Eyeglasses — A response to “Stephanie”, an Optometrist

November 10, 2006

Thanks for swinging by. This post, the conversation, and research have shifted to GlassyEyes.com. Join us for in-depth recommendations and horror stories. It seems that quite a few people are looking for alternatives to over-priced eyewear.


Regarding the post: Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers, I got a nice message from “Stephanie”, an optician with some concerns.

You stated that you are an informed shopper; however, perhaps not informed enough. You were originally interested in Silhouette frames. As an optician, I can assure you that you get what you pay for. In our store, we will only carry Silhouette rimless frames because they are FAR superior to any other rimless system that is currently produced.

That may be true. I would have loved a pair of Silhouettes, but they’re not realistic for most people.

They are made of hyperflex titanium (5X stronger than beta titanium). In addition, they have no screws, require very little adjustment and weigh less than 1 ounce.

Not sure what you’re saying here, but these weigh in at .4 oz (with the lenses) — half the weight of all of the other eyeglasses of the people in my office. So weight is certainly not a big check mark on the Silhouette ledger over these.

They are also the leader in rimless frames and are the first to come out with new technology. Our mark up on frames is no where near 1000% as you stated.

That’s all fine and good, but my face is not going to be pressed into service for NASA. I’m going to wear my glasses during the day, and take them off at night. The additional flexibility and strength of these likely “beta titanium” (a new term for me — thanks!) frames should be just fine, and I’ll be able to afford Christmas presents for the kids this year, and maybe buy the firewood for the winter.

You may be able to find a silhouette frame a little cheaper online but you are also forfeiting correct measurements and the service provided (future repairs and adjustments, complimentary ultrasonic cleanings, etc).

I wonder how many people you sell on ultrasonic cleanings. In theory it sounds like a good idea, but I think $320 is a bit much for an extended service plan.

Stores also have more overhead (salaries for qualified and experienced opticians, ulitity bills, etc) so you are paying for more than just the frame…you are paying for the overall service.

I can appreciate that. That’s the reason I’ve gone to the same opthalmologist for the past 25 years. I want a qualified person checking my eyes — after that it’s numbers on a card and money-grubbing.

Also, let’s not forget that by patronizing local stores, you are helping the local economy. I would gladly pay just a little extra to support my community.

Don’t start with the shop locally argument. I shop locally as often as I can. I’m a huge fan of the disappearing mom and pop shops of all kinds and will patronize them over a big-box store whenever possible. I support my community with volunteering AND my dollars. I’m not going to be screwed for it however.

Most stores will also price match online offers when possible to keep their customers happy and coming back.

Realistically, if this is truly the case, I’d have maybe been able to get out with a pair of Silhouettes for $350 — if I could have found such a generous optician.

Now for the issue of your ‘cheap’ lenses, I can assure you that the lenses that you received are ‘cheap’ as well. There are lenses that can be purchased from manufacturers for as little as $2-$3 per lens but are distorted and very poor quality.

I’m sure you could put this lens under to OptoTron3000 and tell me all sorts of ways this is inferior, but from a practical standpoint, it’s tack sharp, they seem to have the proper optical center (my measurements seem to be correct), and again the price means I could get five pairs for the price of one.

Opticians are trained to know the differences between these substandard lenses and the good stuff.

Too bad my eyes can’t tell the difference. Trust me, if a year down the road, I find a problem with these, I’ll post it. If I’m getting headaches in a week, I’ll post it.

Let me use this example: there are wide ranges of prices for diamonds. You can pay as little as $50–and in return you get poor cut, clarity and color so is that really a bargain??

Depends if you need it to cut something or sit in a ring for people to ooh and ahh over. Diamonds are a sham also. I’d consider dropping this from your arguments moving forward.

Again, you get what you pay for. I would recommend that you take your glasses (which probably cost the seller a total of $10-$11) to a qualified optician. They can put your lenses in a strain-o-scope to show you the extent of the distortion in your lenses and may be able to point out all of the defects and incorrect measurements as well.

And you get what you overpay for. Eyeglasses aren’t diamonds. They don’t last forever (unless you’re 70 years old and your idea of activity is turning the pages of the Wall Street Journal — I think my grandfather had the same glasses for the last 30 years of his life). I. like most people need (or even want) a new pair every few years. At $400 – $500, that’s not going to happen, and the lenses are going to get scratched with 3 young kids. Eyeglasses aren’t forever and I shouldn’t have to pay like they are.

I also want to state that not all opticians are created equal…..find a reputable optician (not likely to find this in a chain) and they will truly be able to get you the most value for your money.

You said a mouthful there. The people in LensCrafters have no idea what they are doing. They’re generally (I’m sure there are exceptions) not qualified to be within 6 feet of my eyes.

I appreciate your response, and I’m sure much of what you say is true. You do have much to gain from this, while I don’t. These glasses don’t compare in a number of ways to frames and lenses from your store, but they compare very favorably in one very important way. A way that I think you’ll see from the comments, is not being addressed and is in fact being manipulated by the brick and mortar stores. Someone is getting rich, to be sure.

UPDATE: Thanks for all of the kind words and thoughtful responses (on both sides of the issue)! I can’t believe the nerve this has touched. Want to share your experiences? I’ve started an aggregator site (http://www.glassyeyes.com), that will hopefully evolve into both a place to rate the shoppes and discuss this topic further. I really feel like the can of worms may be open now. Let me know what you think!

89 Responses to “Eyeglasses — A response to “Stephanie”, an Optometrist”

  1. […] UPDATE: I got a comment from an optician — and responded to it here. Filed under: economics, products, Good Websites, glasses, eyeglasses, [this is good], Zenni, goggles4u   |   […]

  2. finchley81 Says:

    Thanks for the experience report, it was fascinating. I agree with the optometrist argument that you should be getting eye checkups on a regular basis (although we probably disagree about what constitutes regular, just like my dentist thinks I should be in every 4 months).
    There’s an important distinction between opthamologists and opticians and optometrists. Many people seem confused by the terminology. Opticians, in my opinion, are just people who sell corrective lenses. They’re salespeople. Like you mention, there is a big difference between getting an eye exam and buying corrective lenses. I don’t see why the two should necessarily be connected.

    I’ve never bought glasses from the same place I’ve had my eyes checked and now there will be no chance of that ever happening.
    – Ira

  3. Chris S Says:

    It comes as no surprise that an optometrist would defend their exorbatant prices. Let’s think about it for a second… how much material is in a pair of frames? Perhaps 5 cents worth of metal and plastic? How much in a lens? Maybe one dollar after the robot grinds them down to the proper prescription?

  4. Michael O'Donnell Says:

    Why can I buy something like a disk drive – with spectacularly sophisticated electronics, a motor that spins at 10000 RPM, mechanical tolerances measured in angstroms, etc, etc, etc – for $50 while at the same time these greedy slobs want $400+ for approx 4 pieces of metal and plastic? It’s like the real estate scam with their Monopoly Listing Service and their expectation that we’re willing to let them skim %6 from every transaction – just one more gravy train (enabled and perpetuated by sweetheart legislation) that they’re out to protect.

    You’ve hit another nail on the head here. Just because it’s the way it is, doesn’t mean it’s the way it should (or could) be.
    – Ira

  5. hENNIFER Says:

    man, you’re a freakin’ prick. awesome.

    I’m actually a pretty decent fellow (sometimes). 😉
    – Ira

  6. David Green Says:

    Very timely for me. My company benefits dropped vision coverage 4 years ago and I’ve been clinging to my old glasses for almost that long. My last eye exam (just after coverage was discontinued) was, of course, slightly changed and the eyeglass folks in that office insisted I had to get a whole new array of glasses (bifocal, sun, driving, etc). The bill was over $1000 and I swore I’d never open my wallet to those bastards again.
    But just to add to the sham… You HAVE to get a new exam every two years. I recently visited a few stores (lenscrafters, etc) just to find cheapo replacements for my 4 yr old driving glasses. I was told it violates federal law without a prescription less than two years old. I have no drivers license restrictions (i can squint and pass the test), my old glasses work fine, and I just want to see my kids playing soccer more clearly (and I prefer using them when driving at night). No dice. Expensive exam followed by the hard-sell for new product (beta insanium deluxe frames with super xray lense technology, ..irresponsible of you to settle for anything less, …).

    The two-year thing is law — which is not to say it is steeped in any sort of morals, ethics, or science. My prescription has changed only minutely in the past 5 years. That is not uncommon. I don’t get new glasses every time, because even my ophthalmologist agrees I don’t need them.

    The hard sell makes me want to kill, so I’ll leave it at that. 😉
    – Ira

  7. h3 Says:

    You’re supposed to pay hundreds of dollars extra for cleaning and repairs? I don’t know about cleaning, but I know I’ve gotten many friendly adjustments at glasses stores where I’d walked in off the street and they didn’t know me from Adam. Or Eve, I suppose, in my case.

