I have bought my first glasses on AliExpress for just 5 dollars. That included prescription lenses and shipping — of course. 😉 While that was a limited time offer, the same pair usually goes for around 15 bucks. Others I have bought in the 20–30 dollar range and am really satisfied with them.
Having lived in Asia for a while and seeing glasses in various prescriptions being sold on night markets for just a few dollars, paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars in western countries just seems ridiculous now — especially considering that glasses are just a piece of plastic, metal, and glass. I can buy a decent hi-tech smartphone these days for as little as 100 dollars or less. In comparison, it’s just crazy to spend, say, 200–400 dollars on a low-tech piece of plastic with lenses created by a machine.
Warby Parker and others have paved the way for buying glasses online. So why not go a step further and pass on the savings to the consumer as well?! 💸
Here’s how to go about buying cheap (only monetary, not in quality) prescription glasses from AliExpress (further links down below):
🔢 Get Your Prescription Details
As is the case for other online shops for prescription glasses, you will need your prescription values. You will usually get them from your optician when you buy new glasses and it will have this format:
You could also go get your eyes measured at an eye doctor’s. These values you can then pretty much just copy and paste either into AliExpress’s mask, which looks like this:
Or you can just message them to the respective seller. If you’re unsure what values go where, it’s probably useful to send your seller a message as well — you can even just send them a picture of your prescription. They are usually super helpful and quick (and will usually address you with Dear friend 😀).
The whole form will then look like this:
👍 Decide on Frames and Lenses
There’s a broad choice of frames and lenses on AliExpress. You can generally decide between two modes of ordering:
- Package deal: Frames and lenses in one order — probably a good starting point for the beginning (see links at the end).
- Separate frames and lenses (from the same seller): You will have two put the frames and the lenses from the same seller in the shopping basket separately. Usually, the sellers link to their lens offering in the description of the frames.
As for the different kind of lenses, you can choose of a big variety of functional lenses, such as: anti blue ray (if you sit in front of screens a lot), polarized, gradient, or photochromic ones (that change their color to sunglasses when in direct sunlight).
I went for pretty standard ones without any additional functionality — even though I will probably try the photochromic ones for my next order. 😎 Depending on how bad your eyesight is, you will want to choose between different indexes. You will want thinner lenses/higher indexes, the worse your eyes are. I have a sphere of -2.25 and usually go for a 1.5–1.6 index. The sellers will usually have a recommendation on that in their listing’s description — and you can always message them.
Let’s get to the visually (pun intended) more important part :
👓 Frame Size and Form
Unless you don’t exactly know what kind of frames you’d like, it’s probably advantageous to have looked around in physical shops and tried on a few different styles. The seller’s will carry a huge variety and will usually have a separate category for the newest in-styles.
What you’ll likely want to do before deciding on a pair, is checking the sizes a little. A sizing chart on AliExpress will give you the sizes for the frames as such:
You can compare those to previous glasses you have owned. The sizes are usually written on the inside of the glasses’ temple and will look something like this:
The sizes of your new glasses won’t have to be exactly the same as your old ones though — just to give you an idea. In the optician’s shop you will usually be sold the ones that somewhat fit and that they happen to have on the rack just then.
🙋 Some Final Hints
Shopping on AliExpress is like Christmas 🎄: you will shop around, not remember what you bought, and in 2–3 weeks time you will surprise yourself with an unexpected delivery. That is to say, that you will have to wait a little for anything you buy at Ali’s — but that’s not a bad thing: practice your patience 🙏 and frame (!) it as a surprise — from yourself, to yourself. 😊
One final note on adjusting the frames once you hold your brand new, super cheap and awesome glasses in your hands: it’s usually quite easy to adjust the frames yourself, if need be. There’s tons of explanations on the web — such as here and here.
Now, lastly, some good starting points to shop around: women’s prescription package deals, men’s prescription package deals, men’s frames, women’s frames. And some quality sellers/shops: Honillesi, Eoouooe, Fonex, Ivsta. Remember: if you buy frames and lenses separately, you want to buy them from the same shop. Otherwise, you will get two deliveries: one with your frames, the other one with the lenses. 😅
PS: I’ve recently released the first version of a browser extension called alify.me that puts the relevant AliExpress products right on the Amazon website. Install it here for Chrome or here for Firefox. There’s a screenshot (with some modifications) on the left/above.