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Online Eyeglass Retailer Information and Reviews

Reader Submitted Review

Author: eki

Zenni Optical

I placed 4 separate orders with Zenni. After reading reviews about different sites (all of the ones mentioned on this site), and spending many hours looking at glasses and comparing prices/products on the different discount merchants, I decided to purchase from Zenni. My concern was not only the price (but that was important since I was ordering online something that could potentially not work for me), but also the styles offered and the quality of lenses/frames. Although other merchants had better websites (with virtual try-on, personalized account, fancy search options), Zenni had the best selection of frames and the best overall prices. My guess was that frame quality-wise, all of the discount merchants are comparable. Some merchants had designer glasses, but the prices on those were higher, and all I really wanted was to have a back-up pair of glasses.

Let me start by saying that I initially purchased glasses from my optometrist's office, which, after insurance discounts and payments, cost me $410 out-of-pocket. This was in March 2009, and it took 2 remakes to get them right. These are designer glasses, plastic, with Crizal anti-reflective coating and 1.67 high index aspheric lenses. I also have a pair of glasses I purchased from LensCrafters in July 2005, which are pure titanium frame, with regular polycarbonate 1.56 index lenses and with no antireflective coating, and cost me, after discounts, about $260. Another pair I will be mentioning are my Cosco glasses that I got in November 2007 for $130. They are a plastic frame, with anti-reflective coating, and 1.56 polycarbonate aspheric lenses. I will be comparing the Zenni glasses with all three of these pairs as well to give a good idea of what the differences are and if it's worth it to buy more expensive.

My prescription is: OD -3.75, -0.25, 132; OS -5.25

First order with Zenni: I placed my order for 1 pair of glasses on Friday 3/6/09 and received immediate e-mail confirmation (the date was off on the email but they fixed this in subsequent orders). My card was charged on 3/9/09 for $25.85. After I realized that my prescription was actually not right (the expensive designer glasses that had to be remade), I called Zenni to cancel my order on Monday 3/9/09. I was on hold for less than 5 min before I got to speak to a live representative. The lady said she would contact the lab and make sure they could cancel it (if they didn't start processing the order). She put me on hold and was back within a couple of minutes letting me know that my order was cancelled and that the lab would refund my money within a few days. She was polite and helpful. The original amount was refunded to my card on 3/13/09 ($25.85).

Second order with Zenni: I placed my second order with Zenni on Saturday 3/14/09, one week later, after my prescription was fixed. I received immediate e-mail confirmation. My card was charged on 3/16/09 for $109.60 for 4 pairs of glasses. I did not receive a shipping or tracking e-mail but my glasses arrived on Saturday 3/30/09, exactly 2 weeks later, via Express mail – signature required from Hong Kong. Since I was not home when they arrived and the post courier did not leave them, I picked them up from the post office on Monday.

This is what I ordered:

First impressions: The package was in a large green envelope (see picture). Inside was a smaller white bubble wrap envelope. And inside it were 4 blue plastic cases with the glasses. In each case, the glasses were wrapped in a Zenni cleaning cloth. The case itself is not impressive but it seemed secure for the glasses; the bottom of the case has a soft lining so as not to scratch the lenses.

AR - order 2 burgundy pair - notice the greenish-purplish hue and how the smaller lamp reflection is white   AR - order 2 clear rimless pair - notice that the reflection is consistent throughout the lens   AR - order 2 purple pair - notice AR reflection is greenish and the smaller lamp reflection is white. This pair has the worst AR visually.   Zenni burgundy plastic. $15.95   Zenni sunglasses - aluminum. $23.95   Zenni sunglasses - beautifully made   Zenni rimless memory plastic frame. $25.95   Zenni rimless   Zenni rimless   Zenni stainless steel black and purple. $19   Order 2 packaging   Order 2 packaging   Order 2 packaging and glasses   Order 2 glasses - the cases are identical   Order 2 glasses in cases wrapped in Zenni cleaning cloths   Order 2 glasses

The glasses were better than I expected. The frame quality is very good (I will comment on each pair), and the prescription is right on. I selected the regular 1.57 index lenses that come with the frames and added the anti-reflective coating on 3 pairs and 80% gray tint on 1 pair. The anti-reflective coating has a greenish-purplish hue. I noticed that the coating seems different on the three pairs of glasses. On one of them (the clear pair), when under a room overhead light, both the smaller and the larger reflections of the lamp are greenish-purplish. On the other two pairs (purple and burgundy), the small reflection is white and the large reflection is greenish-purplish. The metal pair (purple) reflects everywhere when I wear it while driving (especially on the red lights from the cars in front of me). The plastic burgundy pair does not, however. The clear pair does not reflect either. The reflections in any of them do not bother me. (The purple pair of glasses reflecting lights from the cars while I am driving is annoying; however, it does not impair my ability to see.)

