Approximately 60% of American adults need help with their eyesight. Glasses and contacts are so ubiquitous that we rarely stop to think about how necessary they are, or about the significant ongoing expense they entail.
Lensabl started as a provider of custom-made replacement glasses, meant for those who have a well-loved pair of frames that needs to be revived. However, the company recently expanded its offer to include affordable and brand-name frames, contact lenses, and online eye exams. In addition to low prices, it also offers payment plans and insurance for your lenses.
Is it better and more affordable to let Lensabl take care of your eyewear needs? We tested Lensabl and will share all details about its strengths and disadvantages so that you can find the best deals and decide if the services are right for you.
Pros & Cons
- Lensabl’s custom-made lenses are highly customizable: choose from a wide variety of coatings, finishes, and filters, including Transitions and multifocal lenses
- Replacement lenses are markedly cheaper than those offered at traditional optometrist offices
- Contact lenses are up to 10% less than those sold by competitors like ContactsDirect or ContactsCart
- Flexible payment options: credit cards, PayPal, HSA or FSA cards, and Amazon Affirm installments
- All lenses made in a facility in the U.S.
- Solid and secure packaging protects frames during shipping
- You can get 15% off lens replacement or Everyday Eyewear frames using the code INNERBODY
- Lensabl’s Everyday Eyewear catalog could be improved with more variety of styles
- From start to finish, ordering replacement frames from Lensabl can take up to 20 days
- Lensabl doesn’t interface with your insurance (though it does offer guidance in how you can seek insurance reimbursement yourself)
Lensabl’s main claim to fame is the possibility to get replacement lenses on your current beloved frames. This continues to be its biggest service and one that we recommend. Lens replacement with Lensabl is a very solid value compared to what you would spend on the process elsewhere. Ordering from Lensabl is also straightforward, but not fast, so the process works best if you are not in a huge hurry (for instance, if you already have more than one pair of frames, or if you come across a rare find at a flea market). The company has recently started offering its own frames as well as contact lenses.
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What Lensabl offers
Lensabl was founded in Los Angeles in 2015 by Andrew Bilinsky. The company’s original goal was to provide high-quality, custom-made lenses directly to the consumer and entirely online.
During its first two years, Lensabl was only an online lens replacement provider, and this is how the company built much of its good reputation.
Starting from 2017, it began expanding its product portfolio to become a “one-stop-shop” for people with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Lensabl’s full offer includes:
- Lens replacement service
- Prescription glasses (frames and lenses)
- Contact lenses
- Online eye testing
Lens replacement service
Lensabl Lens replacement service
Starting at $77 – but use code INNERBODY to save 15%
Frames are a highly personal (and often expensive) choice. Few of us are willing to give up on an old pair that fits our face well, especially if we paid a lot for it. However, very few people enjoy static eye prescriptions; most of us will see our prescription needs change over the years.
Many eyewear stores are in the business of selling frames, and therefore are quick to relegate their lens replacement service to the back of the shop. Instead, you can mail your old frames to Lensabl, who will refit them from scratch without you ever having to leave your house. Its lenses are all made to order and include a wide range of customization options:
- Single-vision prescription lenses. These are the typical lenses that you would use to correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism (vision distortion)
- Bifocal prescription lenses. These allow you to see near and far distances at different prescriptions, with each area separated by a visible line.
- Progressive prescription lenses. These are a newer alternative to bifocal lenses, but rather than a demarcated line, they provide a seamless progression for long, medium, and near distance vision.
- Reading lenses. These are non-prescription lenses with mild magnification (ranging from +0.25 to +3.50), meant to help you see things up close, read, or take care of delicate tasks like knitting.
- Custom filter lenses. All lenses are available in clear versions, as well as blue-light-blocking, tinted, or mirrored versions.
- Transitions lenses. Also known as photochromic lenses, these adapt to ambient light and darken automatically when exposed to sunlight.
- Extra resistance and high-index lenses. All lenses are available in standard polycarbonate, thicker shatter-resistant versions, or thinner, lighter high-index lenses.
- Custom coatings and polishes. All lenses are available with standard and premium anti-reflex, hydrophobic, and anti-smudge coatings.
Ordering replacement lenses through Lensabl
The process to order replacement lenses requires some back-and-forth mailing, so it may take up to 20 days from start to finish. However, Lensabl makes it remarkably simple to navigate, and you won’t need to reject any attempts at upsells – just tick the boxes you are interested in.
Just head to the Lensabl website and follow these steps:
1. Select your lens type and power
Lensabl offers prescription strength, reading, and non-prescription lenses. If you choose prescription lenses, you will also need to have your prescription information handy (or a picture of it).
If you choose reading lenses, you will just need to specify their strength from a drop-down menu.
2. Customize your lenses
Next, select the type of filter (clear, tinted, blue-light, or Transitions) for your new lenses. If you choose tinted lenses (sunglasses), you will also need to specify the color, tint level, and style (gradient, polarized, or solid).
