A few things you should probably know if buying from EyeBuyDirect (review)

If what you really wanted was the review with the pics, no need to fear. It comes right after some EyeBuyDirect details!

Quick Notes:

  • Sub-$20 pricing – While a number of their frames/options get into higher price points, it’s possible to get a very basic pair of prescription glasses with lenses for under $10 plus shipping.
  • Website – The website design is quite good, easy to navigate, has a polished feel to it, and is well-done in general. The search section is very easy to use.
  • Help bubbles (“!”) – virtually every prescription/lens option has a well-written help bubble. EyeBuyDirect has clearly gone to lengths to ensure that if you don’t understand something, there’s an explanation ready and waiting for you.
  • Party Glasses offering – to me this seems a little gimmicky, but people must like them because they’ve continued to offer it as an exclusive (currently under $15 extra).
  • UV protection – not included on the cheapest lenses.

Impressions, Website, and Ordering:

The EyeBuyDirect website has been consistently user-friendly, and it’s easy to navigate and move through to purchase. It’s really quite new-user-friendly, and that’s reflected in the video they have demonstrating how to take your PD which has shockingly high production value.

They’ve been in business for a number of years (over a decade now if I’m recalling correctly), and I’d certainly classify them as one of the major retailers at this point in time.

One aspect that EyeBuyDirect has focused on heavily throughout the years is the up-sell. All the defaults tend towards higher pricing: high-priced frames listed first, the non-base lens option selected by default, etc. As I mentioned in the Quick Notes it’s possible to get a basic pair for under $10 (plus shipping). However, frame selection at that price range is fairly slim and you have to pay close attention as you choose the lenses if that’s what you’re aiming for. You won’t get UV protection there, so unless you’re getting an indoor/backup pair chances are you’ll be spending a good bit more.

Ordering itself is quite easy except that you need to register before you can see shipping options/prices. However, EyeBuyDirect does at least list your Geo-located shipping price in their help menu, giving an option if you’d like to get a better idea of the total cost before you start giving them personal information.

Value:

If you go with the cheapest frames and lenses, the cost is extremely hard to beat. As soon as you start adding lens upgrades though, prices quickly start to push up. Not unreasonably-so mind you, but the upgrades tend to be a little higher than with competitors.

 

Time for the Review…

This order took place in 2009.

Feb 2 – An order was placed for a set of glasses during the “2-4-1” sale that EyeBuyDirect.com was having, although I only ordered a single pair of glasses. Browsing through frames and sorting by price, I selected regular metal frames ($17.95) with basic free lenses, and added an AR ($6.95) and UV ($4.95) coating. After using a coupon code for reduced shipping, the total came to $33.85 shipped to Canada.

Feb 23 – The glasses arrived in the mail. I had actually expected them to take a little longer (since they were ordered during a sale), but to my surprise they made it in exactly 2 weeks which is what I generally expect from most items I order from the US. I was certainly pleased with the amount of time it took.

 

Customs

To my surprise, I was charged duty/tax on the glasses. Normally, prescription glasses are exempt from duty/tax. However, the customs form submitted listed the item as “Sunglasses” (even though they had no tint), with no mention of them being prescription. To add insult to injury, the value was listed as $77.50 – much more than the $33.85 I had paid. Therefore, duty/tax came to just under $20 including Canada Post’s $8 handling fee. While the Canada Border Services Agency will probably refund me my $20 once I fill out a few forms and send my actual invoice showing the actual amount paid and showing that they’re prescription glasses, this would have been a non-issue had EyeBuyDirect listed the actual price I paid and/or listed them as prescription glasses. Obviously, the customs issue applies to non-US orders only, and this may vary by each country’s customs regulations.

 

Packaging

Inside the larger shipping box was a smaller one, branded quite nicely. A clear/transparant case was fit snug inside, with the glasses wrapped in what appears to be a microfibre cloth. The case itself was actually pretty impressive. It’s magnetically closed, and has a foam strip to keep the glasses from moving around. Inside was a slip with a couple coupon-cards for discounts on future orders.

 

Pictures

(click on any of the thumbnails to open the image full-size in a new window)

Box in the mail from EyeBuyDirect
The contents of the EyeBuyDirect box

Basic packaging. you can see the customs info in the first image (although identifying information has been removed). The transparent case in the 2nd photo closes/latches magnetically and has a foam strip to keep the glasses secure.

Altogether the presentation was quite nice and professional.

 

First impressions

The nosepads looked like they might need adjusting, but they didn’t. The glasses fit perfectly. The lenses had a slight bit of fluff/debris on them (possibly from the cloth) which rinsed off easily with water. The AR coating has a greenish tint when light is reflected off of it.

EyeBuyDirect glasses on the included microfibre cloth
EyeBuyDirect right lens
EyeBuyDirect left lens
EyeBuyDirect glasses laying down

Very clear lenses – in fact the digital camera generally focused on an item on the other side of the lens – both frames and lenses appear to be of good quality.

 

Quality

The frames are straight and sturdy. The lenses fit perfectly in the frames, and looking around the edges, they seemed to be cut precisely – really just as good as any other pair I’ve owned, and I couldn’t find any flaws in this area.

Wearing the glasses, they seem to be optically correct throughout.

One minor concern is the AR/UV coating. I smudged up the glasses, and then cleaned them with a bit of dish soap and some hot water. Now, you’re not supposed to use hot water when cleaning glasses (warm is okay) because it’s known to cause coatings to crack. That said, I generally use hot water since it works so well and leaves 0 potential for minute scratches. Most AR coatings survive without a hitch. On this pair, hot water does indeed “crack” the coatings, and rather quickly at that. While this won’t be an issue for most people (who generally use either a microfiber cloth or a warm-water/dish-soap combo), the relative ease at which the cracking occurred indicates that either the AR or UV coating isn’t quite as durable as others. Again, won’t be an issue for most, but something worth mentioning.

EyeBuyDirect cracked glasses coating from hot water
EyeBuyDirect cracked glasses coating from hot water (another angle)

Do NOT use hot water to clean the lenses, or this will result (only visible in specific light conditions which were created for the photos – glasses are still completely useable unless the light catches it the right way which causes a blur). Don’t use hot water, and this won’t happen.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall I was quite pleased with the glasses themselves. I received them in a very reasonable timeframe, and they seem to be a good-quality pair overall. The packaging was quite good and I have no concerns about any potential for damage during shipping. The customs issue and coatings issue were the only things that I found to be negative.

Would I buy from EyeBuyDirect again?

Yes.

 

Would I recommend EyeBuyDirect to others?

Probably. I’d certainly recommend them to US customers since they won’t have duty/tax issues. I’d recommend them to international customers as well, providing they were aware of the possible duty/tax they may end up paying. Either way, I’d let them know that they’d be receiving a good, solid pair of glasses, providing they’re kept away from hot water.

 

Recommendation for 2019

EyeBuyDirect is a reasonable option whether you’re new to buying glasses online or have veteran experience. Pricing at the low-end “wows” me a bit, but in the mid/high-range offerings the price is simply “reasonable”.

If a clean and easy-to-use site is on your priority list, EyeBuyDirect ( https://www.eyebuydirect.com/ ) is one of the retailers you’ll probably want on your shortlist.

 

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