The best glasses online for 2021: Where to find prescription eyeglasses

Buying a new pair of glasses used to be a long, complicated and expensive process. But those days are long gone, thanks to a growing number of optical shops that have been popping up online. Now, it's possible to find every conceivable glasses frame and lens online -- and there are options for every budget.

The sheer number of online optical retailers has caused the price of glasses to drop -- in some cases, you can save hundreds of dollars on prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses and sunglasses.

Then there's the time savings. Buying prescription glasses online from a manufacturer like Warby Parker or one of its many rivals is not only cheaper, but also a lot less time consuming than going somewhere in person for new glasses. It only takes a few minutes to input your prescription and measure your pupillary distance and you're well on your way to ordering glasses online.

Before you start shopping, you'll want to visit an optometrist to get your prescription updated and your eyes checked, which you should be doing on a regular basis anyway to ensure that your eyes are healthy and your prescription still works. Glasses that aren't strong enough can lead to headaches and other ailments -- not to mention the fact that you can't see!  Once you have a prescription, online retailers offer all the same things as an in-store experience.

Whether you're looking to buy a progressive lens, multifocal lenses, a designer frame, blue light filtering or something that will work with your vision insurance, online retailers deliver. To help you narrow down your options and find the best prescription glasses online, I've pulled together the nine best online vendors I've found for buying prescription glasses. If I haven't personally used a service on this list, someone else on CNET's staff has.

We'll update this list as we get the opportunity to try more. But before we dive in, note the following prerequisites, caveats and tips:

  • Most of the sites highlighted here offer some sort of discount for first-time customers. That means the first time you buy glasses can be when you get the best deal, so it can pay to try several online retailers before buying glasses online.
  • You'll need to know your prescription and pupillary distance from your optometrist before you use an online glasses retailer -- so make sure you get a hard copy the next time you get your vision checked.

    Once you have that, most of these sites will let you upload a picture of the prescription from your phone the first time you buy something. 

  • See how to buy glasses online and save hundreds of dollars for more tips.

Read more: Use your phone to check your vision