I’ve worn eyeglasses since I was two years old, and while I was growing up, my eyeglasses were a pretty significant expense. Although my ophthalmologist visits were covered by insurance, my glasses themselves were not, so quite often my parents would ask the doctor whether I could “stretch” using the same glasses for another year, and often he would give a little nod to them.
This meant two things. First, the actual process of selecting eyeglasses was an exercise in finding a good deal, and second, we used lots of little tricks to keep them repaired and in good, usable shape. Here are some of the tricks I learned from this experience, most of which I still use today to get cheap glasses and keep them over the long term.
The actual purchase process for glasses, for most people, involves visiting an eyeglass store, getting a “free” test from an optometrist, and then buying their expensive glasses. Not me.
First, I get a full eye exam from an ophthalmologist, paid for by my insurance. An ophthalmologist is significantly better trained than an optometrist and regular visits to one are often covered by medical insurance (obviously, check your own policy).
Then I go to my local LensCrafters to try on frames if I need new ones. I don’t buy them there, just try them on. I usually say I’m shopping around. If I find one I really like, I write down all the information on it that I can find and then leave the store.
After that, I do some comparison shopping, usually comparing Sam’s Club and online prices. I can often save 75% off of the prices at LensCrafters and other eyeglass stores by doing this. If you can specify the frames that you want and have your prescription for lenses, it’s just as easy as getting them at an eyeglass shop.
If I just need to replace the lenses, I tend to go through the same comparison shopping process. Then, I go to a local eyeglass store and they will often size the lenses for me for a small fee while I wait. Not all stores will do this, but many will.
Maintaining glasses isn’t too hard, either. Just remember that you don’t need to replace the frames and lenses every year (I know people who do this almost automatically) and that with a bit of effort, frames can last for many years and lenses can last for several years, too, if you don’t face a prescription change. Here are some tips for maintenance.
Wash them regularly I wash mine every other day or so in warm, soapy water, then dry them with a soft cloth. This keeps the lenses quite clean and thus reduces the chances for scratching. Don’t use anything scratchy to dry the lenses – avoid paper towel drying like the plague.
If they get scratched… Try polishing the scratch with some eyeglass polish. You can usually find a can of this for $8 to $10 at the eyeglass store – ask for help before buying because some brands don’t work well on glasses with various coatings on the lens. This is far, far cheaper than replacing your lens, because a can of polish should be able to last for years.
You can try baby oil as well – this often removes small scratches on lenses. Just buff it off with a very soft cloth. I have heard of other solutions, but they all work only on specific lens types.
If the frame gets broken… Superglue is often your best friend for longer pieces that are broken in the middle.
If a screw gets loose… Screw it back into place, then apply a drop of nail polish to the top of the screw. That’ll hold it right where it should be.
These tips handle almost everything I’ve faced with my eyeglasses through my life, and it’s saved me from buying new frames or new lenses several times.