Nine innovative online prescription glasses brands that should be on your radar

Banu Ibrahim and Kami Phillips, CNN Underscored
Updated Tue April 30, 2019

Story highlights

  • Shopping at direct-to-consumer eyewear brands means you can save serious money
  • Other benefits include try-on options and eco-friendly materials

Gone are the days when you had to shell out hundreds of dollars at the optometrist's office if you needed a new pair of prescription glasses. Thanks to a number of companies -- including Warby Parker, which helped popularize the direct-to-consumer eyewear movement -- you can shop prescription specs and sunnies from the comfort of your home.

Better yet, because you're shopping from direct-to-consumer sites, you can avoid the middleman markup, and save yourself some cash.

Take these nine companies, for example. Each of them is an innovator in its own right, whether by offering competitive pricing, allowing you to try on multiple specs at home, or creating designs from sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

Ahead, learn more and shop these direct-to-consumer businesses that are changing the eyewear game for good.

Warby Parker

By now, when you think of affordable, chic eyewear, you probably think of Warby Parker. This direct-to-consumer glasses brand, which debuted back in 2010, was created with one clear mission in mind: to make eyewear less expensive. And the company has done just that, with many pairs starting at just $95. Simply choose up to five frames online to test out at home and get them delivered to your door for free. You'll then have five days to pick a pair (or two) you like, sending back whatever you don't. Warby Parker also offers a quick online quiz that can help you determine the best frame shapes to test out with your face, if you're a bit overwhelmed with all the choices. All options come with anti-scratch and anti-glare coatings at no additional cost. Better yet, when you do decide to buy a pair of prescription glasses or sunglasses, Warby Parker will donate a pair to someone in need. Now that's paying it forward.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Jane ($95; warbyparker.com) for women and Durand ($95; warbyparker.com) for men.

Zenni

By far one of the most affordable brands on this list is Zenni. The company, which prides itself on its ultracompetitive pricing, features hundreds of pairs for men, women and children, for a steal. Some of them even start as low as $7, which is a great excuse for you to stock up on multiple pairs of glasses and sunglasses. While you won't be able to try these specs on at home, Zenni does offer the Zenni Frame Fit, where you can upload a photo of yourself to the site and try on different pairs virtually to find what looks best.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Round Glasses ($9.95; zenni.com) for women and the Class Black Rectangular Eyeglasses ($19; zenni.com) for men.

Proof Eyewear

Looking for an eyewear company that has an eco-friendly bent? Meet Proof Eyewear, a company that focuses on using sustainable materials, such as FSC-certified wood, recycled metal, and repurposed skateboard decks, to craft its designs. It even has an ECO collection (standing for Environmentally Conscious Optics) that features renewable and biodegradable frames. And like Warby Parker, Proof donates a portion of every shopper's purchase to a worthy organization, ranging from disaster relief to nature conservancies. But the real highlight for us with Proof is its sleek designs, which are both trendy and subtle enough for everyday use. And designs for both sunglasses and optical lenses start as low as $90.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Ontario Wood ($114; iwantproof.com) and the Delta Eco RX ($126; iwantproof.com).

Coastal

Another socially conscious company on our list is Coastal, the eyeglasses and contacts site that partners with Essilor Vision Foundation to give away a pair of glasses with every purchase of one. While Coastal isn't the cheapest company on the list, it's not the most expensive, either, and many of the options start as low as $19. Free shipping and returns are standard. Better yet, Coastal regularly has discounts that you can cash in on. Currently, the site is offering a buy one, get one free promotion on the site, when you use the code BOGO at checkout. It's the perfect excuse to get a few pairs of optical lenses and sunnies for this season.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Mainstay ($35; coastal.com) and the Parker-54 ($100; coastal.com).

Ambr

Computers, TV screens and mobile devices strain our eyes, so if you spend extended amounts of time working on a computer, binging series on Netflix or scrolling through social media on your phone, this retailer is for you. Ambr makes eyewear that helps to block harmful blue light from screens that can cause eye health issues. It offers prescription and nonprescription blue light glasses, so even if you have 20/20 vision or wear contacts, you can still protect your eyes. Ambr's frames are stylish and functional, blocking over 55% of blue light, which is enough to relieve the symptoms of digital eye strain. Choose from four lens technologies, including Screen, which offers lenses are just like regular ones, except they filter the harmful blue light being emitted by screens; Sleep, the super powerful lenses made to filter out almost all blue light, which aids melatonin production and provides better quality of sleep; Transition, the light-responsive lenses in a range of bold shades; and Sun, the polarized sunglasses that block both blue light and UV light. All styles are available in prescription and nonprescription lenses and start at $63 for adults and $53 for kids.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Halley All-Day for men ($171; ambreyewear.com) and the Juno for women ($63; ambreyewear.com)

Oliver Peoples

If you're in the market for a pair of luxe sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses, you'll definitely want to check out Oliver Peoples. The heritage brand was founded in California in 1987 and its designs are inspired by elements of fashion, film, art and music. (It just released Cary Grant sunglasses and optical frames in collaboration with the actor's estate.) Each of its frames is created by hand in West Hollywood, and the company has teamed up with designer brands such as The Row, Byredo, Burlati and Alain Mikli. The ultrastylish frames are a bit of an investment, with prices ranging from $335 to $635, but the craftsmanship and quality are worth every penny.

Some of our favorites to shop right now are the Ellerby ($540; oliverpeoples.com) and the Row Parquet ($425; oliverpeoples.com).

Eyebobs

Not only does Eyebobs offer stylish and eclectic frames for men and women, starting at just $89, but it's a philanthropic company that believes in giving back and raising awareness for charities such as Stand Up To Cancer and Scholarship America, among others. Choose from prescription, readers, all-day readers, polarized sunglasses, reader sunglasses and blue light lenses. Not sure which style to choose? Eyebobs offer a face shape guide to help you find your most flattering frames along with a reader strength test and PD (pupillary distance) measuring guide, all to make online ordering easy.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Case Closed RX ($199; eyebobs.com) and the Total Wit Reader Sunglasses ($89; eyebobs.com).

Jins

Jins is changing the eyewear game with its affordable pricing and unique designs. Starting at just $60 for blue light-blocking glasses, Jins offers an array of lens styles including blue light lenses for day and night, tinted, polarized, photochromic and progressive. Jins prides itself not only on its style, but on its lens technologies boasting features like thin lenses, anti-glare, UV cut and less distortion. Plus, through its Cases for Causes initiative, you can help give back to local charities, because 100% of the proceeds from each glasses case is donated to nonprofits such as The Wildlife Conservation Network, Jumpstart and Make a Film Foundation.

Some of our favorites to shop right now are the LRF-18S-U155 ($100; jins.com) and the Kingston Jins Screens ($120; jins.com).

Eyebuydirect

Rounding out our list is Eyebuydirect, a company that, true to its name, creates its glasses completely in house. That means that when you purchase a pair, you're going direct to the company, which ultimately will save you money because there's no middleman markup. The site offers a number of frames that vary in size, shape, rim, material and color for as low as $6. Right now it's also offering a 30%-off sale, using the code MUSIC at checkout.

Eyebuydirect offers more lens options than some other sites. Shoppers can find bifocal, progressive and transition lenses on the site. It also offers Digital Screen Protection Glasses, which can block out blue-violet light emitted from digital screens.

Some of our favorites to shop right now include the Muse Eyezen Glasses ($44.95; eyebuydirect.com) and Good Vibrations Sunglasses ($39; eyebuydirect.com) for men.