About Us

Photographed by Thomas | © 2017 TK Photography | www.tkphotographychicago.com
Photographed by Thomas | © 2017 TK Photography | www.tkphotographychicago.com
Photographed by Thomas | © 2017 TK Photography | www.tkphotographychicago.com
<< >>

Spectacular Specs

Since 1998, Eye Spy Optical has been providing unique, handmade eyewear, and expert guidance in a living-room atmosphere. We specialize in outfitting customers with specs that are a bit out-of-the-ordinary, frequently placing custom orders for the *perfect* frame. You deserve it! Even though we are located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, we see customers from all over the globe!

Eye Spy has ABO-certified opticians in-house that are brutally honest in telling you how each pair of glasses looks on your face…and how your prescription will look in your simply spectacular specs. As a result, Eye Spy was voted “Best Eyewear Shop” by the Chicago Reader in 2019 & 2009 and NewCity Magazine in 1999, 2006 & 2011!

Boys make passes at girls who wear glasses.


Alissa Fields – ABOC, Queen of Specs

glasses wardrobe: 48 pairs + 12 suns

A lover of live music, photography, travel, home-grown veggies and home-made ice cream, Alissa is raising two kids and running a small business, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else! Alissa’s kids are also avid collectors of eyewear:-) Her 13 year old has 5 pairs and her 18 year old has 4 pairs of spectacular specs. After school, you can find her 13 yo hanging out at Eye Spy Optical, trying to earn their keep.

Angela Gronroos – ABOC, Frame Whisperer

glasses wardrobe: 9 glasses + 3 sunglasses

Angela has been a certified optician since 2015, and enjoys creating bonds with customers while sussing out the perfect pair of glasses to fit their prescription and personality. She is a dancer by training, and in her free time, she does metalsmithing at Lill Street Art Center. Angela hails from Alaska and is always planning her next trip to visit family & friends around the globe!

Chastity Jackson – Opticianista

glasses wardrobe: 5 pairs + 4 suns

Meet our Opticianista, Chastity or CJ! Chastity has been working in fashion retail since she was 16. She has a great sense of style, and designs and makes her own jewelry!! CJ recently became vegan, so we have been swapping recipes…as well as sharing stories, and learning all about optics. As a teen, CJ dreamed about being a superstar…singing, dancing and rapping…but in the meantime, she is honing her optical skills and picking out spectacular specs for our fabulous customers!!

Emma Quinn – ABOC, Specs Shark

glasses wardrobe: 13 pairs + 3 sun

Emma has worked in optical for the past 5 years. Besides being an ABO Certified Optician, Emma previously worked with vintage clothing…so she has a great eye for style and color! Emma is working towards a Master’s in Writing & Publishing while working at Eye Spy part-time. If she were in an earthquake, she would save her two cats…and her Nintendo Switch, of course. She is passionate about the conservation of natural resources, just like The Queen of Specs, and, most importantly, Emma loves crème brûlée;-)


Born in 1998. The Rest is History.

Eye Spy Optical came into being after many fruitless searches for red and purple glasses. Realizing that there was a lack of fun, colorful and funky glasses in Chicago, Alissa (a.k.a the Queen of Specs) decided that the folks in Chicago deserve glasses that have some personality!

Since Alissa was a kid, she wanted to start her own business. She had lemonade stands, worked in retail starting at 4 years old in her grandparents’ lamp store and earned an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Alissa’s parents’ design background guided her interests towards well-designed and beautiful objects. The Queen of Specs wore glasses since the age of 12, and always helped her friends pick out their specs. One day, it finally dawned on her … she would love to have an eyeglass shop and fit people with spectacular specs.

So, the path was decided, but first the Queen of Specs needed some optical experience. Living in Louisville, KY, Alissa had a full-time job, but worked evenings and weekends at an optical shop to learn all she could. At the same time, she began to study for the national opticianry exam and to write her business plan. Obviously, the Queen of Specs was single and had plenty of time on her hands!

As Alissa was applying for a volunteer trip to provide eyeglasses to the under-served, everything came together. She was approved for a loan backed by the SBA and signed a lease for our current space in Lakeview! What a relief. The volunteer trip was rewarding, a ton of work and great preparation for opening Eye Spy Optical.

