Which is the Best Place to Get Reading Glasses? Zenni or the 99¢ Store?

Everybody knows you can get reading glasses at the dollar store for a dollar.


dollar bill
Heck, if you’re a real bargain shopper you might even want to save a penny.


In that case, you can get them at the 99₵ store for 99₵.


dollar store

Yes, there are exactly 99 pennies in this picture. We know because we counted. How fitting that the 99₵ store is where the couple known as Speidi (remember them?) appears to have ended up.


Just Jared
So if you can get reading glasses for a buck or for a penny less, why should you get them from Zenni, where they would cost at least $6.95?

confused lady

Because the $6.95 reading glasses you can get from Zenni are more than seven times better than the reading glasses you can get from the dollar or 99₵ store.


A lot more.
Buying reading glasses at the dollar or 99₵ store might be penny wise.


Penny Wise

But it’s pound foolish.


Here’s why.
The reading glasses you get at the dollar or 99₵ store don’t have:
Your exact prescription.


Your exact pupillary distance (PD).

Download this PD ruler if the eye doctor or optician won’t give it to you, and you can measure it yourself.
Your exact frame size.



Anti-reflective (AR) coating.


OK, if you get AR coating, they’re going to cost a little more, but it’ll be worth it. AR coating greatly reduces glare from external light sources as well as reducing eyestrain from long sessions on a computer.
See The Zenni Blog to read the AR coating blog post (“Don’t Fear Mothra – Her Eyes Inspired Your Glasses’ Anti-Reflective Coating”) for a fuller discussion of the benefits of AR coating.
A 10% pink tint on the lenses will help reduce eyestrain, too.


Now let’s break down all these categories – prescription, PD, frame size, AR coating, and tint – and examine how getting a pair of reading glasses made to order at Zenni is better in all of these respects than buying a pair at the drug, dollar, or 99₵ store.



Get outta here, you two! Your 15 minutes of fame were up 20 minutes ago.

You can’t enter your exact prescription in the reading glasses you buy off the shelf. They will have the same magnification in each lens. But most people have different prescriptions for each eye. Again:



See how the OD (right eye) has +3.00 and the OS (left eye) has +2.75? You won’t be able to customize off-the-shelf glasses accordingly, unless you buy a +3.00 pair and a +2.75 pair, and switch the lenses yourself, assuming that you can get the lens out of one frame and into the other, and make it stay there without breaking a lens or the frame.


Broken Glasses


At Zenni, you can enter your exact magnification for each eye.

In addition, your prescription may call for an astigmatism correction (that’s when the prescription has Cylinder and Axis numbers).


You won’t be able to get this on a pair of drug, dollar, or 99₵ store readers, because those eyeglasses don’t have astigmatism corrections. Consequently, everything you see will be blurry, either a little or a lot, depending on your astigmatism.


At Zenni, you can enter your exact Cylinder and Axis numbers to correct your astigmatism.
Your pupillary distance (PD) is crucial when ordering prescription eyewear, including reading magnification eyeglasses.



That’s pupillary distance, not puppy-lary distance!

The PD is the measurement from the center of one pupil to the other. The PD determines where the optical center should be placed on each lens. The reading-vision optical center should be right in front of your pupils when you read.


But your PD won’t be accommodated by a pair of off-the-shelf reading glasses. You won’t even know what the PD is, because there’s no indication of the PD on reading glasses you get at the drug, dollar, or 99₵ store.
The reading glasses you get off the shelf will have an average PD on the lenses, based on the size of the frame.

Reading Glasses

If you’re looking through a pair of reading glasses that has a wider or narrower PD than yours, it will hamper your ability to see well with the glasses. You may get headaches and eyestrain, too.


At Zenni, you select a frame that accommodates your PD. When we make the glasses, we use your PD to determine the placement of the optical center on each lens, giving you the clearest, crispest vision.
Frame size:
The comedian Alan King had a saying about the difference between what the English call “bespoke” (custom-made) suits and those that are purchased off the rack.