  8. Joe Says:

    Brilliant response. I wonder what optometrists educational loan payments are these days? I’ve worn glasses all my life and this is is just another industry that will have to change (submit) with the times, and what technology and efficiencies bring. She lost me when she brought up diamonds, as they are truly the biggest scam on the planet (just ask DeBeers who carefully controls the diamond cartel).

    I think we’re talking about another cartel here.
    – Ira

  9. Richard Swelling Says:

    man people are sick of being ripped off and it really shows with the popularity of this article…dear DR Stephie, you better take notice of what is important here…your “industry” is going to be experiencing a change (many of ours have, not for the same reasons) as people wise up to the BS being shoveled upon them. We have all seemingly been butt raped buying glasses, BTW when did it turn into a total car salesman fight tooth and nail to just retain your dignity and get out of an eyeglass store for under $400! I dread it worse than the DMV! Well thanks to the internet we have options, and it seems locally here anyway lenscrappers has ALREADY run all the legitimate LOCALLY OWNED optometrists out of business! So hey I tell you what, I am giving this a shot. Thanks for the great article, and the well worded response to the obviously desperate attempt at a parry.

    I have not one tear available for any of the optical stores out there.
    – Ira

    • Heinz Schon Says:

      My blood pressure sky rockets when I respond to an advertisement by Sears, or Lenscrafters, or Pearle Vision, etc., that states two complete eyeglasses with frames are on sale for $100. I took advantade of the ad only to discover they took advantage of me. After I picked out my frames and it was time to pick lenses, it is then that they reveal the lenses included in the sale are the big, cumbersome coke bottle type. They tell you that you really want the thin lightweight lenses with all the coatings, etc. When it was all said and done, I wound up paying over $360 for the two pair. This is not that bad when you consider Lenscrafters wanted that much for one pair. So here I am researching and googling for eyeglasses, and what a difference a little knowledge makes. I am just amazed that more people haven’t gotten fed up by all the optical shops bs. How long will it take before the public is finally tired of getting screwed by these scalpers?


  10. ep Says:

    Whew. And it’s not like they have us by the short hairs or anything, seeing as how some of us bump into walls without our corrective lenses. I guess I’ve been lucky to be able to put 5 pairs of lenses into my current frames… but they are beginning to fail. So this post is timely for me as well. Lenses usually set me back around $250 (sometimes more). I’ve gotten ones with the wrong PD or the wrong eye corrected for astigmatism, forcing me to wander around in contact lenses waiting for my glasses back. Several times the lenses were missing the AR coating I’d paid for. And none of them have ever made it more than 4 months without being completely scratched up.

  11. Jeff Says:

    This is what happens when an industry becomes TOO greedy. A reasonable profit – let’s say 100-200% – might be justified by it being a low volume, high skill business. But 1000%? Now you’re gouging your customers and they’re going to go elsewhere.
    I recently took my $450 Lenscrafters rimless glasses back to change the prescription and re-use the frame. All that requires is loosening the little nuts on the screws holding the lenses in place on each side and then sliding in new lenses.
    They refused to do it! They said “Oh, didn’t we tell you when you bought these? They not reusable frames. You’ll have to buy new ones.”
    And they wouldn’t budge, even at the manager level.
    I’ll never go back.
    Love the idea of this. Thanks.

    I agree whole-heartedly. I would gladly pay a premium for quick, accurate service, but that premium is no where near what they want. I understand business, and know that everyone needs to make a buck, but there are limits. End of Story.
    – Ira

  12. Liam Says:

    Thanks very much for the info. on teh glasses. I’m out 400 bucks for my pair at Lenscrafters. The frmae broe 4 months later. I went to get a new frame under warranty but I had to pay 1/2 price fo rthe frame. The problem? they couldnt find the same frames and they were rimless so I could only use the lens’ with thi style frame. They were dead serious when the told me I need to buy a whole new set at 1/2 price. Around 20 bucks. I flipped out and created a major scene in the mall and was willing to get arrested over this. I got new set for nothing but wil never go back.
    Where did you get all your measuement info. from. Not the prescription but the widths, centers, etc.

    I grabbed a ruler and looked at the sites. Almost all of them have a decent section on what the measurements meant. I used my old broken pair as a base, so I knew I’d get something that at least fit.
    – Ira

  13. Hank Says:

    Far squiddly, for the price they ask you to fork out for a pair, it’d be nice to have an eyeball bath with it. If they were making the entire thing inhouse, perhaps a little leeway in the markup. But since they usually don’t make them there like a key cutters, it’s not an easy price to swallow.

  14. PeterN Says:

    David Green,
    Something I’ve done in the past is paid less when I know my current prescription is still good and just asked them to do a refraction test on the glasses.
    The stores can point a light at the lenses and normalize the light beam until they know your prescription (except in cases where your lenses are poorly-made enough that they may not be able to determine how/why something was done for your glasses, i.e. something made by cohen’s or lenscrafters).
    If you do this and just tell them that you got a checkup last year and don’t have your prescription anywhere you can dodge their money-grubbing stupidity. Just talk them into waiving any bogus “cost” associated with the process if you buy the new glasses from them.

    Good luck. I’ve never found a place that will do this — not that I spent too much time looking.
    – Ira

  15. jonb Says:

    Great post! Here in IL, I go to Walmart with the independent optometrist on-site. $114 total for exam & new lenses in my old frames. One thing I would add, GET A WRITTEN PRESCRIPTION. They didn’t volunteer it. I had to ask for it. A written prescription will avoid paying for another, if you need new lenses somewhere else within 2 years.

  16. Ty Z Says:

    A year ago I broke my glasses while on vacation. This was on a Friday. Then next morning (saturday, obviously) I called up the local Wal-Mart that which had an optometrist and was open for walk-in appointments. I went in, had my eyes checked and got a prescription for $45 (I was stuck with the 2 year prescription issue). Of course, my prescription hadn’t changed any, but it was nice to confirm that I suppose. The optometrist knew I wouldn’t be getting glasses from them because I needed some that day (Wal-Mart sends that work out) so he did recommend a good place in town for me to go that wasn’t DOC or Lenscrafters. Bottom line was, I had a GREAT experience at Wal-Mart for my eye-checkup, the price was very reasonable, and I’d go there again without hesitation.
    I’m sorry, but the response of Stephanie the Optometrist rings extremely hollow to me. It’s the comments from part of an industry that is unwilling to deal with competition and a changing marketplace. I don’t believe for ONE SECOND that the quality of the lens grind is any different between an online place vs some local shop vs a chain store. They’re all going to punch numbers into a machine which does the grinding. Furthermore, I knew a guy in college who got a job grinding lenses at Lenscrafters. He certainly wasn’t some highly skilled technician. They taught him how to run the machine and that was it.
    Finally, if these online places are so terrible and the local places are so much better… the great thing about the economic system we have is that customers have CHOICE and will gravitate back to the local places because their needs get served better. And conversely, if the local places want to hang on to business, they’ll realize that they need to be better at serving the customer and one of the ways that they can serve the customer better is by being more competive on price.

    I love economics. Thanks!
    – Ira

  17. Curtis Says:

    Thank you for highlighting some of the more pressing reasons why I have opted to fork it over to have my corneas sawed off with lasers. Two siblings and about a half-dozen of my more myopic friends have undergone the procedure in the past 2-10 years and there have been no complaints…so while it’s an awful lot of dough on the short-term, I will be able to say “ka-POW” to corrective lenses at least until my late forties.

    Great post.

  18. Daniel Says:

    I think it’s pretty interesting that everyone who has a bad experience or a complaint about the whole issue of buying glasses only ever mentions large retail chain stores, like Wal-Mart, LensCrafters and the like. While I have had similar experiences as well as feeling I was overcharged and under-serviced, the whole point of those places is to get you in and out with you glasses ASAP. That’s why they have the ads with “in about an hour.” It’s like fast food except highly technical. In addition to that, the service is highly personalized and therefore highly tedious.
    Think about it, if you have a complaint about the service, fit or price in the process then imagine being on the other end. Then the larger chains put sales pressure on you because it’s a retail store that you’re going to more than it’s a health care facility.
    I live in Chicago where there are eyeglass shops coming out the wazoo. And guess what. You can spend $500 at a boutique type store, $500 at a major chain or even $69 at another major chain for 2 pair of glasses and the exam.
    I’ve never been there, but it seems like a deal to me.
    As to the local shop that Stephanie was talking about, I’ve been to 2 here:
    Interestingly enough, they both cost less than LensCrafters even though the frames were more expensive. I got totally custom glasses that were hideously expensive, but the bottom line is that the service was great, great in some unexpected ways and I love the glasses.
    Now that being said, I’m gonna try out the online and cheap thing because it sounds promising. But, from what I read in the reviews so far, the difference in cost isn’t going to matter. It’s cliche, but you get what you pay for. If Stephanie works for a local shop like the ones I’ve been to then I’d buy glasses from her in a heartbeat.

