I’ve been a staunch contact wearer for more than a decade, so when it came time for me to update my glasses, I was in awe at all the options I could choose from without leaving my couch.

Once I learned about all the websites out there that offer affordable glasses in a multitude of styles, finding the right ones almost felt a little overwhelming. But I learned a few tips along the way that other glasses-wearing readers might find helpful.

My first suggestion is ordering an at-home try-on box (or two!) from Warby Parker. Many of their styles are available for you to try at home for free. You can pick up to five styles per box, have them sent to your home in a matter of days, try them on and then send them back when you’re done. And I should probably add, that you’ll likely want to snap some pictures or get some feedback from friends or co-workers, like I did.

When ordering my box, I picked out frames in five different colors and a variety of styles so I could really get a feel for what worked best for me. I learned that small, rectangular frames don’t really suit me, and some of the colors I picked out were less than stellar.

While I was still deciding which of the ones in my Warby Parker I liked best — or if I wanted to try another box — I found an ad on social media for Pair Eyewear. I’m still not sure if it was my recent searches for glasses or the abundance of Harry Potter pages I follow, but the ad could not have been more targeted to me.

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Pair Eyewear offers not just glasses but magnetic frame additions to put on top so that wearers can change up their look without having to buy separate pairs of glasses. The hook that really got me here is that they have a line of Harry Potter top frames. For sports fans, there are also NHL and MLB collections, and superhero fans might get a kick out of the Marvel line. There are even Sesame Street frames for kids.

Sparkles, plaids, stripes, polka dots, tie-dye and solid top frames are all available in so many colors that — again — it was hard to choose just a few. Even though I did like some of the choices I received in my Warby Parker box, the Harry Potter nerd in me was too strong and compelled me to order from Pair Eyewear.

Pair Eyewear offers glasses with magnetic frames to put over top to switch up styles. The offer lines with themes like Harry Potter, Marvel, NHL and MLB.
Screenshot by Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
Pair Eyewear offers glasses with magnetic frames to put over top to switch up styles. The offer lines with themes like Harry Potter, Marvel, NHL and MLB. Screenshot by Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

Because of the availability of the Harry Potter line, I only had a couple frame styles to choose from, and I’m disappointed to say the ones I ordered didn’t quite work out. They weren’t the right size and shape for my face, so I unfortunately had to return them and opt instead for one of the pairs I liked from my Warby Parker box, as I already knew they looked good on me. That being said, I do still recommend Pair Eyewear for those looking for fun, affordable glasses as long as they know which frames work for them. Base frames, including prescription lenses, are $60, while the top frames start at $25 for most styles, while the specialty ones — Harry Potter, Marvel, MLB, NHL, Sesame Street and sunglasses are $30.

And luckily Pair Eyewear has a 30-day, no questions asked return policy. I was able to quickly submit my return online, print out a return label and drop them off at the post office free of charge and get my money back almost immediately.

I’m now excitedly waiting on my Warby Parker glasses to arrive, and in the unlikely event they don’t work out for whatever reason, I’m comforted by their return policy, allowing me to get my money back if need be.

Warby Parker’s glasses start at $95, with lenses included, which is still a pretty good price in my book. But one thing I’ve learned through all this is that I need such a strong prescription that I’m pretty much guaranteed to have to pay extra for ultra-thin lenses, otherwise the lenses would be too thick.

Glasses company Warby Parker offers free at-home try-on boxes for customers to try a variety of frames and choose which work best.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
Glasses company Warby Parker offers free at-home try-on boxes for customers to try a variety of frames and choose which work best. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

Ordering prescription glasses from both Pair Eyewear and Warby Parker was extremely easy. I was able to provide my eye doctor’s information so they could obtain my prescription themselves. There are also options to upload a picture of your prescription, if you have it on hand. They will also ask you to measure your pupillary distance, which I recently learned is the distance in millimeters between the center of your pupils. For this, the websites will prompt you to hold a credit card up to your face and snap a picture. It feels a little silly but is easy enough to achieve through detailed prompts.

Some other affordable websites I came across through my research — and have heard good things about through other buyers — are Zenni, GlassesUSA and EyeBuy Direct. And for first-time visitors, many websites will offer pop-up coupon codes for a certain percentage off of your first purchase. And for those who want to be able to envision what the frames will look like, most websites offer some sort of virtual try-one method, whether it’s a headshot of an actual person trying the glasses on or the option to upload a picture of yourself and try the frames virtually.

So as COVID-19 continues on and many people waffle between wanting to leave the house or not — or for those who just like being able to do everything online — buying glasses has become simpler if one just knows where to look, pun intended.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.