When the trip was over, the Queen of Specs came back to Chicago to start Eye Spy Optical. That was in August of 1998! Over the past 24 years at Eye Spy Optical, we have stuck to our vision (no pun intended!) of providing custom, colorful, handmade eyewear & sunwear and expert guidance in a living-room atmosphere

An Eye-Opening Experience

We pride ourselves in outfitting customers with frames that are bit out-of-the-ordinary. Many of our customers say that they are surprised at what eyeglasses we choose for them. We always hear how much our customers love their new glasses, how many compliments they receive, how much fun they had picking out frames…and how they will return to Eye Spy again and again!

We stock frames in every color of the rainbow, and sell more red and blue glasses than black glasses. We also do a ton of special orders, so if you are looking for something specific or more sedate, we can help you find it. We have spectacular specs and shades for men, women and kids.

At the end of the day, we want to make sure that our customers can see well, look fabulous, and feel great in their glasses. How do we achieve this?

Eye Spy Optical offers personalized fittings, “Try-before-you-buy” digital photos of you in your glasses, expert advice, comprehensive eye exams and contact lens fittings, and honest opinions…about anything and everything!! If you let us guide you and listen to our opinions, it will be easy to decide on your new pair of simply spectacular specs. We promise.

Besides looking fabulous, we want you to feel comfortable in your glasses. We offer the latest and greatest in free-form thin lenses, digital progressive lens design, anti-reflective coating, polarized sun lenses and any tint imaginable. Why compromise on lenses in a spectacular frame?

At Eye Spy Optical, we enjoy helping you find the perfect pair of specs that you will want to wear in public. And who knows, you might actually pitch your contacts! So, grab a cup of coffee and smiley-face cookie from Dinkel’s across the street, and get ready for an eye-opening experience!

Eye Spy the Difference

What makes Eye Spy different from all the other shops in Chicago…and the U.S. for that matter? Three things: our frames, our lenses, and our service.

Our Frames:

All of our frames are handmade and designed by small independent companies, most family-owned. These designers create new styles and colors throughout the year, similar to the fashion industry. As a result, the styles are timeless, different, and unique…as well as durable and comfortable. We travel to New York and Paris (poor us!) every year to the optical trade shows. When we see a new line we like, we look at it for a couple of years to see how the designs evolve. If we love it, you will see it in the store!

Our Lenses:

There are thousands of lens designs on the market, and we only use the very best. We do not like to compromise our customers’ vision. We have many customers that come to us specifically for our lenses. When digital and free-form lenses were introduced to the market, we immediately learned all about these lenses and continue to learn. We have been fitting our customers with the newest lenses on the market over the past few years and have received great responses. Why would you buy old technology to put in a beautiful new frame?

Our Service:

What can I say? We go the extra mile. We have customers that keep their glasses for 8 years…others that get a new pair every 3 months. We do not care how often you come into Eye Spy. We treat everyone as a valued customer. If your frame breaks, we can order the parts that you need. We pick out each pair for you to try-on and tell you if it looks good or not. We don’t lie. We want you to look incredible. Really. Come in and find out!

We Love to Hug Trees

When WTTW was looking for tree-hugger for a “Green” segment on Chicago Tonight, they called the Queen of Specs! So, as you can imagine, we have instilled green practices at Eye Spy Optical from day-one.

From printing on the back-sides of used paper; giving used packing materials to neighborhood business; emailing receipts; online order-entry systems; reusing dishes, cups, and silverware; urging vendors to reduce packaging, shipments, paper invoices & faxes; reducing, reusing, recycling & composting; purchasing used furniture, fixtures & office equipment; using cloth towels instead of paper; installing an extra pane of glass, insulation & LED bulbs in our storefront and installing CFL bulbs in-store, we tend to go a bit over-board in our desire to lessen our impact on the planet.

Did we miss anything? Let us know!


Why are your frames so special?


The short answer is: all of our frames are handmade in small factories in France, Germany, and Japan. Each frame takes weeks to make and is designed by a frame designer, exclusive to each line. The materials and construction of each frame is on the cutting edge, as new technologies are continually being introduced.

Can I bring in my own prescription?


Of course…we accept prescriptions from other doctors as long as they are not expired. In the state of Illinois, prescriptions are valid for one year, unless the doctor states otherwise. If you have been seeing your eye doc for a long time, s/he might write an eyeglass prescription that is valid for 2 years, but contact lens prescriptions always expire after one year.

What can I do with my old frames?


If they are in wearable condition, bring them to Eye Spy Optical and we will send them to New Eyes for the Needy. This organization distributes old glasses to people in other countries that cannot afford to purchase prescription glasses. If you would like to ship them, the address is:

New Eyes for the Needy 549 Millburn Avenue PO Box 332 Short Hills, NJ 07078

What is the difference between polycarbonate and Trivex?