King would say, “If it’s off the neck, it’s off the rack.”
The same principle applies with eyeglass frames. You take your chances with frames you pull off the rack at the drug, dollar, or 99₵ store. You may not find one in a style you like, or one that fits you well.


At Zenni, you can select a frame in the size – not to mention style – that suits you.
AR (anti-reflective) coating:
Store-bought reading glasses don’t have AR coating. Glasses at Zenni do. It’s a great extra to order for reading or computer glasses, because it reduces glare. Again, everything you need to know about AR coating is right here.

Don’t Fear Mothra – Her Eyes Inspired Your Glasses’ Anti-Reflective Coating

You’re not going to find reading glasses at the drug, dollar, or 99₵ store that have a 10% pink tint on the lenses. If you’re going to spend a lot of time reading on a computer screen, this tint percentage and color would be a good feature to have, since it’s restful and helps reduce eyestrain. It’s just $4.95 at Zenni.
This completes our examination of the relative merits of store-bought reading glasses and Zenni-bought reading glasses.
Let’s review. Store-bought reading glasses don’t have your exact prescription, PD, frame size, AR coating, and 10% pink tint.
Zenni glasses do. Not much of a contest, is it? It’s hard to build suspense when the results are so lopsided, but … the envelope, please:


You, with a pair of customized Zenni reading glasses that include your prescription, PD, frame size, AR coating, and 10% pink tint. Best of all, these two won’t be in line ahead of you.

Tuesday, March, 25 2014 by

“Frame Friday” Roundup: Spring Equinox

Yesterday, Thursday March 20, was the Spring Equinox. If you weren’t already dusting off your coolest specs and considering a new pair of glasses, now is clearly the time. From frozen to thaw to a perfectly decent day, the Equinox gave most of the East a reprieve from this brutal winter.

If you were out watching everyone enjoy the warmth, you probably saw a lot of people sporting bright, shiny glasses, glowing with the desire for spring to start in earnest.

How does the not-so-subtle beginning of spring draw people outside and lead them to don brighter colors and sometimes even a lighter step?

It’s difficult to articulate explicitly, but you know the feeling well. That mix of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm about all the possibilities now that going outside is fun again can’t be ignored.

It’s kinda like the feeling you get when you try on a new pair of shoes or glasses and they fit perfectly, matching not just the size and shape of your face (or feet), but also matching you.

The Equinox marks the moment twice a year when the Sun is directly over the Equator, and thus when the Earth’s tilt begins its transition to the coming season’s position. In the case of spring, the Earth’s axis is tilting so that the Sun will be over the Northern Hemisphere, bringing on warmer seasons.

Ancient peoples celebrated the equinoxes and solstices (there are two of each every year), often using stone “calendars” that had Indiana Jones type effects for that one day a year when the Sun is in the right position.

We might not have the benefit of unique stone temples designed to harness the equinox Sun perfectly to point out the correct door to enter the forbidden temple and find the treasure. But that doesn’t mean city streets don’t change magically when the Sun starts to come out.

Don’t believe me? I think there’s a show tune that explains it pretty convincingly. Why wait to see if the Sun’ll come out… tomorrow. With an exciting new pair of Zenni glasses and the Spring Equinox behind us, today is probably the perfect day to get outside and enjoy that burst of energy.

Friday, March, 21 2014 by

Don’t Fear Mothra – Her Eyes Inspired Your Glasses’ Anti-Reflective Coating

If you like the way the anti-reflective (AR) coating on your eyeglasses reduces glare, you can thank Mothra – or a real-life moth – for that.

Godzilla vs. Mothra | Zenni Optical

That’s because moths’ eyes are covered with a special film that eliminates reflections. This is necessary because of their well-known attraction to flames.