    I don’t think you always get what you pay for. It’s a cute slogan, but it’s not accurate.
    – Ira

  19. When I got my last eye exam done, after I was done ordering the (insurance-subsidized, but still expensive on top of that) glasses from the local optometrist, I requested a copy of my prescription from them. “Why do you need it?” I told them “Because I’ll also be ordering glasses online.”

    Needless to say, they weren’t happy, but they gave me the written prescription. The glasses I ordered online (from optical4less.com) are better quality than the pair from the optometrist, and have been the ones that I’ve worn since they arrved.

  20. djb Says:

    I’ve been alternating between Lenscrafters and Pearle Vision for years. Every purchase has been a disappointment. This year, I was in the Lenscrafters cycle, and the skilled opticians mounted the lenses in the frames 8 to 10 degrees off. (I have an astigmatism, and the orientation of the lenses is very important. One or two degrees is noticeable.)

    I took the $340 glasses back three times, and instead of doing the right thing — grinding new lenses — the opticians tried to rotate the lenses within the plastic frame, bending them into a ridiculous and obviously distorted shape… They acted surprised and offended when I politely took advantage of their money-back guarantee.

    Even with all the ‘adjustments,’ the lenses never got within 4 degrees of my prescription. This is nothing short of intentional negligence and malpractice. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a story involving such conduct.

    My recommendation to all: think twice before spending that kind of money on that kind of ‘service.’

  21. MB Says:

    Interesting post, and information. I share an affinity for the Silhouettes, and am wearing a pair at the moment. After reading this, in securing (yet another) pair of backup lenses, I might go online. But on the whole, I think I’m sticking with your optometrist critic. I don’t have a particularly large sample, but honestly, I don’t know any rich optometrists. For the most part, I suspect she’s on the mark. When you all of a sudden find out that you can’t get a decent eye exam for less than $300 from any place besides Lenscrafters, you’ll have people like yourself to blame.

  22. Susie Says:

    Great research job, and thanks for passing it on. I don’t know if I’ll buy some online, but just wanted to throw out another option: Costco. They have an independent optomestrist that charges about $90 for both glasses and contact-lens prescriptions, then you pop next door and order nice snazzy frames that are under $100 (the Kirkland Signature/store brand frames are nice and cheap). They have all sorts of free stuff included (scratch-resistent coating, thinner lenses, etc), and the contacts are also dirt cheap (~$15/box for Acuvue 2). And if you bring in an old frame for new glasses, they will do it for you for the cost of the lens and a mounting fee ($45-65, depending on whether it’s regular, bifocal, or trifocal).

    The only thing is, I’ve found that sometimes the center point of the glasses isn’t right on. I also find they’re not that helpful in helping you pick out something that looks good. Alternately, when I went to Duke Optical (yes, I’m in Durham), I kept looking for frames that looked ugly on me and the lady picked out a frame and said, “This is the one”–and she was right. I so would not have EVER picked the frame she gave me, and I’ve had the same pair for 5 years now (with updates on the lenses at Costco). So, there is a service aspect there if you go to a place that really knows frames and has great customer service.

  23. Carol Says:

    I used to live in a college town with a big school of Optometry. Those kids used to brag on the bus every day about how they were going to make 60K in their first year out of college (while surrounded by ordinary folks working two part-time jobs just to survive). I am absolutely thrilled to see yet another gimmicky industry get nailed by the net.

  24. Terry Horton Says:

    I sprang for several hundred dollars fpr ultra thin, high light transmission, atoric progressive lenses. I spent the same amount that year on a new monitor. Guess which I get more use out of?

    On lenses… even bad binoculars are impressive until you compare them with bright, clear models. It’s just as true with eyeglass lenses. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get excellent lenses. Also, keep in mind fitting becomes crucial as RX gets worsens.

    On Silhouette, Silhouette SPX (titanium/polyamide) frames flat in my sleep more times than I can count. It’s an ordinary adjustment for the optometrist, and in 15 minutes my Silhouettes look like new.

  25. I love this post.

    I’ve had vison tests and bought glasses from my community health plan, from the chains, and from little eyeglasses boutiques. I can’t tell the difference in quality with any of it, but I know I pay more for style and a range of stylish choices.

    Now, I’m ready to shop online–thanks! I do think I want to try them on in stores first, b/c I’m super picky, but if I can replicate the look for less, I will.

    A note on test frequency–
    A long time ago, I was told you’re vison changes every 2 years till your 30, and then again 35 and up. I may be forgetting the precise ages, but it was grim, somewhere around 5 good years. I don’t know if I even believe it but I remember it.


    I’ve found 2 pairs of glasses with anti-glare hard to clean. Anyone else have expererience with this?

  26. harpervalley Says:

    the spectacular spectables. ooch, me wallet hurts thinking of the beta titanium frames.

    i found a guy in vancouver who sells artsy, trendy, the latest and greatest. i just happened to be in the need for new glasses, saw the sign and walked in. he asked if he could help me.

    ‘no, not at these prices!’.

    he said not to worry and started pulling drawers full out from behind his desk. wowsers!!! cool, affordable frames by the dozens! we yacked and gabbed and he revealed things to me as liked my forthwithness. besides which, i wasn’t one of his ordinary point grey looking customers, he had no worries.

    the guy has friends all over the world who look for ‘interesting’ frames for him, which only cost him a couple of bucks. put them on a nice display unit,, play up the ‘artist’ optician, and he gets the crowds.

    knowing his little secrets and that he was willing to help me and charge me less for the lenses to boot, i passed on a web site where he can get some heavy cool vintage glasses. oh the joys of just admitting who you are, work within your means and call someone’s bullshit! glad you did that 🙂

  27. Preetpaul Khangura Says:

    You can go ahead and buy your cheap-o glasses wherever you want. What it comes down to is you get what you pay for. It seems that you’ve also forgotten that a huge part of buying clothing/accessories for yourself is a fashion. Fashion (at least good fashion), will come at a price. I tried some cheap, half-rimmed glasses on at LensCrafters bu the reason I went with the higher quality Gorgio Armani frames is because they look better, are of better quality, can be adjusted by a professional, have a nice warranty, and above all, I love the way they look.
    Going along with your super researched and thoroughly bulletproof analysis of the optometrist profession, I could go ahead and build myself a computer for about… $400. Why ON EARTH would ANYONE ever want to pay more than that for a computer?? It couldn’t be aesthetics, or build quality, or material quality, or customer support, could it? You come across as a crass individual who tries to tear apart a nice response from an optician.
    Wow! 5 pairs for the price of one? Looks like you might need all of them considering the kind of quality you probably received. If you’re only interested in fakes, I can probably refer you to a nice fake Oakley store (hint: flea market). They look just as real but only cost 1/10th of the price! Sounds like it’s right up your alley…
    My eyes are the primary way in which I interact with the world. I would be a complete idiot to spend bottom-dollar just so I could write on my blog that “OMG OPTOMETRY IS A SCAM.”
    Please, go ahead and keep these nice little knock-off selling online stores in business, I’ll continue to pay a few hundred dollars for something that won’t give me headaches (real and induced) because I actually care for my health, and also for the way that I look.
    Oh yeah, I also saw some counterfeit Callaway golf clubs on sale, why don’t go and pick those up, we’ll play a round or two. I’m sure they work just as well as the real thing; they look VERY similar. Also, I won’t be surprised at all if this never shows up in your comment section. Toodles.

    Did you even read this? You have no idea who I am. I’m not even remotely interested in “fakes”, or golf, or Armani, or Oakleys… (but I sure have an idea who you are — yikes!). You missed the mark on almost all fronts. Rather than spend an hour crafting a reply to this, let me just say to you, Mr. Fancypants McMaterialism, “Toodles?”