These two materials are impact-resistant, but polycarbonate is an older material of lower visual quality that scratches easily.

We use Trivex because the optics are superior, and scratches so minimally that our lab warranties the lenses for two years, and will remake it an unlimited amount of times….but it is rare that we have had to remake a Trivex lens even once! We always recommend Trivex for kids’ frames, safety glasses, rimless and semi-rimless frames….and it is the material we use most often because if its durability.

Do you take insurance?


We do not take insurance, but many of our customers use flexible spending accounts to pay for their glasses. Additionally, some carriers will reimburse for purchases made at out-of-network providers…just ask them!

Do you offer warranties on the frames and lenses?


All of our frames are guaranteed for at least a year against manufacturer defects, at no charge, as long as our lab puts the lenses in your frame. Lens warranties vary from one to two years, depending on the lens treatments. Our anti-reflective coatings are warranted for two years, at no charge, against scratches and defects.

Can I buy the frame only?


You may buy the frame only, but there are 3 things to be aware of:

  1. We cannot honor the 1 year manufacturer warranty
  2. Many of our frames have unusual construction and most labs are unable to cut lenses for the frames
  3. Your lenses may not look good or be as functional

What are the benefits of the new progressive lenses?


In short, new free-form progressive lenses decrease periphery distortion and increase the 3 viewing areas. We have access to every lens on the market, and are proud to offer the Hoya ID lenses that are surfaced on both sides. We highly recommend these lenses to the following customers: engineers, artists, designers, and other visually-oriented people. Free-form lenses are also great lenses for you if you have a strong distance prescription or a large astigmatism correction. Finally, first-time progressive wearers have an easier time adapting to these lenses verses traditional progressive lenses.

How should I take care of my lenses?


Clean your lenses daily using the lens cleaning solution supplied by Eye Spy Optical (stop by anytime for a free refill!). If you don’t have any lens cleaning solution nearby, use warm water and mild soap with no additives. Always dry your lenses with a lens cleaning cloth. NEVER use paper products. When your lens cleaning cloth starts to look dirty, go ahead and toss it in the washer and dryer. Do not use fabric softeners. Cleaning your lenses when they’re dry is like rubbing sandpaper on the lenses-don’t do it! Avoid getting chemicals on the lenses. These include hairspray, cologne, perfume, ammonia, bleach or household cleaners. Also, avoid exposing your frames and lenses to high heat (e.g. saunas, automobiles, hair dryers, etc.) Do not leave your glasses face down when they are not in their case. If you don’t have your lens cleaning cloth with you, get the lenses wet with some warm water and clean them with a fabric that is 100% cotton. Whew!

What is a manufacturer defect?


A manufacturer defect is when the frame sustains damages through no fault of your own. If you sit on your frame, or treat it poorly and it breaks, this is not a manufacturer defect. If you take good care of your frame and for some unknown reason, the temple breaks, this is probably a defect. If your frame does have a defect, we send it into the manufacturer for repair or replacement. This process can take up to 6 weeks and there is no charge for replacement, if it is deemed to be defective. If the frame is not defective, replacement parts can be ordered for most frames for a portion of the frame cost.

Can I bring in my own frame?


Yes, but we need to see the frame to make sure it is in good condition, and will be able to handle the stress of insertion and removal of lenses. We are not responsible for damage or breakage of the frame while it is at our lab or in our possession.

What are the differences between your lenses and the lenses at other stores?


Chain stores have a very limited selection of materials and lens designs. If you have a difficult prescription, you might have problems adapting to your new glasses….or your prescription might end up looking bad in your frames. Boo, hoo. We have access to every lens design and material on the market, so we choose the best lens design and material for your frame and your prescription…so your frames will look great and you can see perfectly!

How long does it take to get lenses made?


It takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the prescription, frame, material, and lens design. We can give you a more accurate estimate when you have a frame selected and a current prescription.

Why don’t you take insurance?


Because Eye Spy Optical is optician-owned and not doctor-owner, we cannot take insurance. In addition, the lines that we carry are small lines, with limited production. The designers prefer that we sell their frames at a suggested retail price. Some places that take insurance, mark-up their products in order to give insurance discounts. Some places dispense inferior lenses in order to make-up lost profit. We prefer to reward our frequent customers with discounts, and to put all of our customers in superior products. Our customers deserve the best.