A new pair of prescription specs can run you hundreds of dollars. So how can you buy a good pair of glasses without leaving yourself seeing double over the cost?
One answer is to shop at Costco. The store topped our list of eyeglass retailers for overall satisfaction in Consumer Reports' 2012 survey of nearly 19,500 readers. Another option is to buy from eyeglass websites. Doing that, we were able to save as much as 40 percent, compared to buying at a walk-in optical chain store such as LensCrafters. The downside, of course, is that you have to wait for your glasses to be mailed to you, and it can be a hassle returning them if there's a problem. But if you don't mind paying more, or most of your purchase is covered by insurance, go for independent local optical shops or a private doctor's office, which got high scores for satisfaction from our readers and top marks for merchandise quality and customer service. If you want or need your glasses in an hour or so, be prepared to pay for the privilege. LensCrafters was, by far, the fastest place to get new specs – almost half our readers who shopped there had their glasses the same or next day. But it also was among the most expensive.
The readers who responded to our survey spent a median of $244 out-of-pocket on their last pair of prescription specs. They gave Costco Optical the highest score for overall satisfaction among chains, with other discount retailers, including Sam's Club and Walmart, getting decent scores, too. Frame selection was the only category in which these particular discounters didn't get high marks. So if these discount stores don't have that frame you want, consider shopping online.