  28. ~bc Says:

    Let’s just remember, if you don’t want to shop at a retail store, that’s fine. Don’t. But don’t go into the store, use their inventory to make your buying decisions, talk to their employees, breathe their A/C, use their lighting… because that’s essentially stealing. It’s akin to going into a restaurant, sitting down, eating their breadsticks and water, then leaving without paying. Those things aren’t on your check at the end of your meal, but they cost money. Their costs are covered in the price of your meal. Small businesses have enough trouble surviving with the predatory practices of big box stores, the same ones you complain about their service, yet so many Americans shop at these stores and decry the death of their mainstreets…
    But who makes these beloved main streets? Small businesses.
    Without the scale of big box logistics and those economies of scale, it’s more expensive to operate per product carried. With the necessity of a retail store front, showroom, shelves, displays, lighting, carpeting, signage… things are going to be more expensive.
    I don’t wear glasses. My wife does. I know how expensive they are. I’m all for online shopping. I do it myself. But if my wife went shopping in a local eyeglass shop, picked out all her frames and styles, and then placed an order online. It would directly benefit my wallet. But it would also work towards the destruction of my local economy. It not only fails to recycle my paycheck into the community, where my paycheck comes from, but it actually removes money from the economy because your presence in these stores without the intent to buy costs these people money, the money they’re investing in all things I listed above, to help you make your purchases for services and goods you need. And make sure your school or church or other organization doesn’t turn to that store for a donation for your cause. When was the last time eyeglasses4less sent your PTA a donation?
    So remember, when you make the choice to buy online, it has real local effects on the economy and your quality of life directly. Unlike Wall Street, you need to see things in the long run.
    Now listen, I’m not saying that you may not have seen frames at a very large markup. You may have. But don’t lump everyone into that category. You might be wondering what horse I have in this race. My Mom and Pop operate a small town “Mom and Pop” hardware store. So I’ve seen all the things you advocate above and in the last post first hand. Here’s a secret: many things they sell are sold at Home Depot for higher prices. They sell a drill for less than my parents can buy it from the manufacturer, but they make it up by charging you a lot more for things like drill bits and fender washers that you don’t know the prices of.
    My parents work 70-80hr weeks, with only the help of a couple part timers, and it hurts me personally when people do as you advocate. Retail is hard. It hurts because, let’s be honest, most small businesses have two truths: a) most are started to help fill a need in the community, and b) most fail. C would be most people in the US are employed by small businesses. 90% of jobs are defined as such.
    Save a couple bucks? Do it. But at what cost?
    If you care to reply directly to my (sorry, enormous) reply, I’ve turned this comment into a post at my own blog. You can find that post here.

    I shop more locally than most (being stuck in a suburban metropolitan area) — really. But I won’t be taken to the cleaners by a store even if it is “quaint.” That’s worth something, the “few bucks” you underestimate on my glasses purchase, perhaps.

    This is an indictment on an industry that is doing one of two things (or both): rip us off, or being run so poorly that there end up being four are 4 lens LABS in one mall. Either way, screw ’em. They’re too tightly coupled with the doctors and the protectionist laws. I’ll continue to go to my eye doctor for my prescription and keep my ear to the ground waiting for the sea to change. It will if people want to remain in business. The model is a mess. $300 for relatively standard eyeglasses? That’s absurd on an order of magnitude greater than the drill example you mention.

    I have no problem at all with the price of art and collectibles. I think the prices of luxury items can be what ever the market will bear. But this isn’t that. My eyeglasses aren’t a luxury item. No one is gaining except the greedy bastards behind the price-fixing. It’s collusion, plain and simple and the stakes are high. $85 for mid-range lenses? $50 for an AR coating? $175 for LUCITE frames? Puh-lease.

    There is a market open where *everyone* can be happy, but it takes a bit of give from both sides. Mom and Pop really don’t have me to worry about. They need to make a living, sure, but not at the cost of every one else’s.

  29. Ron Strickland Says:

    OR you can do what I did after getting a little older and needing different pairs of glasses to do different things… none well. Lasik… worked for me… 5 years now and I very seldom even use reading glasses. My vision settled in at -.75 in each eye. Not perfect for distance, but I can see every pixel on the computer monitor and until the print is really small don’t need reading glasses. I was offered a free redo or enhancement as they call it but because I see so well for the majority of what I do, I declined. My surgery was done before they introduced the new WaveFront technology and bladeless cut so it is a far better procedure than when I had it done 5 years ago. No regrets… and no glasses!

    As to buying glasses online, absolutely yes.

  30. Brendan Loonam Says:

    This was such an awesome and inspirational site! I have felt oppressed by the optometrist industry ever since my eyesight started slipping in my late 30’s. My prescription covers reading and distance with the same glasses; what kind of problem does this pose? What can I do to get around it? Sincerely, Brendan

  31. Jason Says:

    The claim that their “Hyperflex” Titanium is 5x as strong as Beta titanium piqued my interest. That seemed like a lot. Fortunately, my girlfriend is an aerospace engineer who deals with material stengths (including many Titanium alloys) all the time.
    First off, we could not find a materials properties sheet for “Hyperflex Titanium.” Undoubtedly, it is just another aloy of titanium being marketed under that name. But we did find beta titanium–a common material–in matweb.com.
    We took “strong” to mean ultimate tensile strength–the amount of force required to pull something such as rope, wire, or a structural beam to the point where it breaks.
    I’ll just give the results of our cursory research. The weakest -beta- titanium we could find had a tensile strength of 102000 psi. The strongest alloy of titanium we could find had tensile strength of 247000 psi. About 2.47X as strong. But it was also a Beta titanium alloy. So, the claim that “Hyperflex” titanium is 5X as strong as beta titanium probably doesn’t remotely hold water–it would need to have an ultimate tensile strength of 500000 psi to 1.3 million psi–strengths you see only in composite materials like carbon fiber and kevlar.
    Compared to -pure- titanium, however, it would be easy to find a titanium alloy 5x as strong: depending on the preparation, pure titanium has ultimate tensile strengths of 30000-75000. However, the strongest titanium alloys all appear to be “beat titanium.”

    This is AWESOME! Thanks for laying down the science on us!
    – Ira

  32. Buying eyeglasses online

    Well, I never thought that I will blog about buying eyeglasses online but here I am. I found this pair of posts “Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers” (with 65 comments so far) and “Eyeglasses — A response to “Stephanie”, an Optome…

  33. Peter Says:

    My family’s big problem has been finding an optometrist who would get the prescription right in the first place. Before we moved we had two choices – inconvenient and good, or convenient, with a store full of flashy frames, and lousy prescriptions. We now live in strip mall hell, so our main choices are lenscrafters or Sprawl Mart.

    Unfortunately, the economics don’t look good for getting a good deal from a local storre. It’s expensive to run a small store, and it’s expensive to hire people and actually pay them (as opposed to what Walmart does). I would assume that this means that a small store has to rely on fashion brands which keep their exclusivity by refusing to deal with chains. In other words, the way to keep a small store afloat is probably to cater to people who aren’t concerned about cost – or consider it to be an asset, like with jewelry – and anyone whose primary concern is price is going to have a hard time.

    I’m more familiar with this dynamic in the bicycle business. You can only buy prestige brands through independent dealers, who could not survive on twice the margins the chain stores get. It’s a two-way street – there has been at least one BMX brand that did a deal with Kmart or Walmart, and discovered that no one bought their high-end, high-margin bikes anymore.

    So I guess I would say don’t attribute to greediness what you can explain by other means – you’ve got to keep a store afloat somehow when you’re competing with chains, and there *are* people out there who would rather wear an $800 pair of glasses than a $200 pair of glasses, just so they can pretend to be better than the person wearing the $200 pair.

    You make some valid points. The bike argument is especially a good one as I’ve watched Schwinn, Mongoose and many others fall prey to the allure of the big-box at the expense of any of the marketing cache they once possessed. There will always be the people more interested in fashion, impressing others, or the perceived higher quality of a higher price who will need the $500 glasses. I think you’re absolutely right about the reason that the small independents cater to them. The frames are just a part of the equation, however.
    – Ira

  34. Bryan Says:

    I work in the optometry/ophthalmology business. I’m a technician (C.P.O.A. and until Jan of ’06, was also C.O.A.). I must say that I totally agree with your article. Most frames, at least where I live, are marked up about 300% average. I must say that a lot of money is changing hands, and it isn’t going to any of the employees, that’s for sure. To make matters worse, the company I work for has increased it’s cost for exams to well over $250 (Not exact figure since I don’t want to entice people to rape other people’s insurance companies) because they found out the maximum of “reasonable and customary” that the insurance companies will pay; and these are just optometrists doing general eye exams, nothing special. They have realized that they can charge an insane amount of money to the insurance companies and get reimbursed. So they don’t care that they are charging over and above what is considered reasonable for the service they offer, while still billing out the maximum of “reasonable and cusotmary” to the insurance companies. Just another example of how companies that do stuff like this are part of the rising cost of healthcare. They cause everyone else to pay the price with higher deductibles and higher monthly insurance premiums, just to unnecessarily gobble up as much money as they can. What a lack of ethics! But I haven’t even begun to touch on frame & lenses yet!

  35. Jezebeau Says:

    This prompted me to go look at the difference in pricing for contact lenses. There are over a dozen reputable stores online where I can get them for less than a third of what I’ve been being charged (combined with the fact that they won’t even sell them to me if I haven’t gotten an exam from *them specifically* within the last year.

  36. Advo Says:

    Before I get into this, I will say that I work for a family optical business. The business has been in our family for almost 20 years and has been around for over 50.

    I noticed something in the original post, and that was that you felt your old glasses were never properly fitted. Truely that is a shame. It is a real shame when hard working people spend their hard working money, and all they ask for is what they ordered. I find it disgusting when an optical store cannot take the time to properly fit the frames. Because of that, I can understand why you do not see the value in seeing an optician.

