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Get Free Prescription Sunglasses!

Updated on February 9, 2018
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Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

Prescription Sunglasses For Sale at the Glasses Shop
Prescription Sunglasses For Sale at the Glasses Shop | Source

How I Got Prescription Cheap Sunglasses

Years ago, my employer at the time offered some sort of health savings program. Every month, a few dollars was added to a special account that could only be used for health expenses. At the end of the year, any money left in the account was lost.

I was young and healthy and had no health expenses. My health spending account had accumulated about $300. As the end of the year was approaching, I was walking in the mall and saw a sign encouraging people to spend their health savings before it was too late. This sign was in front of a glasses shop. Even though I already had glasses, I decided to consider getting a second pair. That would be better than losing the health account funds at the end of the year.

Inside, the sales person asked me if I had considered getting prescription sunglasses. I replied that I had not worn sunglasses since I was in high school. Back then, I had contact lenses and could wear regular sunglasses.

After I gave up wearing contact lenses, I tried a few cheap alternatives to prescription sunglasses.

Cheap Alternatives to Prescription Sunglasses

Since I liked wearing sunglasses and spent a lot of time outdoors, I tried to get sunglasses that would work with my glasses. I tried clip-on sunglasses that you can add to your glasses. These have metal clips coated in plastic that hold tinted lenses over the front of your glasses. I found these to be annoying to put on and take off, and they did not provide protection from sun coming in the sides.

I also tried on a pair of the large sunglasses that you can wear over the top of glasses. These felt heavy and clumsy to me so I ended up not buying them.

Why Not Try Free Prescription Sunglasses?

I thought prescription sunglasses were an interesting idea. Trying to add tinted lenses over the top of my glasses in various ways simply did not work well for me. I could keep my sunglasses in the car and wear them while driving if nothing else.

With the $300 in my health spending account, I was able to pick out any pair of sunglasses I wanted and get prescription tinted lenses with UV protection. I went with a nice pair of black Ray-Ban sunglasses with metal frames.

Now I Wear Prescription Sunglasses Almost Every Day

It turned out that I used my prescription sunglasses a lot. I wore them while driving almost every day. They were also great for playing with my kids in the yard, walking, and riding my bike.

It is a bit inconvenient to have two pairs of glasses to keep track of, but it sure is nice to be able to wear high quality sunglasses. I keep the prescription sunglasses in a storage compartment in the door of my car when I am not wearing them. That way they are always handy for driving, and I know where to find them when I want them for other activities.

Prescription Sunglasses- Pick Your Style
Prescription Sunglasses- Pick Your Style | Source

Advantages of Prescription Sunglasses Over Contacts

When I wore contact lenses for about a year, they were always uncomfortable in my eyes. Lenses have probably improved over the years since then, but there is still a constant expense with contact lenses of having to replace them. My Ray-Ban sunglasses lasted for over 10 years. They broke when I put them in my sandal so I wouldn't lose them while swimming- and I didn't notice them when I stepped down to walk away from the pool.

I would say that prescription sunglasses have the following advantages over wearing contact lenses with regular sunglasses:

  • More eye comfort
  • Lower overall cost- about $30 per year for prescription sunglasses

However, if you wear contact lenses, you can wear whatever sunglasses you want and could even have multiple pairs of cheap sunglasses. I'm going to count that as an advantage for prescription sunglasses- if you have a pair of good prescription sunglasses, you won't hurt your eyes wearing cheap sunglasses.

Cheap Sunglasses video by ZZ Top

How I Got My Second Pair of Prescription Sunglasses for Free

I definitely wanted to replace my broken prescription sunglasses since I used them so much. At the time, Mythbusters was a popular TV show, and I wanted a pair of sun goggles like Jamie Hyneman. He wore what looked like tinted safety glasses with full sun protection on the sides.

Wrap-around Columbia Prescription Sunglasses Block Light from the Sides
Wrap-around Columbia Prescription Sunglasses Block Light from the Sides | Source

I found a pair of black Columbia wrap-around sunglasses that had the same effect of blocking light from the sides.

It turned out that my employer had vision coverage that allows me to get a new pair of frames and lenses every two years. I had not needed a pair of glasses for a few years, and it turned out that prescription sunglasses were covered under the vision plan. So I got another free pair of prescription sunglasses!

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My Third Pair of Free Prescription Sunglasses

The plastic frames of my Columbia sunglasses eventually cracked a bit last year after about 10 years of use. I have super-glued them together in a few places, but the frames are forming more cracks. I am thinking about getting a new pair this spring. I haven't needed glasses for a few years, so I should be able to get a pair with my vision plan coverage. What will I get this time?

These May Be My Next Pair of Prescription Sunglasses...
These May Be My Next Pair of Prescription Sunglasses... | Source

I like the wrap-around style that blocks light from the sides. I also like the lightweight plastic frame of my current Columbia sunglasses. I want a fairly tight fit so my sunglasses don't fly off when biking or playing basketball.

Columbia sunglasses like this are still selling, so I could get a new pair that is similar to my current pair. There are several other brands of prescription sunglasses with plastic frames. One that caught my eye was called Bolle Aravis.

This time, I could get a more fun color than black since I would never wear sunglasses at a formal occasion. Maybe brown this time!

© 2014 Dr Penny Pincher


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