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The 7 Best Eyeglass Shops In Chicago

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 26, 2014 8:20PM

Whoever came up with the saying "boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" obviously never saw Donna Reed as an old maid in "It's a Wonderful Life." Sometimes a good pair of glasses can frame a face perfectly and make you look youthful yet erudite.

But where to find an eyeglass shop that will help you make an informed decision? That's where we enter the fray. As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear this week, we offer seven picks for the best places to get eyeglasses, contacts or even dive into corrective surgery to remedy everything from astigmatism to cataracts. As always, debate, dissect and discuss these choices, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

Custom Eyes (Photo via Custom Eyes' Facebook page.)

Custom Eyes
Unfortunately for modern four-eyes, many boutique eyewear shops, impossibly cool though their frames may be, don’t take insurance. Enter Custom Eyes, who do. Insurance won’t cover all the bells and whistles (anti-glare, UV protection, what have you), but you won’t regret the out-of-pocket costs. Once the harmless eye exam is complete by one of Custom Eyes’ doctor/owners, genial specialists guide you through their solid selection, taking a close look at your facial structure and your vibe to match you with the glasses of your dreams. They know what’s new, what’s hip, and what’s overwrought, and they won’t dare put you in that predicament. You will walk away with the coolest glasses anyone has ever seen because they’ll look as if they were especially built just for you. — Kristine Sherred

Custom Eyes is located at 134 N. LaSalle St., 2110 W. Roscoe St. and 3539 N. Southport Ave.

Capture The Road Presents: An Eye Spy Optical Film from Chris Hershman on Vimeo.

Eye Spy Optical
If you're looking for an honest assessment on whether you should emulate Buddy Holly, John Lennon or some evangelist preacher with your specs, this popular Lakeview shop will set you straight with American Board of Optometry-certified opticians who don't hold their opinions on the types of frames that best fit your face or if you should opt for contact lenses. Alissa Fields and her team carry a wide array of custom-made frames from smaller producers, offer personalized fittings and digital photos so you can see how the frames fit your face, and provide eye exams and customer service in the process. If you're in the market for some new glasses, check out their trunk show Nov. 29 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. —Chuck Sudo

Eye Spy Optical is located at 3350 N. Lincoln Ave.

Eye Want
Many of us feel that Wicker Park has seen its prime. While it’s no longer that kooky, artsy neighborhood that I found so edgy as a teenager, there are still a couple little shops that still exude that aloof swank. One of those is the iconic eye glass shop Eye Want. Owner Annette Sollars has cultivated a beautiful collection of eyewear ranging from smart and professional frames to unique statement pieces. One glance at your personal style and facial shape and she’ll dig up your ideal set of glasses. In addition to the gallery of frames, Eye Want also hosts risque art exhibitions and has the best window displays, especially this time of year. Next time you’re looking for that optimal set of specs, look for the set of cat eye frames overlooking Milwaukee Avenue. — Erika Kubick

Eye Want is located at 1431 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Red Eye
Red Eye won my future business through excellent customer service even when they didn’t have anything to immediately gain from it. I went in to have a pair of eyeglasses I ordered online adjusted and they helped me out in a flash at no charge. The staff was so friendly and eager to please that I found myself doing a little digging. Most other places I’ve frequented in the past couple of years seem so focused on short-sighted up selling that they’ve forgotten that good service is more valuable commodity when looking at long term profitability. — Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Red Eye is located at 1869 N. Damen Ave.

I’ve been a part of the bespectacled masses since I started squinting to make out the words on the chalkboard in second grade. After a series of unfortunate styles and shapes of frames in childhood, I abandoned glasses for contacts as soon as possible, only sliding on my frames in the privacy of my own home. Yet as I’ve gotten older, the urge to have a stylish, comfortable and functional pair of glasses has grown stronger over the years, and thankfully SEE was able to take my hand, ease my dubious mind and offer up a pair of frames I now adore. SEE prides themselves on offering up quirky styles and quality craftsmanship. Their staff was friendly and helpful, giving their honest opinion on when a style didn’t compliment me and handing over frame after frame that would suit me the best. Yes, the price tag was a bit higher than most of my usual purchases as a frugal person, but this was an investment. And one well worth it too, I’ve had the same frames for over three years now and I’ve had no problems at all, my glasses are as good as new. For great customer service serving up durable and stylish eyewear, SEE is the place I see in Chicago. — Lisa White

SEE has three locations in Chicago and one in Skokie.

Midwest Eye Care
This West Lawn shop is popular with local photography buffs for its bespectacled, Paul Bunyanesque Indian on the roof with a sign that reads "Eye Can See Now." Step inside and there's a combination of old school charm and modern technology. Midwest Eye Care provides everything from fittings and general ophthalmology to LASIK and cataract surgery. —Chuck Sudo

Midwest Eye Care is located at 6524 S. Pulaski Rd.

Labrabbit Optics from Studio 272 on Vimeo.

Labrabbit Optics
If you want a pair of glasses that are truly unique, more a work of art and style statement, stop by Labrabbit Optics and visit owner Coyote DeGroot and his handpicked selection of frames. This isn’t your generic eyeglass store, Labrabbit specializes in vintage and small independent frame manufacturers, and offers one of the most unique selections in Chicago. Odds are if you buy frames from Labrabbit, you’ll not only have some of the more stylish frames in the city but likely a one of a kind (or at least a few) pair. DeGroot isn’t just selling a product but truly cares about his craft and art, making sure to stock the true creme de la creme of the eyewear world. If you just need some cool shades, his selection of sunglasses are truly stunning as well. Not surprisingly, the shop itself gives off more art gallery cool than Lenscrafters vibe. A variety of art installations take over the front window and vinyl is on rotation while you shop. They don’t offer eye exams, so make sure to have your prescription in hand, then stop in and select your specialty statement piece to compliment your personal charm and style. — Lisa White

Labrabbit Optics is located at 1104 N. Ashland Ave.