    However, I will say that the majority of us are not like that. The majority of us independents work just as hard as you to make a living everyday. I love what I do, I enjoy what I do. So when you come into our practice, I want you to feel special, and I do my best to give you the best value as possible.

    Now lets talk about the pricing difference. First off, we and no other independents (in my town) mark up our products by 300 or 1000 percent. That is ridiculous. The chains might do that, but they also buy their products for cheaper.

    If we look at the frame, obviously you did not buy a Silhoutte and that is fine. Most likely what you bought was a discontinued frame that is no longer available with no parts if it breaks. Again fine. I do not carry discontinued frames in my practice, because I want to service you if the frames break, but that is what we do. I have no problem if you want to save money and go somewhere else to buy discontinued. But my patients demand current.

    Now we talk about the lenses. The biggest problem with lenses is getting quality coatings. That includes a quality scratch resistant coating and quality AR coating. In the past I have used a lot of coatings. I now deal with one specific brand, and do some because it is the only coating that does come back that is crazed like crazy (a crazed coating is when the coating breaks away from the lenses). My patients get extremely frustrated when they have to always replace their lenses. So I sell a coating that will not only last a year, not only two years, but if the customer wants, four or five with no problems. Now if I get this coated lens with transitions my cost is well more expensive than you paid for your frames and lenses from the online place. Now doesn’t that question the difference between the two products?

    Finally, I argue fit. Mainly proper fit of lenses. No matter what, the fit is extremely important. I guess many of you do enter in your PD online, so with single vision lenses you have not seen a difference. Maybe, but wait until you get into progressive lenses, where the fitting has to be dead on and the heights are incorporated also. But of course, many of those illegal online stores just position the heights anywhere in the frame.

    Guys, I just want to say that I know you may be bitter. But there are independents out there that really fight to give you the best product for the best price. I will put up my value of my products against that of an online store any day of the week. Of course I cannot offer you a thin lens with transitions and AR for $81 including a frame. But I would not want to, because then you would hate me two months later when you find out the true nature of the product and never buy from me again.

  37. Hampton Says:

    Great articles here. I just got back from Lenscrafters today and got a prescription for $54 after fighting them to not get the dilation and some other axial exam. My eyes are not that bad, and never have been. I then asked for the advertised 30% discount for AutoClub members, and they refused stating that the discount does not apply for “basic” exams. In any case, I think I got a bargain.

    I then was lead out to the showroom floor where there was no prices on anything. I stopped dead in my tracks and asked how much to just get the lenses replaced in my existing quite servicable sun glass frames. They said $260 just for lenses. I was then told that the clear set lenses would be about the same and then I was looking at waaaay over $100 frames so I saw this all heading quickly to the thousand dollar mark. When I asked to just take my prescription so I could shop around, the friendly attitude just dissapeared.

    So, with all the posts above, I actually would not mind to pay a reasonable price for service and a local store. I would have paid about $100 for sun glass lenses, and about $200 for a new set of clear glasses, and this would be about four times what online glasses cost, but I would have paid it.

    But, the LC prices were pure and simple a hose job. I resent being hosed. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. If those who posted above just reasonably gouged me, I would go for it. At some point I would prefer you guys just stick a gun in my ribs and do away with all pretense of being anything but a thief.

    I am now going to just go online with my $54 prescription and take my chances. LensCrafters and the other thieves deserve to suffer the misearable death they will on the way to the bankruptcy court a few years down the road. I have bought from Lenscrafters for probably fifteen years, and will no more.

    As to the post about paying for fashion. I am waaay too ugly to care about fashion. No amount of money spent on clothes, glasses, or even a gazillion dollar Porche will help me one bit. Ugly Betty and I will have to just do our best with “welfare” frames from “illegal” backwater merchants. With the money left over at least I may be able to afford a hooker.

  38. Aten Imago Says:

    I knew it. All I had to do was search and lo and behold- a site that gets it right= on the scam of the Bricks & Mortar eyeglass stores. I’m properly hated everywhere for my informed style of criticism- so I started a whole business around part of it. The most shocking discovery I made is the fraud that EyeGlass stores perpetrate (Let’s not even tackle the rest of retail or healthcare). The AR coatings are DEATH to a good value lens because the promote scratcing are impossible to remove or re-coat. Same thing with the now ubiquitous polycarbonates- they scratch easily. Get acrylic lenses and REFUSE the AR coating. I used to be a photographer and can prove that AR coatings have zero effect on the WEARER’S perception of the world. The coating just eliminates reflections for ON-LOOKERS !
    Personally- I’d like to see B&M retail die. I’ve worked hard for that cause since 1995.
    Your valiant contribution to your fellow consumer is a great step in this communal effort. Keep it up and Thanks!
    Aten Imago

  39. Advo Says:

    You guys do realize that Lenscrafters is usually more expensive than the independent opticians?

    And Hampton, the dilation and such is for the health of the eye, and can pick up health problems that you may not even be aware of (note: I am not an OD and do not benefit financially from OD’s doing a dilation).

  40. MishMosh Says:

    As an opthalmic technician at a group practice, I have to agree with you. The doctors I worked for had an optical shop on the premises; the glasses were always overpriced. I have not yet had the experience of buying online, but am certainly not adverse to it!

    One note – in regard to older prescriptions not being filled; it is actually for the health of the patient. Your eyes and vision can change; most doctors I am familiar with do not care either way whether you purchase your glasses and lenses from them or a lower priced competitor. They just want you to get checked so you are not needlessly straining your eyes.

  41. K Burton Says:

    I bought my latest glasses from 39dollarglasses.com about a year ago, and have been completely satisfied. They were single-prescription glasses I use for desk and computer work, but now it’s time to get the bifocals replaced too. I’m going to give them a try with the bifocals and see how they do.

    I don’t skimp on the actual exam. I go to an Opthamologist for a full exam every 2 years. But I’m happy to leave the Optician/eyeglass store experience behind me. In 40 years of wearing glasses, I can’t recall a single time I felt “helped”…only pressured to spend more and more money. And it made no difference whether it was at Lenscrafters, Pearle, or an independent. I’m certain there are independents out there who aren’t like that and don’t hard-sell addons, but how are we supposed to find them? Buying online seems safer.

  42. Lumpen Says:

    Thanks alot for your posts, Ira! Before I got a new pair of specs at the start of ’06, I looked online but couldn’t really find anything. The links have been very handy. I’d be interested to hear about people’s experiences buying prescription sunglasses online (not those transition or clip-on ones).

    As for the “Mom & Pop” stores, I have three words: not my problem. To a limited extent, there are some business models that can be more beneficial to communities than others, and like Ira, I try to choose small-scale when I can. However, ethical consumerism is mostly a hobby for the middle class. I’m not going to subsidise “Mom & Pop”‘s lifestyle by buying overpriced items.

    Speaking of scams, I noticed that some people are a bit ‘wtf?’ about the diamond thing. There’s a great, short article in a back issue of Stay Free magazine which you can read here: http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/16/diamonds.html

  43. […] A response to “Stephanie”, an Optometrist […]

  44. Benn Glazier Says:

    My favourite comment is for the guy who thinks Armani is quality. Do your research, and you’ll find out the real deal.

    Now, as for spectacles, I’ve got some research to do!

  45. Paul Says:

    Thanks for that review and your responses. I ordered a cople of pair from Zenni and a pair from Googles4U.

    I find it interesting how the people attacking the quality of the frames and lenses did not actualy order these glasses and test them. Their futile attempts to save their RIP OFF money making gravey train are based on speculation at best.

    Those lenses are PROBABLY really cheap ones and crappy QUALITY, If you took them to your Optometrist he would test them and tell you how bad they are, the frames are 5 times stronger…etc.etc…

    Let me Ask You desperate people. Have you tested the strength of his frames over yours? What were the test results? Did you check his lenses and PROVED they were of inferior Quality? I’m sorry but I did not read anywhere that you did. If not, then SHUT UP and STOP your so obviously frantic attempts to curb this review which was actualy the only one with credibility since he actually ordered, examined and reported on the glasses. YOU DID NOT. Its not going to work no matter how hard you try.

    For $26, Im willing to try the online store as are others and I’ll know for myself if the glasses are right for me or not. If the local places offered these same glasses for $75 or even $100, I’d probably get them there but honestly I think the 1000% markup makes a lot of sense when you see the prices of most places.

    Great reviews and responses IRA.. Peple like you do us all a great service.


  46. Jonathan Westbay Says:

    After much hem-hawing, I ordered a couple pairs of glasses from Zenni online.

    I had been skeptical about the process, and indeed, one of the frames, is not quite what I expected. Not real happy with the fit and something weird about the way the lenses tilt.

    However, the second pair is just as good or better than anything I have ever worn locally and spent hundreds of dollars on.

