Cheap eyewear and sunglasses in Toronto don't necessarily mean skimping on quality - though, as with anything involving your eyes, you want to exercise some caution. Still, there's often a good deal of markup at play in the optical world (especially where mass-produced Luxottica frames are involved) - and if you know where to go, you might be able to get good service and a cute, well-made pair of specs at a discount.
Here's a round-up of where to buy cheap eyewear and sunglasses in Toronto.
The Best Sunglasses in Toronto
The Best Eyeglasses in Toronto
This shop at College and Augusta, headed up by optician Andrew Laderman, deals mostly in high-end brands from around the world - but as a way to compete with the cheap guys, he's begun offering deadstock vintage frames, with lenses, for a bargain $100. Not only will your lenses be made with care, but you'll sport something no one else in town has (bonus).
Optical Thirty 8
Designer sunglasses are a big draw at this optical chain, which includes a location on Queen West, but you can also grab a pair for $38 (hence the name), or a package deal with five lens coatings for as low as $88. They have a licensed optometrist on-site, and you can save $100 on your specs if you get an eye exam there.
The Toronto-based LF Optical chain maintains a discount depot in a strip mall in North York, where you can get last season's brand-name frames at a discount - some for around $100, though they can go as high as $400.
The online eyewear giant's pop-up shop has stuck around on Queen West, so you can still try on all those plastic cat-eye frames you've been coveting in person. You can get prescriptions from their on-site optometrist - and the brick-and-mortar store has a licensed optician on staff, unlike buying online (a major drawback to the current boom of online eyewear stores).
This Bloor and Lansdowne optician's shop lives up to the name. It ain't much to look at, but their opticians and optometrists don't skimp on the service, and the savings are solid - glasses are as low as $180 for a complete pair with basic, single-vision lenses.
This Chinatown shop has earned some loyal customers over the years thanks to friendly, knowledgeable service from owner Kim, as well as some ultra-low pricing - complete pairs of glasses can go as low as $80. (Insert joke about plastic emo glasses here.)
Mega Save Optical
Mega Save is a long-standing family-run shop located a block or so from Jane station. If you're operating on a super-tight budget, they maintain a section where you can grab a complete pair of glasses, all-in, for about $45.
Located in the Rosedale Medical Centre, this neighbourhood-oriented optical shop strikes a balance between brand names and cheaper frame options. (Bonus: They also do some of the most inexpensive eye exams around.)
Specs and Specs
A Queen West favourite for decades (still managing to hold its own despite the arrival of Clearly down the street), Specs and Specs is known for offering deals on boutique eyewear frames that sell for as much as $200 elsewhere. If there's a designer pair you've been lusting after, check if they have 'em here first.
This Yonge and College shop walks the line between low-budget and high quality, offering some competitive pricing on designer frames - frames range from $80 to $200, plus lenses - while still having two optometrists and three opticians on staff.
A quick disclaimer: Some cheaper shops tend to cut corners by not employing licensed opticians, meaning the tradeoff for that low price is running the risk of not having your prescription filled accurately. As awesome as that new pair of glasses might make you look, they're also a medical device - do your homework before buying.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite Toronto stores for cheap eyewear and sunglasses in the comments.
Photo of 312 Optical by James C. Lee.
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