Note: My LensCrafters pair of glasses that does not have anti-reflective coating reflects in white (there is no greenish-purplish hue). The anti-reflective coating on my Cosco pair of glasses has the same purplish-greenish hue as the Zenni glasses. My expensive optometrist pair shows a yellowish hue. This pair seems more subdued too than any of the others. The coating is visibly superior and any reflections are minor as compared to the Zenni discount glasses or the Cosco and LensCrafters glasses.

I have not tested the quality of the anti-reflective coating and had had the glasses for only a short time to be able to tell how they hold up. The LensCrafters and the Cosco pairs however have been "peeling/crackling" at the edges.

As far as frames from Zenni, they are all solid and well crafted. They were a bit tight but when I made adjustments to them, they fit perfectly. I was able to do this with small pliers (I coated them with a piece of fabric not to scratch the frames) on the metal pairs. The plastic pairs, I ran some hot water over the part I wanted to adjust for about 20 seconds (making sure the water does not go on the lenses – I read about the cracking in reviews) and made adjustments very easily. The aluminum pair ($23.95) is very light and very solid (I did not have to adjust them at all). They look like they will last a long time. The plastic burgundy pair ($15.95) is solid as well but a lot thinner than my expensive optometrist pair. They feel like the reading glasses you would buy over the counter. They are, however, well made (metal frame under the plastic on the temples), light, comfortable and fashionable. The stainless steel purple pair ($19) is my favorite of the clear lens glasses (even with the worst anti-reflective coat). They are solid, very comfortable, and fashionable. The rimless pair, memory plastic, ($25.95) is my least favorite. They are put together well as far as how the lenses are attached but they seem really flimsy. Is it the hingeless or just my taste, I am not sure, but what stands out is that the little plastic behind-the-ear covers are loose and slide on the metal part. It took me the longest to get them adjusted so that I can see well through them. They are comfortable to wear when I watch TV lying down and I don't have to worry about breaking my other pairs. They serve a purpose so I am happy.

I can switch between pairs with no problems at all which tells me that optically they are right on. And, they were made right the first time – no remakes, which to me is very impressive since my optometrist said I was "hypersensitive." The lenses were thicker than I expected but they are not too bad. Compared to the expensive 1.67 index lenses, they are not too much thicker (for my prescription 1-2 millimeters). The lenses are set very well in the frames so the thickness is not even noticeable. When looking through them, both the expensive glasses and the Zenni glasses have a bit of distortion on the sides, which is normal. I have not noticed any major difference in this area; except that the expensive pair seems slightly more clear. They are all equally comfortable to look through.

(The problem with my designer pair was that the 1.67 lenses are aspheric. My eyes do not want to adjust to aspheric lenses. As soon as they adjusted the glasses to "mold" around my eyes, they were 100% better. The first remake was for the actual prescription; the optometrist tried to take the astigmatism out on one eye since it is so slight and the exam indicated no difference in vision. When I put them on, however, they were too fuzzy. The second remake was for the strength in the other eye. With the first pair, -5.0 was fine but with the second pair it did not match up with the other eye when the astigmatism was put back in. When the glasses were remade to -5.25 and then "molded," they are now perfect. The service I received was good but I think some of this could have been avoided since I warned the new optometrist of my history with slightly changing prescriptions and aspheric lenses (the Cosco glasses had to be redone and molded as well). I do really love these new optometrist glasses though.

The sunglasses, aluminum blue pair, are very light and comfortable. They are semi-rimless and the tint envelops the whole lens. They are not polarized but to me this did not matter. They are very comfortable to wear when I am outside or driving, not only the frame but the lenses as well. The tinting is perfect and effective. When I put my polarized over-the-glasses sunglasses over them, I can be in the sun and it seems like a cloudy day, no squinting; driving like this is wonderful on a very bright sunny day! This is my favorite pair as far as quality of frame – the aluminum is so light, solid, and comfortable; the color is beautiful and they look like designer glasses.

I have already gotten compliments on all of the glasses. No one except for me seems to notice that some were about $20-$30 and some $400.

Third order with Zenni: I ordered an additional pair of glasses on Tuesday 3/17/09, 4 days after my first order. I received a confirmation email immediately. My card was charged on 3/18/09 for $28.90. This time, I received an e-mail notifying me that the glasses were shipped, with the tracking information, on Wednesday 4/1/09. The glasses arrived on Saturday 4/4/09, 18 days after my order. The envelope was white and no signature was required this time; the post courier left the package in my mailbox.

This is what I ordered:

Zenni stainless steel with plastic temples black. $19   AR - order 3 black - consistent AR coloring - this pair has the best AR of all the Zenni glasses I ordered   Order 3 packaging   Order 3 glasses

First impressions: The glasses were in a white hard shell case inside a bubble wrap envelope. They were wrapped in the Zenni cleaning cloth, just like the other pairs. These are stainless steel, black, and the first thing I noticed is that the anti-reflective coating was more prominent than in the other 3 pairs (still greenish-purple hue). I did not notice any reflections while driving like I do with the purple pair. The anti-reflective coating is still not as good as the one on the designer pair though, but it seems to be identical to the Cosco pair.