    I was worried about being predatory and taking advantage of free adjustments to perfect the fit, but actually, they fit my face like a glove, the temples have just the right amount of curve around the skull and behind the ear, the nosepiece sits just right. And this is a plastic frame.

    A plastic frame with rather large lenses. I don’t need a progressive but I do need the full coverage. Smaller frames always leave a section underneath my eyes with double vision. Rimless frames make it worse as there is no framing to help bridge the gap of the double image that forms around the edges due to prism.

    Local shops steer me away from what I want, probably because it is not in fashion, and they don’t stock it.

    If they don’t sell the type of frame I want locally, then why the @$%)(*@% should I buy it.

    Perhaps I just got lucky. But it was worth the risk, even if I had to try several more pairs, I would still be out ahead, and now I have more choice.

    The glasses I previously wore gave me headaches, the OD hemmed and hawed and said they are optically perfect, nothing is wrong with them.

    So, obviously, it IS in fact a function of lens size and shape, trial and error, and I got lucky, I can see more comfortably out of these, than anything else I have had.

    Now I am going to purchase extras with AR coating, hopefully that makes an even bigger difference.

    And now I can wear the same frame and prescription, so the AR is pretty much the only variable, I can see how much it truly matters and whether it nixes this @$%)*(&@%$ computer eyestrain (whoever says LCD’s are better, doesn’t have eyes like mine…I found the softer pixels of my old CRT, more pleasing….but unfortunately….I like the convenience of a laptop…and need to save space on the desk)

    Hopefully I can eventually ditch glasses altogether.
    Here is an example of a professional OD that rid herself of glasses
    Undergoing Brain Re-Programming to Reduce Myopia

    Now that I can pay a fair price, for what has become a massproduced computer designed product, I can actually purchase more prescriptions as my eyes hopefully improve and in the long run….save quite a bit of money

  47. Pam Says:

    Fabulous site. I went shopping for glasses yesterday and the pair I liked (titanium, made in Denmark) ran about $700 with lenses. The frames were made by Klink. So I come home and google to see what they cost else where and no matter what search terms i use, I can’t find anything made by Klink. I went to a high-end optometrist with his own place and I trust him; I’ve been going there for a few decades. I recognize the other brands and they are easily found on the net. Can anyone tell me why Klink frames wouldn’t be anywhere on google or how to find them?

    Your site is a great find. Thank you so much.


  48. Paul M. Says:

    I just bought my second pair of silhouettes at a retail optician here, in DC (my previous pair was also purchased retail, in New England) and I must say I am filled with buyer’s remorse. With all of the “trimmings” they came in at almost $700, which I now regret deeply (ok, truth be told I feel like a complete IDIOT). The so-called “service” was abysmal; when I went to pick them up, the moron who fitted them literally made them worse with each adjustment, noting this fact each time by saying, “That’s worse, isn’t it?” After her 6th try I asked her if she had ever fitted a pair like these, to which she replied, “They don’t usually require this much adjustment.” After 30 minutes and zero improvement, she called in the optometrist who refused to help her, staking out his professional turf by implying that his specialty was prescriptions and not adjustments. Although not widely known for my patience in situations like these, when I have shelled out good money for both service and products and my expectations are dashed, I bit my tongue and asked if there was anybody in her store or company (they have 2 locations in DC) who was able to get these glasses to fit, she became exasperated WITH ME! I politely informed her that it was I who paid nearly $700 and it was now my time that was being wasted by her incompetence…I asked her if she would prefer that I telephone my credit card company to cancel the purchase…she called a colleague at their other store…I went to the other store the next day only to experience much of the same. I would have preferred to have ordered similar glasses online, as you did, for just over 10% of the cost, have them fit badly, etc. than to have gone through this recent experience. I am now contemplating calling my credit card company and pursuing my threatened “plan B”, then ordering from the website you mentioned…Arghhhh.

  49. Bonnie Says:

    To those wanting cheap….May I ask what kind of jeans or other clothing or purses you may be wearing? Do they have a name brand on them? Where exactly where did you perchase them? What kind of money did you shell out for the designer privelege?

  50. craig Says:

    in response to Stephanie’s comments as the optician and supposed authority. My company supplies opthalmic lenses to 6000 accounts across california ranging from clinics, to medical centers, to boutique optical shops. First I would like to say that the cost of a pair of plastic CR-39 lenses that we sell to these doctors is $1.20/pair. We are among one of the top suppliers of opthalmic lenses in the United States. The cost of CR 39 Plastic with Anti Reflictive Coating is $3.24/pair. The cost of 1.67 Hi-Index Aspherical lenses with Anti Reflective Coating is $19.98. Thats that. When it comes to frames the cost of manufacturing any frame is around $1.80. When it comes to designer frames you really are paying for just the cost of marketing that brand to the consumer.
    The fact of the matter is that when you buy from a retail optical establishment you are not paying from better quality lenses, you are paying for the service, warranty and the cost of salaries and overhead costs.

  51. WoW, Ira, where have you been all my life! You have put words and given insight to my own irritation at the entire eyeglass industry. I am a 59 yo female who has worn glasses since first grade. That adds up to a lot of years and a lot of eyeglasses. One of my earliest jobs was at Shuron-Continental, assembling gold metal glasses! At minumum wage, mind you. I am totally fed up with this rip-off industry, and have been for several years. You have given me the final impetous to NEVER set foot in a brick&mortar vision shop again…and that includes medical shops (such as Kaiser Permanente). You all have convinced me that it makes perfect sense to buy my next pair online.

    My stories match many others on this blog. I’ve experiened them all.

    Here are some educated suspicions I have formed: There is NOTHING in the materials or manufacture of an eyeglass frame that warrants a $200.00 -600.00 price tag. NOTHING. Sometime back, about 20 years ago, the prices started skyrocketing, discounts and sales vanished. For it happen so quickly and throughly, there had to be some group or organization behind it. A middleman. Someone with ties to either optometry and or meaufacturing. That’s where the exhorbitant markups are going. Not to the poorly trained clerk (opticians) at the stores. But, shame on them for being inept and greedy. When you walk into the mall vision stores, the desperation from them is palpable…make a sale, earn a commission. The heck with you, the customer..we’re not right, we’re the sucker.

    Another issue is insurance, a complete RIP OFF! I have been cooerced into buying it, and as others have found, when trying to replace or repair the glasses, suddenly the insurance doesn’t cover whatever it is I need. It’s obvious the salesman makes a huge profit on selling that to us suckers.

    Coatings and other add-ons to the lenses, a waste of money. Every non-scratch coating, non-glare, color tint, has either scratched off, rubbed off or worn off within months of purchase. Not going there again.

    I had lasik surgery 5 years ago, and although my vison is still not perfect, I have residual astigmatism, am glad to be almost freed from the eyeglass store. I’m in the market for a new pair of bifocal with distance correction right now, to sharpen my vision just a tad, and I will be buying them online.

    I would love to see a consumer uprising against the marekting ploys these companies use. We Boomers are a huge mass of folks with failing eyesight, and the time to stop this NOW! I have ahd enough, and I will share my feeling as well as this blog with my friends..most of whom wear glasses.

  52. Arp Says:

    Ira, your site is one if the few that made me think ‘why didn’t someone think of that before?’ Thanks for starting it – it’s been great reading the responses from other online buyers, ornery opticians, honest opticians and overpaying fashion victims. Oh – and especially the aerospace engineer refuting ‘hyperflex titanium’ and the opthalmic supply guy.

    I do feel bad for honest mom & pop opticians, but the Internet has changed so many industries by expanding markets and reducing overhead. I do think there will and should be a place for them in the marketplace, just as there should be affordable ways for people to buy glasses.

    However, the concept of fit is way overrated – I’m pretty active and all of my glasses have been loose & slippy within months of purchase. Thanks to your efforts to publicize the internet eyeglass industry, I can finally afford to have a spare instead of waiting 7 years for my next $400 pair.

  53. Wanda Callari Says:

    I had an eye exam today. My glassses of 2004 had the wrong perscription. Now I found out!!! They were made at Sears. These are my everyday glasses.

    I am ready to try something.

    Thanks for all the information it has been very helpful. -WC

  54. […] pairs until I get something I like that fits right. This whole thing started with a guy named Ira who decided he was fed up with exorbitant prices. He blogged about this and got some responses from […]

  55. Jeff Says:

    It’s fine if you want to buy your glasses online. But, when you sit on them and need them adjusted where do you go? Can you get them adjusted online? You won’t have anything to do with buying the product from the store but I bet you go there to get your glasses adjusted or a new nosepad put on when yours falls off.
    It’s called capitalism people! We are a free market society. If you want to buy your glasses online, good. If you want to buy them in a store, good. If you want to buy them out of some guys trunk, good. Just stop complaining about it.

