Eliminating the need for one of the most painstaking, time-consuming and relatively expensive processes, Lensabl makes lenses for any pair of glasses you own. Unlike other online spectacle and sunglasses retailers, there are no frames for sale here. This isn’t a style company—it’s a technologically-driven organization aimed at meeting a need for convenience. Buyers provide their own frames—ones they’ve loved for years but perhaps have lost or cracked a lens, or their prescription has changed. Or perhaps the local retailer wanted to charge four times the price for making lenses than Lensabl offers. At their state-of-the-art optical partner lab in Los Angeles, lenses—far, near, sun, clear, Transitions, photochromic—are cut to fit inside the frames they’ve sent in, using a prepaid box. A completed product is sent back. Contrary to one’s initial assumptions, this isn’t a company taking on Warby Parker. The model may be similar but frames and lenses are two different businesses. The latter is not only important, but also not offered as an independent service until now.
Lensabl co-founder and CEO Andy Bilinsky explains to us, “We aim to make it easier, better and cheaper for everybody—in a space that’s not been creative, ever. It’s been really expensive and really annoying. It shouldn’t have to be that way.” Bilinsky and his partner once had a style-oriented online eyewear brand. In the process of running that business, they realized not only that selling prescription lenses was mandatory but it could be a necessary and significant independent business. So many of their customers at that time asked about prescription lenses for frames they already had.
“As we began to conceptualize an idea around this, we wondered why this was happening or how these individuals were not being serviced beyond what we were doing for them,” he continues. He learned that most had no time to make an optometrist appointment or get to the nearest optical shop. They put off geting new glasses until scenarios arose where they ended up dropping $300, $400 or $500. Only two providers really dominate the industry offline, and Lensabl felt that a direct-to-consumer model could create a new market opportunity while offering a premium product.
“To be honest,” he adds, “getting new lenses is a very boring idea.” That said, for many it’s a necessity. In being brand agnostic and focusing on the lenses, they’re able to offer everything from gradient mirror and computer lenses to Transitions, including all the different varieties of thickness with all coating included. It’s almost fun in a personable, customizable way. Regarding size and shape, Lensabl has yet to encouter a frame that they could not cut a lens for.
Lensabl doesn’t plan on stopping there. Rather, they plan on rolling out an end-to-end optometry solution service, while integrating an online eye exam. The technology is already in place, and legal in 39 US states (every state has laws involving refractive exams and how they are administered). Here, Bilinsky makes clear that they aim to be “a true competitor to your optometrist.” They also have plans to open up an east coast or central US lab, in order to further reduce processing time.
“We are a straightforward, convenient and affordable solution, that’s the foundation of our business,” he concludes. “There’s also the sheer number of options that we offer at no extra cost. These lens options allow customers to customize their life.” He explains further that with the price of frames and lenses dropping, this sentiment translates to people buying multiple pairs of everything. With so many barriers removed, it definitely makes sense.
We went through the process of sending in old frames to get new lenses, and we were impressed with the simplicity of the process, the communication, and unexpected touches like a unique triangular eyeglass case.
Lenses from Lensabl cost $77. They’ve offered a discount code for CH readers, CH20, which yields a 20% discount.
Additional reporting by David Graver, images courtesy of Lensabl