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You, like many Americans, may have some money lingering in your flex spending account for 2007. You need to use it or you'll definitely lose it.

Back when I had a flex spending account, I'd always use what I had left at the end of the year for part of a pair of glasses at LensCrafters or some other over-priced joint -- on a good year it'd cover maybe one temple, and a couple of nose pads, and maybe two-thirds of a lens.

Anyway, if the options laid out before us now had been available then, I'd have been decked out in a number of pairs of new specs in time for the New Year.

Some companies have extended the deadline to use flex benefits for a couple of months into the 2008 (the IRS started allowing this in 2005).

(NOTE: You'll need to check with your benefits people as they have yet to be required to grant this extension. Most decent companies have, so here's hoping you work for one. If not lean on your HR staff for next year.)

Need glasses? How about a few pairs?

39 Dollar Glasses will do most of the work for you. All purchases made with them can be made with your company FSA credit card. In most cases they'll be automatically approved with no more paperwork.

Look for this graphic on all of their products.

You may have luck with some of the other retailers, but no one makes it easier on you than 39 Dollar Glasses.

The deadline may be later this year, but the result is the same -- use it or lose it.

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See and share more great shots of Torley and others in the GlassyEyes flickr group.
Torley, who you may recognize -- at least in name -- from Linden Lab's amazing Second Life, needed some glasses. I mean he really *needed* some new glasses (see "before...").

Unable to see particularly well and in need of a new look, he, like I a year previously, went to buy some new glasses at a traditional eyeglasses outlet. After picking himself up off the floor when seeing the price, his mind took him to the internet.

A thoughtful and well-written piece was spawned from this experience. Here are a few of the highlights:

My gosh, "There's got to be a better way!" I tensely exclaimed to myself, and it's within those tense self-exclamations that I rationalize, "You can buy a lot of things through the Internet for cheap!"

At this point he found the 43Folders article by our friend, Matt. And through that connection, us.

I figured, "If this goes bad, I don't have a big hole in my wallet, and if this goes well, I've triumphed in my experiment!" (I like to run experiments ordering things off the Internet.)

We're kindred spirits in this regard, Torley (no way am I going to pay $60 for a used Airport Card for 6 year-old iMac).

I tried them on right away, bounded up the stairs, and approached my wife like a crocodile snakes towards a baby duck, only friendlier. She noticed with much kittenish excitement (I love this "wavy arm" thing she does), and likes them a lot more.

Torley picked up style #18385 at Goggles4U and looks great (and happy!) in them.

DON'T hesitate. DO read the full story here.

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As we hopefully spend some time with our families, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for a great year of great stories and community.

Enjoy your holidays (and your glasses)!

Until the end of the year, 39 Dollar Glasses is running a $10 off any order campaign to aid people in using up their remaining flexible spending account money before the end of the year (more on that in a few days).

Don't need any more glasses just now? Order an extra pair of prescription sunglasses.

If you haven't tried 39 Dollar Glasses yet, this is it. Drop what you're doing, grab your prescription (you've got it stored on "Script Keeper" already, right? If not, click that button up above!), and make a quick order. You'll be thrilled with the results and the service. If you're not, let me know and I'll get in touch with them for you -- I know people. ;-)

This is a great time to get some great glasses at a GREAT price!

Notes: Discount price will appear as you approach the end of the shopping cart experience and offer expires on December 31st.

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I've ordered a few times from Optical4Less and have been happy with each purchase. Do I wish they got here sooner? Sure, but less than two weeks is still acceptable, especially when we're adding to the collection as opposed to waiting to be able to see again.

I ordered another pair of plastic frames as they tend to be a bit bolder and more stylish (look what this whole thing has done to me), and this pair seems more substantial than the last plastic frame I got from them. My wife, in all of her 20/15 glory, has wanted to get a pair of glasses for fashion purposes. I figured, if I order a second pair from Albert, I get free shipping. They practically ordered themselves at that point, especially considering all I needed to do was get her to sign off on a style.

You may notice a similarity. Yep, they're the same style in different colors. I got the 20% brown tint -- something I really grew to like from the first pair of photochromic lenses I ordered. Amazing how crisp everything feels and how much it reduces my eye fatigue. The only thing I'm bummed about is that I really prefer anti-glare (something else I've learned to love now that I can afford it) and I can't get tint with the anti-glare from Optical4Less.