  56. Lauren Says:

    The same machines make the same lenses.
    I also have found I can walk into almost any opticians office for a free adjustment, regardless of where I got my glasses.
    I purchased glasses from both 39dollarglasses.com & ZenniOptical – both times perfection! Even better than my old opticians office (which were usually so off I had horrible headaches or you could see visual defects – $400 later and still issues). I love my cheapie glasses.
    Ive found my newest opthamologists/opticians office to be an even worse scam. They overcharged me for a contact fitting. Then doctor/opticians perscribed me generic contacts (and wanted to charge me double the brand name prices) saying they were the best for oxygen transmission – and that they perscribe them to every single patient with no problem. Contacts are NOT one size fits all, but even the Opthamologist said that they were. They also tried to sell me contacts within 2 minutes of trying them out. I refused, came back a week later with problems and BEGGED for nearly a half hour to give me a different brand before the Doctor caved in. Thanks for the script, now I can order them online.

  57. Phillip Says:

    Thanks for all the information! I will be going to Visionworks tomorow to get my $500+ pair of glasses—only because my boss is paying for it (I had a little accident at work). I am going to make sure that they give me all my measurements so I can order my glasses online from now on. As a matter of fact, I am probably going to take the “free” glasses that come with my purchase so that I can take the lenses out and send them to Zenni to get high index lenses. The only reason I have to do this is because “free” eyeglasses do not include the upgrades and high index lenses.

    These brick and mortar stores should be ashamed of themselves for shooting the working man “the rod.” Being that I have been to cheap to get eyeglasses within the past five years, I was shocked at the prices. When you walk into the stores, you should just bend over and hand them a jar of Vaseline

  58. Dahlia Says:


    I think by starting this thread you have brought about alot of good dialogue. I want to tell you that I am an Optician and work for a warehouse optical shop. Thanks for the commentary by the Optician who insinuated that quality people cannot be found at a chain. I must say I love my job and am very good at it.

    Here’s the thing about Optical shops. Actually, let me start with talk about vision insurance. Vision insurance is either really good (here is $250 spend it where you like) or just plain bogus. They will send you to a place like Cr**n or Cl**ks*n where they start at $600 but will be more than happy to take 30% with insurance. Ridiculous. Optical shops that make their money off of nothing but pushing glasses have a huge mark up. That is where the dough is at. The reason I love where I work is because we are the cheapest in the market (non-cyber), don’t do add ons; our lenses come standard with non-glare, scratch resist, UV, etc. I don’t like selling to people. I am a consumer as well and do NOT like being sold to so it is nothing I feel comfortable partaking in and our glasses sell themselves.

    Do I think there is room for error with ordering online? Yes. Would I say it is not worth the gamble? No. Ordering online is a gamble. You don’t get to try the frame, the measurements are tricky. I am particular concerned about those ordering progressive lenses. The reason why is that the formula for measuring an individual for no-lines is based upon the frame and where it sits upon your face. You must have the frame and dot the person’s pupil. You then measure the millimeters from that point on down to the bottom of frame. The measurement is based solely on the frame chosen. Tricky. Also, the refund policies aren’t great. Frame bad, lenses wrong? Okay we will refund you half. It is a must that you make an educated purchase online.

    I also wanted to comment on on the two year prescription comments. The reason there are two yr RX is because RX can change in that time. And yeah, at some point most people will taper off until the magic age of 40. However, we now live in a sue happy society where making glasses based on old RXs only leads to liability issues. Most doctors will only put their stamp of approval on an RX for this amount of time because people need checkups for the health of their eyes. Let me tell you, I dont care if you buy glasses from me or not. I am not commisioned and my doctors get no kickback (unlike some Optishops) so they do not care either. But I will say make sure you get your eyes tested. I have seen 34yo with the beginning of detatched retinas and youth as young as 17 with Glaucoma.

    Contacts: Not all contacts are the same. Not at all. The doctor has what is called a contact lens fit, because EG RX differ from CL Rx. One sits on your eye and one is several inches away. The doc has to measure the diameter and curvuture of your eye. Material is also a factor because people have allergic reaction to some materials. And sure it is hard for many doctors to turn away from some of the newer lenses. Why, there is better technology and they allow your eyes to breathe better. More oxygen. Docs love this, better for your eyes. However more oxygen= more expensive lenses usually but docs think like doctors and it is hard to turn away from what they really do believe is better for their patients. Some really benenfit from more moisture/oxyg but some may be able to get by with the cheaper Acuvue2.

    When we quote for a contact lens exam we include the fit in the charge. $68. Period. Now some will quote you a contact exam on the phone, you get there and they tell you as much as 60 bucks more for the fit. And you think what is this? It is not nice that they don’t tell you this ahead of time. It is sneaky business! Not fair and it really upsets people as it should. Make sure you ask are there any other charges I may be charged? What is the bottom line?

    In summary, if you are single vision eg wearer with a simple Rx and can get by without trying a frame on…..not too picky? Want to buy something fun you would never imagine buying with a less than dirt cheap sticker? Fabulous give it a shot.

    But eat the $38 and get your eyes checked every two years (bite the bullet) and feel free to stop in to your local friendly Opticians if you want personal service, precision measurements and a person you can talk to about anything wrong with your purchase, Just be choosy about where you go (stay away from highway robbery) and educate yourself.

    Happy shopping (cyber or personal)!

  59. Jason Says:

    Hi Ira,

    Any chance you remember the styles you purchased that you are wearing in your pictures? I really like them both.


  60. JOE SCOVEL Says:


  61. Kathryn Says:

    h3 (a while back) said…
    “You’re supposed to pay hundreds of dollars extra for cleaning and repairs? I don’t know about cleaning, but I know I’ve gotten many friendly adjustments at glasses stores where I’d walked in off the street and they didn’t know me from Adam.”

    The part I don’t understand is how you all believe that somebody is going to continue to give you something for free (adjustments, cleaning, minor repairs) forever. If we ALL buy the cheap glasses online, then the local optical shop will go away (or only service real customers.) Yes, glasses are overpriced, and the on-line options are good in that they will help push the prices back down. But if you are honest and want to pay an honest price for the hardware (the lenses and frames), then you should be willing to pay for the service. Next time you need your frames straightened, make sure to pay a reasonable service fee to the man or woman who’s providing that service to you.

  62. Ben Says:

    Your comments don’t really ring true the quality is the same. Yes some may have a bad experience at the online shops,but many more have the same experience and pay 3 times the price.
    The rest who some how feel comforted by paying more for the same product please feel free to do so.
    The addition of several hundred dollars to the price of my glasses does not add to the comfort,fit,or the clarity of my vision. Is the eyeglass store going to go away anytime soon? No, but for those of us do get a better deal online, leave us alone.
    If my online glasses don’t fit or are blurry I will handle that with the shop I purchased it from.
    The ridiculous statement that I have to be willing to pay an outrageous price for my glasses so I can go in and have them adjusted once a year is rediculous.
    It is cheaper to simply buy a new pair with your line of thought.
    The bottom line is for the type of service I have received and with the few times I have used it the online option is for me. Glasses are overpriced and your so called service is not worth as much as you think.

