In a world with increasing costs and limited insurance coverage for eyeglasses, you may be looking for the most affordable option, and for some, that’s a difficult endeavor. However, brands such as Zenni Optical now exist to reduce the burden of expensive frames and lenses. But why is it so cheap? And is the lower price worth it? 

Zenni Optical is cheaper because they don’t have brick-and-mortar stores. Their business structure includes making lenses at their own facility and then shipping them directly to customers. This, in turn, cuts out several middlemen and helps keep costs low for the consumer. 

So, as you can see, the basic answer lies in the distribution chain. Below we will cover this more in-depth and review the pros and cons of Zenni Optical so that you can decide whether it’s worth buying from this ever-growing brand. 

How Does Zenni Optical Keep Costs Low?

The price point from Zenni can be both attractive and questionable. However, know that there is nothing nefarious with the brand. There are a few reasons why they can keep the costs low:

  • Zenni Optical uses a direct-to-consumer model. This means that Zenni doesn’t have to worry about overhead from storefronts and reduces how much is needed to spend on warehouse costs. 
  • They have their own production facility. Zenni does not need to send out lenses to a third party to have the prescriptions done. Manufacturing costs are significantly reduced as well—not completely, but enough to pass on the savings to consumers.
  • There are no licensing fees. Because they are making their own brand of lenses and frames, they don’t have to worry about expensive licensing fees. 
  • Zenni Optical does its manufacturing in China. This also helps keep costs down. Keep in mind, 90% of all glasses are manufactured in China, so the quality will be similar to name brands. If the glasses have defects, you can get a refund after they inspect.

Is Zenni Optical Worth it?

You may be wondering if Zenni Optical is worth it, considering its low cost compared to other glasses brands. After all, on the surface, the low prices tend to make people wary of poor quality. 

Zenni Optical is worth it if you are on a budget and have a simpler prescription. However, the brand may not be ideal if you require special prescriptions or lenses or are looking for high quality. 

Low Costs

The frames from Zenni Optical cost as little as $6.95, and while they may not be name brand, they are just as stylish as a $200 pair of frames. 

  • Single visions lenses at a 1.50 or 1.57 index are free. 
  • Mid-index can cost as little as $9. 
  • High index lenses will run you $19.95 and up. 

If you have bifocals or progressive lenses, you are also in luck because Zenni Optical offers those as well. Bifocals start at $17 and progressive at $27.95. These are prices that you honestly can’t beat nor find at any in-person store.  

Affordable Additional Features

Anti-scratch and UV coating are also highly sought after for glasses; at a normal store, you’d have to pay per lens to have it done, but with Zenni Optical, it is included free! Tints are low-cost as well, and if you work with screens frequently, you can even get a blue light filter coating for a reasonable price. 

Lens Restrictions 

Sometimes, Zenni Optical cannot fulfill special prescriptions due to the limitations that they have. 

Some people have complained that Zenni Optical doesn’t offer higher prescriptions. This once proved to be true, but they’ve seemed to increase the more complex prescriptions that some require over the years. 

If you get an alert that they can’t do the prescription you entered, double-check that you entered everything correctly. You can also compare your prescription to this handy guide, which shows you what Zenni Optical can or can’t provide. 

Questionable Return Policy

You will see polarizing opinions on Zenni Optical’s return policy, and for good reason. If you do not like the look of the glasses or made a mistake entering your prescription when ordering your glasses:

  • You can get a 100% one-time use, in-store credit. The other option is a 50% refund of the money spent, excluding the cost of shipping. 
  • If you paid with store credit, you can only receive a refund of 50% to the in-store credit amount used to pay for the order. This also excludes shipping on the return. 

If you believe the manufacturer made a mistake, you will have to contact Zenni Optical. They will then have their team of inspectors review the glasses to ensure their quality. If they are found to be faulty, Zenni Optical will remake them for no additional cost; you will not be able to receive a full refund. 

Note: Keep in mind that the return warranty is generally 30 days, but one year for the anti-reflective and the photochromic coating. 

Lower Quality

With low-cost things, you can usually expect reduced quality. The quality control of Zenni Optical’s products does seem to be lacking, judging from reviews from the BBB. There are obviously satisfied customers, but keep in mind that you might be out up to 50% of your cost if they deem there is actually no defect with the final product. 

People that are used to purchasing expensive glasses are generally more than satisfied with the look and feel of Zenni Optical frames and lenses. However, those that get lenses they can’t see out of are stuck with faulty glasses or forced to take the 50% refund for a return. 

The majority of issues seem to be with the lenses themselves and not the actual frames. Another factor with quality is that there is no in-person ophthalmologist to assist with fitting the frame and making sure the lenses are aligned properly. This is something you will need to consider because you are most likely going to be stuck with whatever you get.

Final Thoughts 

With Zenni Optical—as well as ordering anything online—there is always a risk of getting something defective and dealing with support and the unknown of the product. However, the cost savings can be astronomical compared to getting glasses from an ophthalmologist or other big-brand retailers. 

However, there are some drawbacks, the biggest being Zenni Optical’s return policy, especially when there is a defect, but thousands of people love the lower cost. If you are on the fence, browse their selection and the cost of the various lenses and lens add-ons. Just keep in mind, even if there seems to be a defect, you will most likely not be given a 100% refund.