Then, select a thickness option (standard polycarbonate, thicker Trivex lenses, or slimmer high-index lenses) and any upgrades you want (premium coatings, polished edges, polished and rolled edges, and lense insurance).
Each of these options works as an add-on and it may raise the price of your lenses. However, you will always be able to see the extra cost right next to each option, as well as your running total, on the extreme right side.
3. Enter your prescription, if necessary
If you choose prescription lenses, you will then be provided with several ways to enter and verify your prescription. The easiest one is simply to upload a pic or scanned photo of your physical prescription.
If you don’t have the original prescription handy, you can also enter it manually – but this can be a bit complicated if you don’t know what’s what. The prescription includes separate powers for each eye’s Sphere, Cylinder and Axis, as well as the pupillary distance.
Lastly, provide your doctor’s contact information so Lensabl can verify this prescription.
If you have used Lensabl’s online eye test service, you’re able to access your prescription under “Use a Saved Rx”. Afterwards, proceed to checkout.
4. Send your frames to Lensabl
At the checkout screen, you find the standard payment information and shipping address section. You can choose the desired shipping type (Standard, Priority, Overnight or Expedited) and the method you will use to send your frames.
By default, Lensabl will send you a pre-labeled box for you to send your frames to its facility. This box can take 3 to 5 days to arrive, and therefore it may lengthen the process. However, we suggest you use Lensabl’s packaging; it is a very nice, compact box, and it comes with a bubble pouch, a sealing sticker, and clear instructions to help you pack your frame securely.
If you’d rather not wait an extra 3 days or generate more paper waste, you can also choose the “print your own label” option and use your own box. This printed label will include a barcode, certifying that the shipping fees are prepaid.
5. Wait and then receive your refurbished glasses
From the moment it receives your frames, Lensabl needs between 4 and 7 days to manufacture your new lenses and fit them onto the frames. Then Lensabl will ship the package back to you. The total time required for you to receive your newly refurbished glasses can take between 15 and 20 days, depending on the type of shipping you chose.
Lensabl Prescription frames
Starting at $10, plus the cost of the lenses (which start at $77)
So you don’t have a beloved pair of frames and haven’t found the perfect pair of vintage frames yet – but you just need a functional, brand-new pair instead? Lensabl now also offers new frames, fitted with custom prescription lenses. The company has a decent variety of budget brands and models, and it has also established partnerships with Bose, Toms, Coco and Breezy, GreyAnt, and iGotham.
Most of its models in the “budget range” (which the company calls “Everyday Eyewear”) will cost between $10 and $30, on top of the cost of the actual lenses, but you can save 15% on these frames using the code INNERBODY, making them even more affordable. You will have the same prescription, tint, material, and coating options available as in the lens replacement service. Most frame models are available in at least two colors, although upon closer inspection, we found that at least one color was out of stock in almost all cases.
Conversely, Lensabl’s designer frames cost between $140 and $250, plus the cost of the lenses. It also has a few sunglasses as low as $80. Pricing for the designer frames is comparable to what you can find elsewhere, but at least the ones offered by Lensabl are all authentic, and you can still save on the lenses.
How to buy prescription frames
The ordering process here works a lot like how you order replacement lenses, only with less shipping back and forth.
1. Select your frames
Simply head to Lensabl’s frames catalog and select your favorite model.
Lensabl’s “Virtual Try On” feature will let you see how the lenses might look on you. This is meant to be an approximation, but we were surprised by how well it worked; you won’t need to take a brand-new selfie while facing straight ahead, or try to fit your face or chin in a narrow box. We tried it out with some slightly off-center pictures, and even one facing upward, and the software tilted the glasses as needed. The results felt realistic, rather than the automatically generated pics you would find from a free makeover app.
2. Select and customize your lenses
Lenses are Lensabl’s main specialty, so the company offers a vast array of customization options. Fortunately, the menu makes it very easy to pick the ideal option. Most of these work as “upgrades” or add-ons and the extra cost will always be displayed right next to its description. You can keep track of your running total on the right side of the screen.
You can choose between:
- Clear, tinted, or blue-light filters
- Thickness options (standard, high-index, or Trivex)
- Coatings and finishes (Premium hydrophobic coating, polished, and rolled edges)
3. Enter your prescription details
This works the same way as for the lens replacement service. You can upload a scanned copy of your prescription, enter it manually, or access the results from your online eye exam under your “Saved Rx”. If you choose to enter the information manually, you will also need to provide your optometrist’s name and contact information so Lensabl can verify the prescription.
4. Proceed to checkout
At checkout, you will just need to choose the shipping method and enter your payment information. Keep in mind that Lensabl takes between 4 to 7 days to manufacture your lenses, so depending on the shipping method you choose, you may have to wait up to 10 days before your new glasses arrive.