RuPaul | Zenni Optical

No, not that kind of flame! This kind:

A moth to a flame | Zenni Optical

If moths’ eyes reflected light, it would alert predators to their presence. But moths’ eyes are coated with a super-thin film structured in a hexagonal pattern of bumps that are so tiny they are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. These bumps reduce reflections from flames or other light sources by matching the wavelength of visible light, which blocks the light’s reflections.

Moth eye does not reflect light | Zenni Optical

AR coatings on eyeglasses take their cue from the eyes of moths. They work in a similar way, using a super-thin layer of metal oxide to reduce reflection by matching a reflected wave of light with an equal and opposite “incident wave” (roughly oversimplified, an interfering wave), which causes the two waves to cancel each other out.

Reflective light diagram | Zenni Optical

You don’t have to be a scientist, or even an accomplished graph reader, to see that the red wave of the reflection is equally matched by the black incident wave of the AR coating, which blocks the reflection on the lens as effectively as Jerry Kramer blocked Jethro Pugh in the Ice Bowl. (What? Ask a football fan or Google it.)

Jerry Kramer Ice Bowl Block | Zenni Optical

AR coatings are highly recommended for eyeglasses. They’re especially useful with high-index prescription lenses, because high-index lenses are thinner, lighter, and flatter than standard- and mid-index lenses, and therefore tend to reflect more light than lower index lenses do.

Before and After Anti-Reflective Coating for Glasses | Zenni Optical

But all lenses, even non-prescription lenses, benefit from AR coating, especially sunglasses.

Sunglasses with anti-reflective coating | Zenni Optical

However, one of the most important uses of AR coating will not involve sunglasses, unless you’re this guy.

Corey Hart in Sunglasses | Zenni Optical

For most people, who, unlike Corey Hart, don’t wear their sunglasses at night, AR coating is a must-have for driving glasses, prescription or non-prescription sunglasses, or clear prescription lenses. AR coating is great for reducing glare from streetlights, stoplights, taillights, and oncoming headlights. It’s especially good at decreasing the “halo” effect.

Model dressed as an angel with a halo | Zenni Optical

Wait, not that halo effect – that one should only be increased! Multiplied, even, at every possible opportunity. Here is the halo effect you want to reduce:

Halo effect | Zenni Optical

AR coating has daytime and indoor uses, too. It’s great for people who spend a lot of time on the computer, since it reduces glare from the monitor, which can cause eyestrain.

A woman who needs protection from glare | Zenni Optical

AR coating performs a great cosmetic function, too. It greatly decreases the reflection on eyeglasses’ lenses from external indoor and outdoor light sources. With AR coating, people looking at you while you’re wearing glasses will see your eyes rather than what’s reflected on the lenses. This is an excellent feature to have, unless you’re acting in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

Strangers on a Train still - Glasses with glare | Zenni Optical

If you haven’t seen that movie, check it out. It’s one of Hitchcock’s best.
In a minute we’re going to examine the three main types of AR coatings available for eyeglasses’ lenses: standard, hydrophobic, and oleophobic. They all work the same way, by blocking reflection and reducing glare with one or more layers of metal oxide that (remember the moth) allow more light to pass through the lens.

Before & after glasses anti-glare | Zenni Optical

But first, let’s dispose of the most common misconception about AR coatings: that they tint the lens. This is not true. AR coatings are clear and colorless and invisible on the lens.

Zenni Optical Eye Glasses with invisible AR coating

But there is a color-based way to tell if your lenses have AR coating. Sometimes people will think that, because reflections on the lenses are not entirely eliminated, their glasses don’t have AR coating, even though they ordered it.
To see if your eyeglasses have AR coating, hold the glasses parallel to the ground, with the temple arms (the stems that go behind your ear) up or down. Angle the glasses so you can see reflections on the lenses. If the reflections look green or purple, your lenses have AR coating.

