I'm a student, and my crappy student health plan doesn't cover vision. The problem is I need, in no particular order, new lenses for one pair of glasses, another pair, and a pair of prescription sunglasses. My criteria may, taken all together, be absurd, but I'm looking for: stylish frames, variety, and affordability. Someone told me about a guy named Louis Gaspari who's an optician in Lower Manhattan who sells glasses for something like $40, provided you pay in cash. I don't know if this is legit at all. Does Gothamist have any glasses purchasing advice? Lenscrafters wants $240 to replace my lenses, and I think that is absurd.

Ask Gothamist feels your pain! We are also optically challenged and want stylish glasses but can't afford spend big bucks on fancy frames. We do think $240 just to replace one set of lenses, not including new frames, is a bit steep - but we don't know the particulars about your prescription. You might be able to save some cash by not getting an extra pair of presciption sunglasses and just getting one pair of frames with transition lenses that get darker when exposed to sunlight. When our prescription changed recently and we realized we didn't have an extra pair of frames that we could wear while waiting for our replacement lenses, we opted to get contact lenses as a backup rather than an extra pair of glasses at $300. The contacts were only $99 (including an eye exam) for six pairs of disposable lenses that last two weeks each - so that may be an option for you.

We have not visisted Dr. Gaspari, but we called him to find out some info. He told us his prices were reasonable, and he's located at 198 Broadway between Fulton and John streets. However, we're unable to visit him to check out his selection due to his limited hours: 10 AM to 3 PM, Monday through Thursday only. Let us know how his selection is if you visit him, will you? Have any Ask Gothamist readers been to him? We've also had luck in the past getting reasonably priced glasses at Myoptics and For Eyes. They both have locations in the city; the latter is offering a coupon for two pairs for $99 (including lenses) on their website.

Last but not least, we visited our friend the Internet and did a search for "discount prescription glasses". We found a website called 39dollarglasses.com - a prair of frames with lenses starts at $39. We haven't used them before, so we're not vouching for them. Of course, you can't try the frames on before you buy them, which is one drawback, but they might be a good source for an extra pair of frames.

Got a question? Need advice? E-mail ask(at)gothamist.com.