The glasses are well put together, prescription seems right and comfortable. I did notice that on one small place there seems to be a slight "chip" in the lens, right at the edge by the nosepiece. This is barely noticeable since it is on the edge – it might have happened when assembling the glasses. The other thing I noticed is that the black paint on the front of the frame was slightly scratched in one place. I took a permanent marker and filled this in. This was barely noticeable to begin with but I was looking at the glasses very closely. If I tried to take a picture of this, it would not come out since it cannot be seen without really looking for it.

The frame is sturdy and solid. These glasses have plastic temples which were easy to adjust under hot water (again, being careful not to get the water on the lenses). They were a bit tight but I was able to adjust them easily.

Optically, they seem right as well as the other pairs I got; I can switch back and forth without issues (slight momentary adjustment – the frames are different shapes after all and sit differently on my face). Overall, I was pleased with this pair as well.

Fourth order with Zenni: On Sunday 4/5/09, I placed another order for 3 more pairs of glasses. I received an email confirmation immediately. My card was charged on 4/6/09. The glasses arrived on Friday 4/17/09 (11 days later) directly from Jintan City, China via DHL. It was a large white envelope. Inside was a smaller bubble wrap envelope, just like with previous orders.

This is what I ordered:

Zenni plastic brown. $15.95   Zenni plastic black/clear. $19   Zenni plastic burgundy sunglasses with spring hinge. $8   Order 4 packaging   Order 4 cases - notice the different colors and styles   Order 4 glasses in cases wrapped in cleaning cloths   Order 4 glasses   AR - order 4 brown pair - same as order 2 burgundy   AR - order 4 black/clear

First impressions: The cases this time were different. One was a clear case like with the previous order and the other two were slightly larger, one pink and one yellow. Still plastic and similar quality as the others. The glasses were packed exactly the same as before, each wrapped in a cleaning cloth (with no Zenni insignia this time) and securely placed in the cases. The packaging was sturdy and secure.

The anti-reflective coating on these is also greenish-purplish and very similar to the one on the burgundy pair from the first order (see pictures for comparisons). They reflect the same as that pair. The tinting on the sunglasses is consistent with the previous sunglasses – well done.

All three frames that I ordered this time are plastic and all three are well made and sturdy. The brown pair is identical to the burgundy pair from the first order. As well, they are all optically perfect and I can switch between any of them without any trouble. This time, though, the frames were not tight initially. Minimal adjustment was needed behind the ear which I easily did by running the part under hot water for 20 seconds and then bent it in place. There was no scratches or imperfections on either the lenses or the frames and the lenses are set in the frames well. The only thing that I noticed that is different between the 3 pairs is that the metal reinforcement inside the temple pieces runs all the way in the brown and black pairs and only about 1 inch past the hinge in the burgundy ($8) pair.

I am still very satisfied with this order as well as the other two. The frames and lenses are of great quality and very fashionable. The only thing that could be improved is the anti-reflective coat.



What I like about Zenni: Low price, wide variety of frames, quality of frames and lenses, ease of ordering, detailed descriptions on site (individual glasses and other info), large and clear pictures of frame choices

What I dislike about Zenni: Anti-reflective coating is not great and inconsistent on different pairs, would like to be able to have an account on site

Would I order again: I did :) And most likely I will again in the future

Would I recommend to others: Yes, and I did to my coworkers, friends, and strangers too. The price is too good not to try it at least once and then decide if it's worth it to order again.

The truth is, if I knew about Zenni (or any of the discount online retailers) before I ordered my expensive glasses, I would have never bought the expensive glasses. Online is the way to go for those who are comfortable making frame adjustments themselves and like to spend the extra money they will save on things other than glasses :) The kicker is, the 8 pairs of glasses I got from Zenni cost less than half than the one optometrist pair ($196 for 8 vs. $410 for 1)! You do the math.

Pictures: I took pictures of all my glasses to show visual comparisons. There are packaging pictures for all three orders. One set of pictures is specifically for the AR coating – I tried to get the reflections with the camera to show what I was talking about in the review. Another set is to compare the quality of the glasses. Take, for instance, the burgundy Zenni pair and the optometrist designer brown pair – they look almost the same (except for the design). What the picture cannot show is that the designer pair is thicker and sturdier than the Zenni pair. When I move the Zenni burgundy pair around to clean it, adjust it, put it on, there is a slight squeaky sound. When I move the designer pair around, there is no sound. With the metal glasses (both aluminum blue and the stainless steel purple) there is no sound either – they are quite sturdy and solid.

Optometrist, Lenscrafters, Costco pairs (for comparison) (click for large version with notes at bottom):

AR (optometrist pair) - notice the yellowish hue   AR (Lenscrafters pair) - no anti-reflective coating   AR (Costco pair) - notice the greenish hue throughout   AR (Costco pair) - closer view   Glasses - Lenscrafters 2005 pair - notice how the lenses are "peeling" at the edges. There is no AR coating on this pair. $260   Glasses - Costco 2007 pair. These are "peeling" too at the edges. $130   Glasses - Optometrist pair 2009, plastic. $410

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(Zenni review by Nodrac)