Optimizing the Zenni Optical Ordering Experience

A lot of people wear glasses. I wear them too. If you have a high/difficult prescription, Zenni may not be for you. For everyone else that doesn’t need a pixel perfect prescription, this may help you save a bit.

Most important policy first - “but what if I don’t like my glasses”:

  1. You order frames that you hope you’ll like.
  2. Keep the ones you like
  3. Return the ones you don’t for their “one time 100% in-store credit or 50% to your credit card/paypal account

The “one time 100% in-store credit” policy means that if you order a pair of glasses using in-store credit, you can only return that pair for a 50% refund to your credit card/paypal account. It helps to pay for frames that you aren’t sure with your credit card, and then pay for the frames you know for sure you like using the in-store credit.

You should know:

Zenni’s glasses range from $20–80/pair. Factors that go into pricing are as follows:

  • Frame (basics are cheap, fancypants are expensive)
  • Lenses
  • Anti-Reflective/Reflection Coating
  • Clip-ons/accessories
  • Shipping speeds

Rimless/half rims are more expensive. Full frames are less expensive.

Zenni also recommends lenses based on your prescription and the type of frame you get.

Why Zenni over legacy retailers, besides pricing?

  1. I can order replacement frames online
  2. I can afford multiple pairs in case one breaks/gets lost/I eat one

Here’s what I did to find frames I liked:

  1. Obtain relevant information
  2. Find frames that fit your information
  3. Select frame options
  4. Order some frames
  5. Return some frames

1. Obtaining Relevant Information:

You’ll want to know the following before you start ordering online:

  • doctor’s prescription and PD value
  • bridge length/number
  • lens width
  • shape of glasses that you prefer (I have a round face, so I searched only for rectangular frames)

You can get these numbers from your current pair of glasses. They look something like “51–20–139”.

If you have a current pair of glasses, you can read it off of that. Regardless, I recommend travelling to a store and trying on all the pairs of glasses that you like, while noting down all the measurements so you can look them up later. One of the things you might say to a salesperson might be “oh I just really like this pair I want to take the model number down so I can come back later and remember which pair I liked.” It’s up to you.

2. Finding Frames:

This part requires the most work, but you’re sitting in front of a screen and clicking the mouse.

Hopefully you’re on a laptop with a webcam, or you have a phone with a front-facing camera. Take a picture, upload it to zenni’s frame fit tool on the right side. Some of them will make you look stupid, but some might not.

Under featured click “View All Glasses”. Here’s a link: http://www.zennioptical.com/glasses/all

Use the (terrible) filters on the left side to sort through the ones that fit your criteria. Bridge lengths up to +/- 2 worked for me. For example, my bridge length on my old pair was 18. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 lengths were fine for me. You can only select one measurement at a time, and not a range of lengths unfortunately, but the grind is worth the savings.

Take note of the lens heights and widths to see if they fit your face.

For lens heights:

  • small: 25–28
  • medium: 27–32
  • large: 32+

For lens widths:

  • small: 47–49
  • medium: 50–52
  • large: 52+

Zooming in on Zenni’s preview doesn’t work properly. Don’t click it.

Once you have a list of 5–10 that you like of the 1500 or so frames that you can choose from (this may take you anywhere from 2–12 hours), you can choose which options you want.

3. Frame Options:

Lens Choices:

  • 1.50 = CR-39 (standard-index)/hard-resin (low prescriptions and highest quality viewing)
  • 1.57 = Polycarbonate composite (for low prescriptions, thin and light lenses)
  • 1.59 = pure polycarbonate (cheap/scratches easier, but even thinner)
  • 1.53 = trivex (expensive, but thin)
  • 1.61 high-index polymer (high prescriptions)
  • 1.67 high-index polymer (high prescriptions, but thinner)

Zenni will recommend the best one to you. For one of the pairs I received, the lens were very heavy as I ordered the standard-index lenses. I returned it and ordered a pair with the polycarbonate composite lenses to lower the weight.

Beyond UV Blue Blockers:

Get it if you want it. I didn’t get any as I used f.lux before the Windows 10 Creator’s update then “Night Mode” after the Windows 10 Creator’s update hit.

Photochromatic Lenses/Transitions ®:

You go outside, your lenses turn dark. It’s magic. Get it if you want, but I prefer the clip-ons for the following reasons:

  1. I prefer controlling whether things look dark or not. On cloudy days, you’ll be exposed to UV, but the lenses will darken, making your view dark.
  2. It’s cheaper to get the clip-on.

Anti-Reflective Coating:

Some of them will have an option for a lens coating. I like the oleophobic one. If you’re really tight on money, get the standard anti-reflective coating. I’ve read online/heard that not getting any anti-reflective coating sucks.


The only option available is “Extra Magnetic Sunshades”. The selector for “0” is “Select Quantity”. Not the best user interface, but it works.

Repeat this adding to cart process for a few frames and lenses.

4. Ordering:

In Canada, Zenni takes about a week to make glasses, and a week to ship.

For reference, I ordered my pair on 2017–05–28 and 2017–06–09 (2 weeks) in the mail with standard shipping.

Promo codes on checkout: SIGNUP10 (10%), WELCOME05ASMYSRMB (10%)

5. Returns:

I ordered 5, loved 1. Returned 4, and I’m ordering another 2, one of which I know I’ll love (was part of the original 5 I received but was slightly too heavy, so I ordered the lighter, higher index lens).

Cost: $220 USD -> $300 CAD, returning $160 worth of frames.

If I keep 2 frames:

Choosing to take 50% credit back on my card would give me $80 USD back, bringing the total cost of the two lenses to 140 USD (<$200 CAD).

If I keep 3 frames:

$80 USD in in-store credit remaining. Can opt to buy an $80 lens and return it for the 50% refund on the card, which is $40 USD. 180 USD = $250 CAD.

Works out to $60 USD/$80 CAD per frame.

If you know a family member or friend that’s looking to try this out, it may make more sense to opt for the in-store credit and use it on them instead.

Don’t get me started on the Luxottica monopoly.