All in all, I'm really happy with the purchase and Ang is enjoying hers for a change of pace.

Matt Haughey, of Metafilter fame has written a nice piece on his experiences in the low-cost, online eyeglasses realm.

A few quick snippets:

I purchased frames from four different companies mentioned on the GlassyEyes site and every pair showed up intact and the prescriptions all seemed identical.

I encourage anyone looking to save some money and get a bigger selection to search online. Glasses are no longer a scarce resource costing many hundreds of dollars, they can be as simple as buying a DVD or book online, and cost about the same.

Thanks for the mention Matt, and good luck with the glasses!

Take a gander at the full post here

For more photos, check out the GlassyEyes Flickr group.

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[Ed. Note: This post has been updated.]

Goggles4U has a 72-hour sale starting ending! Use code "Glasses" with this link for a 20% savings on their vast array of frame and lens options.

This is a 4X savings on the normal GlassyEyes discount.


The EyeBuyDirect folks are having some fun today. Hit the site and click the top banner. You'll be taken to a page to either log in or register. After that, you'll automatically get assigned one of the following prizes:

  • 20% off
  • $7 off
Check them out.

Albert has sent over a coupon code good for today for 15% off. I tested this one out and found you'll need to spend $50 to get the benefit of this, but he's got quite a few new styles available (and maybe you've been dying to get some photochromic lenses). Check them out and see if there is anything that suits you.

Add coupon code "Thanksgiving" at this link for 15% off.

Thanks Albert!

In an ongoing effort to identify the barriers to purchase, I'd love to get your responses to the following question:

What factors have contributed to not buying your eyeglasses online?

I contemplated a poll for this, but quickly realized that I probably don't fully understand enough of the reasons well enough to list them.

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One of my sons was home from school today and got to pull the winner of the free pair of glasses (up to $100!) from 39DollarGlasses out of the snowboarding helmet (it was the only hat I could find).

Congratulations Bill!

Many thanks to Beth, Larry and Melissa for sharing with us. I really appreciate it.

Please keep them coming. Everyone who submits will be eligible for future contests (including those who didn't win today).

Thanks again to our friends at 39DollarGlasses for helping out with the relaunch!

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There is still time to take a look and place your order for two pairs of glasses for the price of one over at EyeBuyDirect. The way it works is, there are a limited number of frames that you can choose for the second free pair. I found a few that I liked in this subset of frames, so if you're in the market they may have something that will work out nicely for you.

Head on over and check (click the banner at the top of the page for details).

I got four wonderful submissions. I'm still trying to figure out a fun way to choose the winner. It's going to involve one of my kids or our cat choosing the person to receive the $100 Glasses Prize from 39DollarGlasses!

Check back later this evening or tomorrow for details!

Keep submitting your stories and pictures and I'll keep adding them to the site!

[Ed. Note: This is #4 in the "Glasses Stories" series. Melissa is wearing, holding and supporting her eight pair of glasses from various online retailers.]

Months ago, my husband said "Hey! I saw a thing on boingboing today that might interest you." $25 and 3 weeks later, I had a great new pair of glasses from Goggles4U. I ordered another pair from 39 Dollar Glasses, and was just as happy. And for a while, that was enough. But the lure of perfect frames was strong. I now have 8 pairs of regular glasses and 2 pairs of sunglasses. Every time someone compliments me on my frames (and it happens often) I say "I bought them online." The person is usually interested and skeptical, so I explain, mention the low cost, and tell them about Ira's blog.

Thanks, Melissa!

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Our friend Roy at EyeBuyDirect has passed along a special advance
notice to a big event. Starting now, you can get access to this special offer HERE (there is a big banner at the top of the home page).

This is a BIG event! Now hit it!

[Ed. Note: This is #3 in the "Glasses Stories" series. Larry, a physicist and didgeridoo player, is wearing his new bi-focals from in this action shot.]

I got a new prescription on Oct. 25 and decided to shop around for glasses. I visited five local establishments with some trepidation, remembering the hassles and high prices I encountered the last time I got new specs. Only three out of five stores even had acceptable frames, and their prices ranged from $300 to more than $500.

