Ultra-compact Prescription Glasses

Introduction: Ultra-compact Prescription Glasses

I'm very mildly nearsighted, prescription -1.25. This is good enough that I don't need glasses most of the time, and bad enough that having glasses is sometimes pretty important: driving, rushing through an airport, out at a show, etc. I have a few pairs of normal-sized glasses with bulky cases. I've tried contact lenses (they don't agree with me). None of these options gave me the versatility I really wanted: glasses that I can keep in my pocket - off my face most of the time - and quickly take out whenever I need them. I've wanted glasses like this for years, but getting into backpacking finally prompted me to get some made. After seeing how expensive it is to build an ultralight kit, I realized this project was low-hanging fruit.

There seems to be a huge market for reading glasses just like this, but nothing for nearsighted people - so I figured I'd get them custom made. I bought a few different off-the-shelf pairs of reading glasses, and then I asked around at 5-6 different optometrists around town, to find someone who could replace the lenses with my prescription. I had very little luck. Eventually, I found an easy solution in https://lensesrx.com/. They did a great job, quickly and cheaply. Really, that's all there is to it, but I wanted to post this just to let others know that this is a really easy job, as long as you find the right company to do it.

I've had some strange responses when showing these off, so I understand it may not make sense for everyone, but they're perfect for me. They're also cheaper than any glasses you'll buy full-price in a shop.

Step 1: Buy the Tiniest Over-the-counter Reading Glasses You Can Find

I tried frames similar to both of these:



Just make sure they have glass lenses that aren't fused to the frame. For example, thinoptics makes some pretty neat compact glasses (https://www.thinoptics.com/), but the frame and lenses are a single piece of plastic, so the lenses aren't replaceable.

Step 2: Send Them in to Your Choice of Lens Replacement Service

I spoke with several local optometrists about getting this work done. All but one told me they couldn't do it. The last one said he was willing to try, but couldn't guarantee success, and it would cost $100+ just to try. Maybe professionals in your area are more flexible, but in my case I had no option but to try a mail-order service. The service I mentioned above did the job for $25 per frame. I sent them two frames to save on the shipping cost (and in case one of them didn't work out). After receiving the frames, they finished the work in two days and sent them back.

That's it! I know it's not exactly a DIY project, but I thought it was worth sharing.

Here's a comparison of the sizes:

normal glasses:

weight: 14.7 (glasses) + 118.8 (case) = 133.5g

case dimensions: 15x7.5x3.5

compact glasses:
weight: 13.6g (glasses) + 18.1g (case) = 31.7g (4x lighter)

case dimensions: 7.5x3.5x2cm (7x less bulky)

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    2 years ago on Step 2

    Some of the folding frames have an eyewire screw, that lets the frame open to accept the lens(see picture). THAT is the type of frame you should look for if you want a prescription put in it.
    The cheap frames without that screw...The shops were right to tell you no. AT BEST, it
    works, but the lens is loose in the frame. At worst, they have to break the current lens to
    get it out, and quite probably chipping or breaking a few trying to get the new lenses in. All while trying to not break your cheap frames(not a condemnation, just a fact).
    Add to that the fact that your minus lens has a thicker, and therefore less flexible, edge.

    If the frames came with a reading GLASS lens(direct from china?)... odds are pretty good
    it will have the screw, and be able to take a new lens.
    Not an endorsement of any particular company, but on amazon, look at Doubletake or Lanfu, for examples of frames that WON'T drive your optician crazy.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for the info! I don't mean to dispute any of that, all I can do is share my own experience. I've been using these frames for months, with no sign of loose lenses, damaged frames, or other problems. These lenses fit the frames better than some sets of glasses that I've received straight from an optician. The service I used to get these lenses fit and installed did not raise any issue with this job.

    The fact is, the ideal style of compact glasses for me is not available with a screw, as far as I have found. There just isn't another option - and there is at least one shop that can handle the work anyway.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I just looked again at your case dimensions...
    That is a SMALL frame ;-)
    The two pair of folders I have on hand, the glasses measure in at 80X40X25mm.
    The second pair(+200 instead of your -150) measures smaller (65X40X20mm) but the soft case is larger. Weight, with glass lenses and case is 45 grams, so pretty close.
    And I figured that THEY were tiny.
    Yours look to manage that by using telescoping instead of folding arms, and
    a straight temple tip (no curved tip for the mastoid process)

    I would say, you managed to find a good technician that was up to the challenge.
    A rare thing in the optical industry these days :-)

    There ARE companies that make "myopia cheaters". Much less common ( you likely won't find them at the drugstore), but they do exist and at a similar price to readers. And consider adding a pair of the "Polarized Myopia Glasses" to your amazon shopping cart. you may find, after a day of hiking, you were glad of the sharper vision, and lack of tired eyes/headache.
    Now, if your hiking kit has tooth brushes with most of the handle cut off to save weight...well, the weight trade off vs vision benefit will be a personal decision.
    My hiking/camping packs always had a pair of sunglasses, even when I didn't have a prescription. I'd rather shave the grams off something less critical to my comfort.

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