Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Eyes Have It

David was in need of a new pair of glasses. Yes, it had been some time since his last eye exam. But besides that, his frames have taken quite a beating. I enter into evidence, Exhibit "A":

See that gloppy piece on the right-side hinge? That came about when that part broke last year -- literally hours before we were to board the plane to move here. There was no time to get them fixed before we left. At first, a bit of carefully placed sticky tape worked. But once we were here in Corozal, he found some epoxy and made a more stable repair. That lasted for a bit, but it meant the hinge was toast, so he couldn't fold his glasses. Over time, the epoxy gave out and, as he was flying blind in making the repair, a bit more epoxy got applied than was probably necessary. It took to looking like some weird cocoon. Not pretty.

You might also take note of the lack of any cushioning component on the curved ear pieces. That happened because of our puppy, Olivia. Not longer after adopting her, she found David's glasses on his nightstand. A new chew toy!

As places such as LensCrafters don't exist here, we needed to find some way to get this man some new eye wear. A Belizean friend of ours told us about Zenni Optical. We checked out their website and were impressed by the number of frames and the prices. I mean, really, when was the last time you found prescription glasses for under $30 USD that you would actually wear out in public? Plus they can do bifocals, progressives, and sunglasses. In addition to the huge selection, the site allows you to upload a picture of yourself so you can see how any of the frames look on your face. You can also see a 360-degree view of all the frames and zoom in on any details. Hey, they even ship to Belize!

But before being able to place an order, David needed to get his eyes checked and get a prescription. We heard of an eye doctor here in town, whose name escapes me at the moment, located on the same street as the Income Tax department. Anyway, David made an appointment and went in for his exam, which cost a whopping $25.00 BZD / $12.50 USD. The doctor has a limited selection of frames to choose from, and they run around $400 BZD / $200 USD. Tack on the lenses and the cost would go up to $875 BZD / $437.50 USD.

We decided to do a cost comparison with Zenni. Turns out that David could purchase two pairs of glasses (frames and lenses) for $276.00 USD, including FedEx shipping to Belize. Hard to beat that. But the proof would be if the they got the prescription right and the package could indeed find it's way here on a somewhat timely basis.

David placed his order on a Sunday. The next day, the glasses were done and shipped. It's worth noting that while the website shows Zenni's location is in California, it must be only their office. The actual manufacturing is done in China. So yes, the glasses were done and shipped from China by the next day. We kept an eye on the tracking progress and found out they arrived in Belize City on the Friday the week the order was placed. There seemed to be some hold up there for a day or two, but when David called the FedEx office on Monday, he was told the package was on a plane from Tropic Air (one of our local airlines) and was en route to Corozal.

Sure enough, yesterday we stopped by the Corozal Tropic Air terminal (about a two-minute drive from our house) and out David walked with his glasses.

And guess what? He didn't have to pay one cent of duty.

So here's what he ended up with:

Both pairs have titanium frames. The pair on the left came with a free pair of clip-on sunglasses. The pair on the right came with two pairs of magnetized clip-on sunglasses, one which was included in the price, the other free. Each were packed in plastic cases and came with cleaning cloths and even a mini screwdriver, should minor adjustments need to be made.

So the delivery time was a winner, but what about the prescription, fit, and overall quality of the glasses?

It turns out that on both pairs the right lens is just a tad off. David can see well for distance, but reading up close is a bit fuzzy. We suspect the eye doctor might have made a small miscalculation. The overall fit on both pairs is fine. However the lenses on the left pair are smaller and more rounded than the website showed. The pair with the magnetized clip-ons needed small tweeks to the nose pieces, but that was it. The quality of the frames were as good as anything we could have found in the States.

So would we use them again? Sure. Matter of fact, I've been checking out some frames for myself!

BTW: This isn't a paid advertisement. Just sharing our experience.


  1. I'm scoping out Zenni Optical myself (no pun intended). Now if I could just figure out a way to reuse the lenses from my frames that broke. The lenses are fine, it's the frame that went - actually the right ear piece.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I order all my glasses from zenni (and so does craig now, and most of the people in my office). I think I have 12 pairs, between the glasses and prescription sun glasses. I always figure that if I get a pair of frames that I dont like, they become my emergency pair. most of mine were $6.95 (cheaper, as they are single lens) I love, love, love Zenni optical!
    liz and craig

  3. That is very helpful information! Thankyou for sharing that.