Lensabl Contact lenses
Single-day disposable lenses start at $29.99 per box of 30
Monthly disposable lenses start at $59.99 per box of 6
Monthly multifocal lenses start at $64.99 per box of 6
Whether you only wear them on special occasions or nearly every day, contact lenses can be a major ongoing expense for people with near- or farsightedness. Lensabl’s range of contact lenses is surprisingly varied and includes daily disposable contacts, as well as bi-weekly and monthly models. The company also offers a limited range of toric and multifocal models.
Lensabl delivers contacts from the following manufacturers:
- Alcon. This Swiss Company is one of the giants in the contact lens industry. It is responsible for the Air Optix and Freshlook Color brands, as well as some toric and multifocal options.
- Bausch + Lomb. This German manufacturer specializes in budget-friendly contacts for highly active people. Some of its best-known product lines include SofLens and Purevision.
- CooperVision. This high-end manufacturer specializes in toric contact lenses for people with astigmatism. It produces Biofinity and ProClear contact lenses
- Johnson & Johnson. This is possibly the best-known manufacturer of disposable contact lenses in the U.S., as it produces the ubiquitous Acuvue lines.
Buying contact lenses
The purchase process on Lensabl is very simple:
- Find your brand and select the number of boxes you need. Most of the models are available in 12, 6, and 3-month supplies. You can also link with Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” to access a small additional discount (usually between 5-15%).
- Enter your prescription. This includes the power for each eye, the Base Curvature (BC), and total Diameter (DIA). Keep in mind that most brands offer a wide range of powers, but only one BC and DIA. These values all must match your prescription, which you will provide on the next screen.
- Proceed to check out to pay and select a shipping option.
Online eye exam
Lensabl Online eye exam
$25 per exam
Lensabl’s Online Eye Exam service was launched less than a year ago, and it’s meant to help Lensabl customers get a legal prescription in order to buy glasses or contact lenses. However, this does not replace a professional eye examination, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions that could affect your eyesight.
To get an online eye exam with Lensabl, you just need a smartphone or a computer with a webcam. The actual exam only takes about 15 minutes.
What does an online eye exam entail?
First, you need to be over 18 years old and live in a state that allows telemedicine for eye examinations. Lensabl confirms your eligibility using a very short quiz, and then takes you to the checkout page to pay a single, straightforward fee of $25. Then, you’ll be asked if you already have a past or expired prescription – this helps Lensabl narrow down its screening process.
The exam requires you to turn on your webcam or your smartphone’s frontal camera. You will need to look at a series of lines, letters and symbols. They usually come in pairs, and you must choose which one seems blurrier or clearer. You will also need to step away at different distances. If you requested a prescription for traditional glasses, you must send pictures of your eyes so that Lensabl can calculate pupillary distance.
After you finish, Lensabl will send your results and pictures to a doctor. It can take up to 24 hours to review your results and confirm your prescription. You’ll then be able to use this prescription to order contact lenses or replacement frames – it will be stored under the “Use a Saved Rx” option during the purchase process.
Insurance, HSA, FSA, and payment options
Insurance, HSA, FSA, and payment options
Lensabl does not deal directly with insurance companies and doesn’t accept direct insurance credit. However, if you have insurance and want to get reimbursed, Lensabl will provide you with an itemized bill that will meet the requirements set by most insurance companies. Lensabl also will guide you through the basic paperwork required to file for a reimbursement.
If you have a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Savings Account linked to a major credit card (VISA, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express) you can also use it to pay directly for any Lensabl purchases.
Finally, Lensabl has partnered with Amazon to offer payment plans or installments through Amazon Affirm. Most of its replacement lenses or new frames can be paid in 3 to 6 months. To access this, you will need to give Affirm permission to check your credit rating after you have selected the product you want to buy. Approval of your credit typically happens in 12 hours or less.
Shipping and return policy
Shipping and return policy
For the most part, Lensabl offers efficient and flexible shipping options. Here are the details of its shipping options for the continental United States and Puerto Rico:
- Standard shipping uses First-Class USPS and is free.
- Priority shipping uses Priority USPS and costs $4.99.
- Overnight shipping uses UPS Overnight shipping and costs $10.
- Expedited shipping costs $20.
Lensabl also ships to most APO/FPO addresses and Canada. However, if you are buying replacement lenses, you won’t be able to get one of its pre-labeled boxes to send in your frames, and Lensabl won’t be able to generate a printable label online; you must take care of that extra fee on your own.
Returns and warranty
Because Lensabl works mostly with custom-made products, it doesn’t accept any returns or refunds. However, it does have a pretty decent satisfaction guarantee. By default, any lenses you order from this company will come with a 90-day warranty against scratches and coating problems. You can also buy an extended warranty for $10.
If Lensabl accidentally receives the wrong lenses, you have 30 days to contact the company and then it will remake the lenses for free. This deadline starts running from the day you receive the glasses. It’s a common-sense, sound policy, but does require you to check the glasses’ labels as soon as you receive them. If Lensabl made an obvious error with the tint or coating, you may be able to notice this at first glance. However, a +/-1.00 difference in your lens power would be invisible to the naked eye – but may give you a headache a few weeks later.