High power lenses | Zenni Optical

Here’s why: The reflections will look green or purple, or both green and purple, because AR coating blocks waves that are in the green-to-purple wavelength of the spectrum of visible light. That’s why these colors are reflected on the lenses. If that’s not confusing enough, here’s a chart that will really have you scratching your head, unless you’re an optics geek:

Optics diagram for antireflective coating | Zenni Optical

Now that your brain has recovered (we hope), let’s look at those three main types of AR coatings: standard, hydrophobic, and oleophobic. Standard AR coating, which is $4.95 at Zenni Optical, and which can cost north of $100 at other optical retailers, does a great job of reducing reflections on eyeglasses lenses.
But there’s a big difference between standard AR coating and hydrophobic, which is $8.95 at Zenni, and oleophobic, which is $14.95 at Zenni. These AR coatings can cost as much as $200 at other optical retailers.
The hydrophobic AR coating is called that because although it blocks reflections the same way the standard AR coating does, it’s also water (hydro) resistant (phobic). It puts a slick surface on the lens that resists the buildup of water-based moisture, which is important to have when you’re watching a tearjerker like The Best Man Holiday for the 87th time.

The hydrophobic and oleophobic AR coatings make your eyeglasses’ lenses easier to clean than lenses with the standard AR coating. You can do this experiment yourself. If you have a pair of glasses with standard AR coating and a pair with hydrophobic or oleophobic AR coating, clean each pair with the cloth that comes with your Zenni glasses. It’s much easier to clean the hydrophobic or oleophobic pair than the standard pair, right? The cloth slides right across the surface of the hydrophobic- or oleophobic-coated lenses, while on the pair with the standard AR coating there’s a little drag on the lens.

Rupaul again! | Zenni Optical

Stop it! Behave. It’s not that kind of flame and not that kind of drag.
The oleophobic AR coating is called that because in addition to resisting water the way the hydrophobic AR coating does, it also resists oil and grease (that’s the “oleo” part, as in “oleomargarine,” which is what margarine used to be called).

Magarine | Zenni Optical

The oleophobic AR coating has a slick surface on the lens that, like the hydrophobic AR coating, resists the buildup of water moisture on the lens and makes the lenses easier to clean than lenses with the standard AR coating.
But it also protects against smudging from fingerprints as well as facial oils. This is useful when you don’t want to use your superpowers to clean your glasses, which would give away your secret identity.

A couple kissing | Zenni Optical

Zenni also offers special mirror-finish oleophobic AR coatings for sunglasses. These come in gold, silver, and blue, and each is $19.95. The back of the lens has the AR coating, and the front of the lens has the reflective mirror-finish coating. The gold mirror finish looks great with frames that are gold, red, brown, or tortoiseshell, such as frame A10102114.

Gold mirror finish sunglasses | Zenni Optical

The silver mirror finish looks great with any frame color or style, especially A10102412.

Silver mirror finish sunglasses | Zenni Optical

The blue mirror finish looks great with silver, black, gray, blue, or gold frames, such as 521814, and is especially good at reflecting harmful blue light.

Man wearing sunglasses with blue mirror finish | Zenni Optical

Or check out this beauty in the blue mirror finish. The frame (A10161222) looks great, too.

Woman wearing sunglasses with blue mirror finish | Zenni Optical

Speaking of reflecting harmful blue light, soon we’ll be launching our newest AR coating, which is specially designed to block blue light. Keep checking the Zenni Blog – and website – for details!

Friday, March, 14 2014 by

“Frame Friday” Roundup: St. Patty’s Looks Good

St. Patrick’s Day started as a small holiday in Ireland back in the 1700s. It’s become something much more than that. “Everybody’s Irish on St. Patty’s” as the saying goes. If you don’t want to look out of place, consider a great set of green glasses from Zenni.

Irish immigrants brought St. Patrick’s Day to the United States. By the early 19th Century, it had grown into an important expression of community pride for Irish Americans, centered on the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Nearly 200 years later, those immigrants would hardly recognize it.

In fact, St. Patrick’s day is a much bigger, sillier, more widely accepted day of festivities in the United States than it is back in Ireland. However, most of the indicative foods and symbols of the hobby have been the same for hundreds of years.