Sure I could do better than that on the web, I came across Ira's site that had apparently been created to order especially for me just a few days previously. The prices were so good, I decided to treat myself to a pair of bifocals in flexible titanium frames from 39 Dollar Glasses. I received my glasses 8 days after I ordered them. I'm delighted with them! They are light, comfortable, and the prescription is bang on! The price with shipping and the discount coupon was only $136. Thanks Ira and 39 Dolllar Glasses!

The attached photo is me with new glasses and old didgeridoo.

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[Ed. Note: This is #2 in the "Glasses Stories" series. Bill is wearing his "SoHo" frame from in his publicity shot.]

"You grow up watching Star Trek, listening to Joy Division, and have a website and email address before most people could even spell Internet, and suddenly you have a reputation as a nerd. Dork. Geek. I've worn glasses since I was about 20 and they have become a part of my personality as a mystery writer. After wearing the same ones for years, the magic was gone. I found my next perfect pair via and Ira and I'm grateful that I can grab something groovy, something out of the ordinary and not have to break the bank."
Creator of the Denton Ward and Monty Crocetti mystery series

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The good people at 39DollarGlasses have popped for a big prize for a lucky contributor to the "Glasses Stories" section. Not only do you get the thrill and exposure of getting your face pasted on the busiest economically-focused-online-eyeglasses-blog on the planet and the ability to make a difference for the thousands of people who are contemplating this idea, you're also helping me out with some additional content -- and I APPRECIATE IT.

So, join Beth and send me your photos, or better yet post them to the GlassyEyes Flickr group and forward me the link along with your name, email address and your story (keep it around 500 characters if you can).

All entries must be in before November 10th -- the one-year anniversary of the blog entry that started this whole thing.

Enter early and often.

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[Ed. Note: This is #1 in the "Glasses Stories" series. Beth is wearing her new "Madrid" frame from]

There are several reasons I ordered, or more like a perfect storm of reasons. The main one is that I am one of the millions of Americans with no health insurance, thus it's vital for me to seek out alternatives to expensive vision care.

I'm an administrative assistant by trade. Although I much prefer to wear contacts, they don't work well for long hours of reading from a conference room screen.

For the record, I had a healthy dose of cynicism for the whole 'too good to be true cheap glasses' gig, but after seeing so much positive feedback, I figured what the heck, it was forty bucks, and I'd take my chances.

I haven't had new glasses in almost fifteen years, as my limited funds have always been earmarked for contacts. I couldn't be happier with the quality or the turnaround on the glasses I ordered.

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It's been a year since "the incident" that sent me careening into this world of "alt-eyeglasses". I figured apart from the much needed updating of the look and feel around here, I'd add a few new wrinkles and tools aimed at making all of this less confusing and more inviting.

New Feature Roundup
There are a number of new features I tossed in in hopes that you'd find them as useful as I have.

How It Works
I haven't done a very good job at aggregating the various "how-to" and definition postings into anything that a person could take a quick look at and move forward on. For people with more simple prescriptions and a broken pair of glasses on their desk, I think this will help get the ball rolling a bit more quickly.

The forums and retailer reviews have been around since day one, but the links were a bit difficult to find. No longer.

Script Keeper
This is an exciting one for me. I've lost my prescription a few times over the years and frankly, don't really see a need to carry it around in my wallet any longer. I built a simple little application that will allow you to keep your prescription handy wherever and whenever you feel the itch to order a pair. This one will show some additional features and improvements over the next few weeks.

Get The Word Out
Another new feature, this one is pretty simple. Send out the word to all of your farsighted and nearsighted friends. Let them know that you know the score and that they can too. This has been a highly requested feature and only takes a moment.

Glasses Stories
We've got the forums and the reviews, and we've even got the Flickr Group. But I thought it would be great to have a place for people to show off their new specs with a quick picture and a paragraph (try to keep it close to 500 characters) describing something interesting, fun or surprising about the experience of buying glasses online. Send them to Prizes will be awarded to get the ball rolling.

The remaining buttons couldn't be more obvious and I'm sure there are only a few of you who managed to claw your way all the way through this.

Anyway, I'm excited for the changes and hope that you continue to find this the go-to spot on the web for information regarding affordable eyeglasses online.



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