The extremely and inexplicably exorbitant cost of eye glasses

Two years ago I got my first pair of real glasses, as opposed to simple pharmacy or dollar store readers.

I just got my eyes checked again; my prescription has changed and I need another pair. This will be covered by my employer, so I don’t care, but holy shit glasses are expensive.

I just got a quote at Costco, which I assume is a pretty decent deal. That’s where I bought my last pair.

The frames can range from about $80 to $140, but the lenses are $260. These are plastic lenses now, and I’ll bet they’re just punched out by a machine and finished by another machine.

$400 for a pair of glasses? I can buy a 40" HDTV now for about that amount! What the fuck is the deal with eye glasses?

You better sit down, Leaffan, I got a pair 8 months ago; the cost was $800! :eek: My VERY thick lenses cost more, plus they’re bi-focals, PLUS I got some special coating that darkens when you go outside in sunlight (think PhotoGray). It’s nice but JEEZ! And my wife insisted I get some kind of repair warranty.

Pardon the pun, it was eye opening.

Luxottica has a near monopoly on the eyeglasses market, owning basically every eyeglasses brand you’ve heard of*. They jack up the price of glasses by not offering any meaningful alternatives. There’s new web based eyeglasses companies that are trying to break the monopoly but not as many people know about them.

  • Prada, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, Bulgari, Vogue, Persol, Coach, DKNY, Rayban, Oakley, Sunglasses Hut, LensCrafters, Oliver Peoples, Pearle Vision, Target Optical, Sears Optical and more.

What all did you have done to the lenses?
This is why so many people recommend Zenni, among others.

I ordered a pair of Tifosi Mast with Drivewear lenses from Sport Rx and those were only 280 even though the Rx is applied to the entire curved lens.

Progressive lens with anti-scratch coating. C’est tout.

They probably did digital surfacing which is very expensive. Supposed to be much more accurate.

There was a 60 minutes report on this a couple years back. Not sure if their videos are available online, but I thought it was interesting.

My glasses cost about $410. Nothing fancy with the prescription, scratch and glare proof I think.

I can’t see without them. Can’t function at all. Even if I need a new pair in a year, I’ve paid just over $1 a day to be able to function. My last pair lasted 5 years and I didn’t really need to get a new pair I was just tired of the style. So they were like 30 cents a day to be able to function.

If you don’t need your glasses every moment you’re awake then it probably is less of a value. And if you need new lenses frequently (I did for a while when I first got glasses, about once a year) it’s less of a value.

But for some folks it’s not too bad of a deal. I don’t know how much of the glasses market is like me though.

Not too bad of a deal? We’re talking about a wire frame with two molded pieces of plastic inserted. And it looks like about half the world population buys the damned things!

And compare a wire frame and two pieces of molded plastic to the complexity of an HDTV.

It boggles the mind!

But without your glasses, you can’t see your HDTV. :smiley:

Honestly, with the world wide volume of glasses being sold, they should cost about 20 or 30 bucks. I got by with dollar store glasses for years: literally a dollar.

I know the frames were shit and the lenses were cheap, but if one can get by on a pair of glasses for a dollar why the hell should the next entry cost hundreds of dollars?

Amazing such simple materials can be so important to ones ability to live life.

Pig heart valves are just tiny bits of offal. You’d be surprised at how much people pay for those!

I buy my glasses online, and don’t pay anywhere near that much money, but I also don’t have progressive lenses. I’d bet that a good bit of the cost is due to that.

With progressives you need to line up the reading spot on the glasses perfectly with the spacing between the customer’s eyes. Progressives go from a small reading spot in the bottom centre and fade back to your distance measurement.

But it still ain’t the price of an HDTV!

Digital surfacing? Ooookaay… Do they offer analog?

Last pair of glasses my Wife bought where $600 or so. I don’t get it. And why is it a pair of glasses? You don’t get two. Same goes with a pair of pants. I’ve never purchased a pair of shirts. “My pair of shirts don’t fit very well”.

But I digress…

Ok. Well, at 48 years old, I started needing reading glasses on top of wearing contact lenses. I’ve been wearing glasses since 3rd grade. About 1968.

That hurt to say. 1968. Last century.

Anyway, to hell with that, I’m not going to deal with contacts/glasses AND reading glasses, so I did the LASIK thing. That was ohhh 7 years ago. Best investment I’ve made in a long time.

Weird really. LASER SURGERY ON YOUR EYBALLS is not that much more expensive than a pair of glasses.

Now, if SOMEBODY would please do something in the field of tinnitus, I could be a happy fellow.

The TV company builds tens of thousands of HDTV every one exactly alike.
The eyeglass company builds tens of thousands eyeglasses everyone of them different from the others.

I spent $40 in Hong Kong for the last pair I owned before LASIK.

Leaffan, my last pair of glasses cost $700 out-of-pocket. My last tooth extraction cost $750.

I guess I should buy insurance.

Four years ago I bought a pair of eyeglasses in China for $25, including exam, frames, lenses, everything. The lenses were cut by machine in about 5 minutes right in front of me.

No problem with the frames, and the lenses have never scratched.
The quality is the same as the glasses I used to buy in America for $300 to $400.

$25 is probably close to the true wholesale cost of most eyeglasses.

I normally don’t like going for the cheap Chinese alternative when I can support a local business, but my glasses I’m wearing now are the best glasses I’ve ever owned and they run me $11.95 a pair plus $5 shipping (per order, not per pair) from Zenni. An equivelant pair from Lenscrafters or whatever would probably run $300-400 and wouldn’t be any better. Polished half rims, memory titanium, dead on prescription, the whole deal. This particular frame has a very thin nose bridge (a design flaw and not a workmanship/material one) and tends to snap after about a year, and I occasionally otherwise damage glasses, so I just buy them in batches. 4 pairs costs me about $50. They do take about 2 weeks to arrive.

You could get a range of add-ons for a few bucks. Make them sunglasses (or fashion shade them), anti-glare coatings, even the transitions-style light reacting lenses for like $30.

My prescription is very simple, but adding something like progressive bifocals adds something like $30-60 to the cost IIRC.

You’ll need to measure your pupillary distance, which is not typically written on a prescription, but you can ask for it - or you can have a friend measure yours with a ruler.