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You can imagine my surprise the day that I discovered, aged six and thanks to my new NHS specs, that grass wasn’t a green carpet, but actually composed of individual blades.

Since then I have worn corrective eyewear every day of my life. Whether glasses, gas-permeable contacts (the horror), daily disposables or prescription diving masks, there has never been a moment when I haven’t looked at the world through a lens.

And the money. God the money I – and my long suffering parents – spent on my vision. With a myopia prescription hovering around -8 my lenses cost money. Serious, serious money. Even on a good salary, and with the cheap frames available now, to get lenses that don’t look the bottom of milk bottles costs over £250.

So imagine my relief when I discovered New York-based eyewear company Warby Parker. They believe that prescription eyewear simply should not cost $300+; a result of an  industry is controlled by a few large companies that have kept prices artificially high.

They charge $95 for frames AND lenses. And they are frames you’d want to wear. The vintage-inspired,  fashion forward frames, use custom acetates and materials and every pair is custom fitted with anti-reflective, polycarbonate prescription lenses. They’ll even send out sample frames by mail for customers to try before they buy.

BUT

there’s another reason why this company deserves to succeed. Following in the footsteps of philanthropic businesses like Masala Masala*, who give a hot meal in India for every jar of stir-in sauce sold, and TOM’s shoes who give a pair to a child in need for every pair sold, the guys at Warby Parker believe that everyone has the right to see.

So they have partnered with renowned non-profits, such as RestoringVision.org, to deliver one pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that they sell. Really, I cannot see a reason not to buy your glasses from Warby Parker.

www.warbyparker.com

*Founder Priya Lakhani is here at TEDWomen too.

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14 comments

Reply

Oh, how I feel your pain. My eyes are also pretty stable now at -8.00, with a bit of astigmatism thrown in for good measure.

Early last year, I developed GPC, a disorder which means contact lenses are very uncomfortable and cloud my vision. After over 10 years of non-stop contact wear, this was very upsetting. The transition to glasses has been okay. I’ve branched out into Oliver Peoples and Alexander McQueen frames, and found that purchasing overseas in SE Asia is more cost effective than Australia, where prices are similarly exorbitant to those you describe above.

I love the concept behind Warby Parker – how fabulous to be able to improve someone else’s vision as well as your own. Pity they don’t post to Australia!

All the best,
Poppy xox

Reply

these glasses look great. thanks for this. i’m really excited.
-8!
wow

Reply

They look awesome! This is really good.
I wear glasses as well, and I’m always bummed when I have to get a new pair because they are SO expensive. Now that i come to think about it, I think my brother might have a pair of warby parker. They are very fashionable

Reply

I found out about WP a few months ago, the frames are beautiful! Didn’t know about the philanthropy though, very impressed. Last time I checked they didn’t post outside the US but word has it they’re working on it.

Reply

I feel like your blog is magically connected to my life. Considering the fact that I stepped on my glasses and broke them last night this looks absolutely perfect. I do love to combine my shopping with philanthropy.

Reply

This is super! As a fellow -8 (plus astigmatism), I feel the pain of stupidly expensive glasses.

Reply

Oh darn it all! I just had to buy a new pair of glasses last week, and wish I would have known about Warby Parker then!! I will tell my wallet to take solace in the fact that I will donate my old ones, and that next time I will place my order through Warby Parker. Thanks, dear LLG, for the info!

Reply

Finally someone who knows how it feels! I am twenty two and my prescription has changed to -10, after having declining eyesight since being a child. Fingers crossed it doesn’t get worse. People don’t realise its a necessity to get your lenses thinned out! and how hard it is to pick frames that will look right! I wish these were available in the UK!

Reply

The only prob is that they don’t ship to the UK but once you get over that hurdle they are great. They get dirty quickly but what do you expect for $95!

My boy looks ever so dashing in his. Next time it’s my turn!

Reply

We could do with somewhere like this in England.

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