How much should you pay for Eyeglasses?

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What is your eyesight worth these days? Mine is a priceless 20/20 when I visited a local shop that sold eyewear. I went in to see the resident optometrist because I spend all day in front of my laptop and get painful eyestrain accompanied by dull headaches for all my trouble. So, I sat there and got tested for any underlying problems.

When all the tests were done, she told me that my vision was perfect, but because of years of computer abuse, my eyes fatigue easily, bringing on the painful bouts of eyestrain and headaches. The options I had was to give my eyes a break from staring at the computer screen, which I obviously couldn’t, or get non-prescription glasses that had built-in anti reflective lenses to reduce the glare from the computer screen, which sounded like a wonderful idea.

Charm Schooled

The choice was mine, so she then handed me over to two of her beautiful assistants while she went to treat another client. I don’t know if that was a ploy to get me to buy branded, but it sure as hell worked like a charm. They charmed me into buying the most expensive transition lenses that lighten or darken (depending on sunlight) to go with the designer titanium frame.

I tried to fight the urge to go branded because I was only going to use the glasses in front of my computer, but I relented under the tremendous amount of cuteness in front of me. I coughed up $100 for the lens and another $200 for the frame (it was on sale), which is insane when you think about it because these aren’t prescription glasses! But, I have to admit that the frame I bought looks good on me and I actually look geeky chic. Too bad I fell for the oldest trick in the book (men are weak when double teamed).

One Company to rule them all

What I didn’t know when I was busy choosing from the many designer frames was that I really didn’t have a choice at all! The reason lenses and frames are so expensive is that almost every brand is manufactured by one Italian company, Luxottica. They control the manufacturing, supply and distribution of brands such as Oakley and Ray Ban, which they own, and luxury brands Prada, Gucci, Versace, Burberry, Paul Smith and a lot of other designer eyewear you see in stores and worn by Hollywood. They also control the prices because they own most of the retail stores, such as Lenscrafters, Sunglass Hut, Sears Optical and Target Optical.

If you’re an independent manufacturer and you don’t play by the rules, your brand won’t get sold in their stores. Oakley used to be independent, but sales had gone down after Luxottica-owned stores refused to carry the brand, which forced Oakley to sell the company to –you guessed it –Luxottica! The term “merger” was used a lot, but we all know what happened here. The result? Sky high prices of eye care items everywhere!

So, how much should you really pay for eyeglasses?

The current markup in stores owned and operated by the eyewear behemoth is about 20x what it cost to make a pair of regular frames, according to Business Insider. That’s a lot of money for an average frame, and even if you do buy a pair, you have to pay even more money for prescription lens. Thank goodness there are other alternatives to this optical illusion.

Going to a trusted optometrist who carries her own brands, but doesn’t necessarily want to sell you a pair, can be your best bet to save money. You can get a prescription from her, but tell her you’ll just get it online for a hell of a lot cheaper. Be honest. Don’t forget to ask for everything you need to make an online purchase, like pupillary distance, OD, OS and other pertinent information. I’m sure she’ll understand.

Final Word

Don’t get suckered into buying branded eyewear. It’s a total waste of your hard earned money. Take it from me. I never had to go out of the house wearing my $300 computer glasses, so the transitions add-on was pretty much rendered useless. You can get a pair of prescription glasses online for $40, maybe even less. Warby Parker sells cool looking eyeglasses starting at $95 and has an awesome eyewear donation program that gives glasses to those who need it most but can’t afford a pair. Be smart with your purchases. A little research can lead to a world of savings.