Two of the most iconic symbols of the holiday that have stood the test of time are wearing green – like a stylish pair of thin-rimmed glasses – and pinching people who don’t wear green.

Many think that the color green actually supplanted blue as the representation of St. Patrick’s Day around the time the holiday migrated to the United States, perhaps to embrace one of the dominant colors on the Irish flag. It might have to do with the tradition of dying the Chicago river green for the day, which also began around that time for seemingly unknown reasons.

More interestingly, the practice of pinching those who don’t wear green possibly has much older roots. Supposedly, Leprechauns like to pinch people, but wearing green makes you invisible to them. So people began pinching on St. Patty’s to remind others about how to avoid these mythological creatures and perhaps also to have a bit of fun mimicking them.

Whatever St. Patrick’s Day means to you, whether it’s a day to think about your heritage, an opportunity for green EVERYTHING, or a chance to cut loose and have fun, you’ll be happier doing it with the right glasses. Strap on a pair of green lenses from Zenni and wonder how St. Patty’s Day looks so good.

Friday, March, 14 2014 by

Cream and Blue: Classic Neutrals Get a Makeover

Some of the most eye-catching looks start with classic styles and neutral colors: The trick is adding just the right amount of color and bling, which can sometimes be a challenge.

We decided to take on that challenge and put together an outfit based around Zenni’s classic, tortoiseshell frame glasses, incorporating some other stylish but simple silhouettes (a trench and a simple ruffled dress) in neutral colors (dark blue and cream). To jazz things up, we added a striking gold cuff and a fabulous orange tote bag. This is a great transition outfit: Cream and blue are completely appropriate for late winter/early spring, while the splashes of orange and gold remind us that sunnier days are on their way.


Classic Tortoiseshell Eye Glasses from Zenni Optical
We started with this classic pair of tortoiseshell frame glasses from Zenni. Tortoiseshell goes well with most hair and eye colors, is great with a whole range of outfit colors, plus it flatters most skin tones. The darker hues of tortoiseshell add depth to a look and tie in other darker detailing that you might have on your coat, shoes or belt.  The lighter colors can also pick up brighter elements, like a pop of color or the metallic shine of jewelry.

With that in mind, we set about creating our look!  Here’s the lowdown on each of the pieces:


Double-breasted Trench Coat from Rose Wholesale: This is a classic trench, updated with contrasting trim. It’s also an absolute steal at $21.90, particularly since coats like this never go out of style and you can wear them just about everywhere.


Ramie Dress For Women from Sammy DressRamie Dress For Women from Sammy Dress: This is a super cute dress that should easily take you from spring into summer. A versatile piece for your closet, it can be dressed down with flip flops or sandals during the day, then paired with party heels and your favorite jewelry in the evening.  Another great deal at $13.64.


Francesco Biasia Orange Leather Tote from OnQue StyleFrancesco Biasia Leather Tote from OnQue Style: This orange leather tote is large enough to carry your stuff but not so big that it overwhelms you. The color is gorgeous and the handles and shoulder strap give you great options. This tote currently sells for $195.


Steve Madden Xternal from Bel Fiore BoutiqueSteve Madden Xternal from Bel Fiore Boutique: These Nubuck wedges look incredible with this outfit, though they’ll also go equally well with jeans and a blouse. These shoes coordinate perfectly with the trench and balance out the delicacy of this dress, allowing you to wear this outfit both to work and to go out with friends. These wedges can be had for $69.99.


Gold Vermeil Bracelet from Amy Ming Jewelry BoutiqueGold Vermeil Bracelet from Amy Ming Jewelry Boutique: This gorgeous bracelet rocks our outfit, it matches the gold trim on the handbag, while also contrasting beautifully with the blue dress. Its size holds its own with the larger bag and the serious wedges, creating a powerful, professional look. This bracelet is $210.00.



Monday, March, 10 2014 by

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