ClearlyContacts: Is buying glasses online a false economy or genuine bargain?

Confession: it’s been about four years since I got new glasses.

I got my eyes checked and got a new prescription last year, but figured I’d deal to it post-trip. That time came a couple of months ago, hastened by the breaking of my current pair.

My eyes are a lot more sensitive than they used to be (age? allergies?) and I can’t bear the thought of wearing contacts everyday. Laziness and comfort wins over vanity.

ClearlyContacts.co.nz has a great offer – first pair free. But with my terrible vision, my first pair was still gonna cost about $120 with shipping and high index lenses. The Clearly Contacts free glasses¬†offer doesn’t really work so well for us super blind people.

In comparison, getting new frames and lenses from a brick and mortar place would cost at least $400. However, I’d have the peace of mind knowing that those glasses would fit perfectly.

That’s a big difference in cost and a hard saving to pass up, I know. But I can’t overstate how important fit is. I’m one of those people who will be driven crazy if my glasses don’t fit just so and sit just right on my head. Which is easier said than done.

I have a freakishly wide head that rules out the vast majority of frames, which pinch into my temples. I need nosepads because of my pancake flat Chinese face, as I can’t just perch my frames on the bridge of my nose. (I wonder if this is why I have such trouble with snorkelling masks…)

Did I mention I’m also super picky about colour and style? I’ve only found one pair offline that I really like and that also fits well.

Most frames look and feel wrong before I’ve even got them all the way onto my head, so I’m very wary about buying frames off the internet. Even if I find a frame looks good on the Clearly Contacts virtual try on view, is a perfect numerical match on all my measurements (did you know those numbers on the inside of the arms of your glasses actually correspond to the length of your lens, bridge and arm? I didn’t!) and thus theoretically a good fit, ¬†that’s not necessarily a guarantee that it will work in real life.

Everyone says they’re the real deal; I’m not concerned about quality or legitimacy. The only issue is true fit – something that’s hard to determine online. But since Clearly Contacts has a 365-day refund policy, I figured it was worth giving it a go. After all, it could only go one of three ways:

Outcome 1: Pay $120, find the Clearly Contacts pair fit like a dream, and voila, I’ve saved maybe $300

Outcome 2: Pay $120, find the Clearly Contacts pair don’t quite work for me, return it, and then buy the full priced pair in store. Once I get my refund, I’m no worse off financially.

Outcome 3: Pay $400 or so for the full priced pair in store and rest in peace with the knowledge I have a pair I love that fit perfectly (but wonder if the Clearly Contacts pair might have sufficed)

My first pair from ClearlyContacts just weren’t right. Technically they should have been more than comfortable – maybe even a little wide, on the loose side – but they pinched in. I thought they might wear in like a pair of shoes after a few days, but they didn’t.

Returning them was pretty easy – I just had to repackage them and send the box back, and my money was returned to my Paypal account not long after.

I thought I’d give it one more go before throwing in the towel. The second pair cost me a bit more – I couldn’t find any other frames that qualified for the Clearly Contacts ‘first pair free’ offer that a) I liked the look of and b) fit my measurements. But what do you know! It fit like a dream; the only downside is that this frame feels a lot flimsier and I’m not sure how long it will last. If it manages at least a couple of years, I’ll be okay with that.

Have you bought glasses online recently?

10 thoughts on “ClearlyContacts: Is buying glasses online a false economy or genuine bargain?

  • Reply Sense May 23, 2014 at 10:01

    I feel you on this issue.

    Can you not do Zenni Optical? I think they ship internationally now.

    I don’t need glasses anymore because I do the OrthoK thing. Lenses in at night, take out during the day, don’t have to worry about allergies/rain/sunglasses during the day. It. is. awesome.

    Also I like to try frames on all over, note what style/color works, and order them online for much cheaper. It is what I did with my Kate Spade glasses (that I never wear because I have my fancy ortho-K lenses now!). In-store is such a ripoff.

    • Reply eemusings May 23, 2014 at 14:31

      Well, the whole reason I was even considering buying online was the first pair free offer, which I’ve only seen offered by Clearly Contacts…

      I did the same for my last pair. Only works with bigger name brands in my experience.

      Also, Clearly Contacts now has a showroom on Queen St! So weird.

  • Reply save. spend. splurge. May 23, 2014 at 10:44

    See for me, buying contacts is the only way to go. I’ve even started sleeping in them (I toss them every 2-3 weeks), because I can’t really transition from contacts to glasses easily. I only really wear glasses at night but with Baby Bun, I have no more “nights” to speak of, I am up all the time.. it seems. At odd hours.

    Anyway, my eyes are not sensitive and I just put in a few drops once a day to refresh them after sleeping.

    I keep glasses around as a backup JUST IN CASE. But I don’t really wear them.

    • Reply eemusings May 23, 2014 at 14:32

      I’m fine with transitioning. The difficulty is a hairstyle that works with both. HA.

  • Reply Tracey May 23, 2014 at 12:13

    I’ve tried Clearly Contacts twice now. The first pair were absolutely terrible. The focus was all off, causing a terrible headache, and they were very, very flimsy as you say. The second pair was better, but still too flimsy and after trying them out for a day they still had that focus problem, just not as intense.

    That being said, even the glasses in Specsavers feel pretty flimsy to me. I received my first set of glasses about 12 years ago and those are the ones I still use, though they’re scratched up now and need replacing. I just can’t seem to find any I like!

    • Reply eemusings May 23, 2014 at 14:35

      Yeah, I went to Specsavers and hated everything there. The only pair I found and liked were from a small indie place in Morningside/St Lukes.

      My first pair felt super sturdy, the second pair which is a different brand do not feel anywhere near as solid. Alas the first pair didn’t fit properly. I also think I got the pupil distance wrong on the first one, so I was getting headaches, feeling really tired, and my vision just wasn’t quite right toward the edges of my field of vision.

  • Reply No Nonsense Landlord May 23, 2014 at 12:58

    As someone who only wears reading glasses, and buys them by the dozen over the internet, I would be leery of buying a prescription pair of glasses over the internet.

    Doesn’t someone have to make sure that all is well when you are wearing them?

  • Reply Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way May 23, 2014 at 14:52

    I prefer to use eyeglasses rather than a contact lens. I tried to use a contact lens before, but I’m not really comfortable when using it. I changed my eyeglasses every year as what my optometrist suggest me.

  • Reply Morgaine May 24, 2014 at 07:26

    I bought my last pair of glasses at clearly contacts and I love them. Its been over 3 years and I still have them even though they are the flex style and I wasn’t too sure about how long they’d last (and believe me I’ve dropped them and sat on them), they’re still holding up great. I also bought sunglasses through them and when the first pair didn’t fit quite right, I called customer service and a rep went through some options with me and we found an awesome pair together. I shipped the old pair back and within 2 days got the new pair that fit amazingly. I will always go to them first from now on.

  • Reply Stephany May 28, 2014 at 01:22

    I am always a little wary about ordering eyeglasses over the Internet. I’ve thought about it a few times because it seems online glasses stores are popping up everywhere and so many are offering a “first pair free!” deal (or at least they were a year or so ago). But I am just SO picky about my glasses and I really need to try them on, see how they fit and feel, before committing to buying. So I guess I’ll keep going to the brick-and-mortar stores for my eyeglasses.

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