunglasses this year.

RELATED READING: Best places to buy prescription sunglasses online

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