  63. Brett Says:

    I found your comments while looking for fitting tips on Silhouette SPX.
    Being from Australia, I can tell you that we have had a smaller version of your debate here. I’m a partner in an individual optometry practise. I’m an optical technician, meaning I’m an optical mechanic by trade (4 year apprenticeship), and an optical dispenser (2 year diploma). Much more than a “salesman”, as my occupation was described by one ignorant poster here.
    May I add my own observations?
    Eye testing in Australia is free. It’s covered by Medicare, which is our national health system. Most optometrists “bulk bill”, meaning the client presents their card, we swipe it on a voucher, and send the voucher to the government for payment. A full initial eye test earns us around $55.00 – so, to me, your eye testing system sounds like a very lucrative occupation – no argument there! Maybe that’s why the online vs retail store argument doesn’t bite as much with the public here. I would point out the sad fact that at $250 for an eye test, you must have a terrible problem with eye disease there, particularly among the poor. I’m glad I live in a country where even the poorest can have their eyes tested regularly. A lot of diabetes, choleserol and blood pressure problems, for example, are first diagnosed in an eye test, so it’s an important general health test to have done. This is not to mention the insidious eye diseases like glaucoma that can send you blind if not treated. Did you know Ray Charles shouldn’t have been blind? He went blind as a child from undiagnosed glaucoma. Eye diseases are not confined to the elderly – they can happen at any age. Get your online store to look after THAT problem for you! And that is where the potential dangers of online stores arise. Penny-pinchers simply get their specs “neutralised” (ie. the prescription determined) and written down – as one of the posters here recommends in order to avoid paying for another eye test – and go for years without a proper health check. No-one ever shines a light in and looks at the internal mechanisms off the eye to check for problems. This behaviour leads to disease and blindness, particularly among the poor and uneducated. THAT’S the big problem from the point of view of an industry insider.
    To add a couple of points I didn’t see here: I pay $1500 pw rent and $2800 pw week in wages. There’s $4000 pw I have to find in net profit just to cover those two costs, let alone all the other bills and then make a profit. In addition, to give my customers a decent choice of frame styles, I have around $90,000 worth of stock sitting on my racks. That’s a lot of money to have lying around essentially doing nothing. So you need to add up the costs involved in retail that don’t exist for an online store. And don’t try and tell me that you don’t get what you pay for! If you want a Gucci or Christian Dior, it IS going to cost a lot more than a no-name piece of Chinese crap. It wil also last ten times longer or more.
    As far as mark-up goes, our margin is around 100% on frames, and around 300% on SOME lenses (not all – the average would be around 100%). Having said that, let me tell you that I’ve been in business for nearly 10 years, working 6 days a week, and I sure ain’t rich. I live in a modest 3-bedroom bungalow of about 110 sq m. Yes, I have a few nice toys – some nice guitars and stuff – so my family is comfortable, but we are a very average suburban family. I drive an ’86 model Nissan utility for God’s sake!
    While there can be no doubt that there ARE some businesses out there that gouge on prices, that’s not the universal case, which seems very much to be the point being pushed here. Price-gouging happens in every single industry you can name, so why the emphasis on specs? Like your other poster here, I get people who want to take advantage of my stock range to see what they like, then try and get it cheap online. I don’t WANT those customers anyway, because people who have a driving mentality of “how CHEAP can I get a pair of specs for?” are always the first to bitch when their cheap and nasty frames fall apart in 12 months time. You see, I also stock what’s considered to be cheap frames here ($65 plus $100 for lenses). I have customers who seem to think they’re smart shoppers because they buy cheap, when in fact those people are the ones who have to replace them every 12 months BECAUSE THEY’RE CHEAP! On the other hand, the person who spends $350-$450 on a Dior or D&G or whatever brings them back in 2 years for new lenses, if they need them. Look after a frame like that, and you’ll get 10 years out of it, no problems. (Famous brand names don’t become famous unless they’re of the highest quality) Work out the maths, and see who the smart shopper REALLY is. Further – does your online store offer the option of putting lenses into your existing frame? If it did, how long would you be without your glasses while they did it?
    i guess what I don’t like is this stament that retail stores are “for suckers”. By generalising in this way you paint ME as a rip-off artist. I wonder how you’d feel if I started up a discussion headed “Americans are warmongering, hateful rednecks who love nothing better than going on mindless shooting rampages”? It would be just as fact based as this thread – but wrong.

  64. Robert Says:

    I just bought Silhoutte titanium frames for bifocals at MYEYEDR store. The purchasing process felt like I was buying a car. Even with my insurance the bill was $300 because I picked an expensive frame that I was told was $300 over my insurance allotment but she would sell them to me for only $200. I wore the glasses for one week and hated them. I returned the frames under their “If you are not happy” return policy.

    I was helped by a different sales person and I picked out a different frame from Hushpuppy. I asked the woman how much my insurance would pay for the new frame and she stated it was covered 100%. So I asked for a $200 refund for the Silhoutte frames I just returned. She said that I wasn’t entitled to a refund. I argued that she got the frames back in perfect condition so I should be entitiled to a refund, even if there was a fee for “re-stocking”, I should get something back. I know that they will just resell the returned frames.

    Well, she spoke with the office manager and told me that the manager would look into it and call me. I now realize that was just to get me out of the place without making a scene. I feel used and abused at this point. I can see if I had never purchased glasses from this place before but this had been my eye examination location for 20 years. But I won’t go back. They destroyed my trust.

  65. Dan Says:

    Hi, how does this online eyeglasses seller ensure correct fitting of the lens to your eye, ie centrered to your pupil and all that.

    The optomitrist has a thing that looks like a binocular which requires some knowledge, I suppose.
    I can’t imagine how taking the measurements to center and position the lens can be avoided or done on-line.

  66. Velia Says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I really enjoyed reading your article and research. There are three out of five people in my house that wear glasses and it tends to be a real painful event when someone needs new glasses. Last Oct. we spent $ 370.00 on the hubby and just last week spend $300.00 on my 8 year olds. The woman started at $178.00 for the frame and then began to tack on AR, shatter proof lenses, and she went on to sell me a warrenty for 3 years. Ya stupid on her part she had told when we first began this process that the Dr. recommeded my daughter change her glasses once a year do to a condition called stigmatism. So why in the world would I get the 3 year warrenty. She had no answer for that but they got me for the $300.00. I currently need new glasses for myself and I was looking online but I do fear that they not be exactly what I need or am looking for.

  67. Susie Says:

    My eye doc is next to a LensCrafters. When we 1st got the vision coverage my husband got his prescription (bifocals for the first time) and went to the LC. They were horrible. It seemed that our eye care insurance almost covered $0 of the lens cost. Being a tad bit gullible, my husband got “coatings” that were later learned to be part of the lens material, NOT a special covering. His bifocals were over $300. for just getting out of grad school with a family (anda disabled wife) it seemed outrageous.

    I got contacts because the insurance covered them 100%. My daughter needed her first pair of glasses, and we went to a different shop. They did a nice job, but even with insurance it was impossible to get them under $200 – and believe me I tried.

    I really needed glasses b/c part of the illness I live with is very dry eyes. The contacts felt like sandpaper. I found a post about Zenni Optical. I went and looked at frames to see what I liked (used a digital camera so I could SEE what the frames looked like – kids has fun taking pics of me in different frames and for once I could SEE the frames – being terribly nearsighted this was a first!) We spend an hour or so browsing frames, trying them on, then I went home and ordered from Zenni. I got rimless glasses that look wonderful on me. The degree of nearsighted ness and astigmatism made getting adjustments necessary. I paid $15 to a local optometrist to do adjustments and have LOVED the glasses for over 2 years now.

    Yes. The “cheap” online glasses are not the same design as lenscrafters or the other companies. Mine are actually made so that I can adjust them. They are sturdy, attractive, and comfortable. I am planning to order glasses from them again this month. I do get the pupillary distance measured for me at one of the eyeglasses places. This is usually free to anyone. Just like LensCrafters will put new nose pads on for free. I am willing to pay, but if they offer it for free, who am I to complain.

    Go to Zenni or even one of the other places. Most likely the only “parts” you will need are nose pads or screws. You can even buy kits with these at the drugstore.

  68. Craig Says:

    If the quality was there I really wouldn’t care how much they charged but it seems every time I get new glasses (Dr Holbert, Oakridge Mall in the Bay Area) the quality is worse. My latest pair are high index with all the coatings and are optically disgraceful. The light bends differently with wavelength so certain pictures take on an amazing (but not really desirable) 3D look. Flat objects appear to have dips and bumps. If I move my eyes up and down and left to right text is clear in about 10% of the locations and progressively blurred over the rest of the lens.

    I’ve been wearing glasses for 30 years and I’ve never seen such rubbish lenses in all my life. When it gets to the point that the stores deliver nothing for the money, the online places start to look pretty good. Needless to say this is the last pair of lenses I’ll ever buy from a retail store.

  69. mylie Says:

    Cohen’s advertise complete pair of glasses for $99.00 (*restrictions apply). Had to pay more because presciption was +/- 4.00. Since had Rx of -4.00 required thinner lenses and ar coating for computer use . Paid $300 dollars with eye exam. Glasses broke 14 months later, couldn’t get repalcement because passed the one year mark. Anyway if these places offer profeesional reliable service and quality products for reasonable price then consumers would not be obliglated to look elsewhere for same product without hassel of little and/ or poor service . It doesn’t hurt to try online stores for less than $100 and still going to optometrist for annual checkups .

  70. Tony Carl Says:

    I just paid $735 for 2 sets of LENS ONLY (One regular bifocal one sunglass bifocal ) from Lenscrapper! OUCH!

  71. Paul Says:

    I got lucky many years ago and found several pairs of Polo sunglasses at TJ Maxx for about $30 each. (No, there’s no little polo player logo on these – they look perfectly normal, or I wouldn’t have bought them.) I’ve been coasting on them for many years. They seem to be of very high quality.

    I recently broke the right temple on the two that were the same model, and I found this blog when I was searching for replacement parts.

    I would be surprised if there weren’t a difference in quality between different brands of frame. However, just like with most goods, quality isn’t guaranteed to go up with price. It takes a lot of due diligence, and I thank you for helping with that.

    I plan to get my eyes examined in the near future (it’s been way too long). I don’t expect my prescription to change much if any, but I agree that it’s a good thing to do for general health reasons. As for glasses, I will look for the best combination of local service (if possible), price, and quality.

    I’ve had good luck going to Vision World stores, which are a Minnesota chain owned by Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA), which operates in many states. My guess is that Vision World was once independent and later got bought.

    I’ve had bad luck with high-index and polycarbonate lenses (prismatic and vertigo-inducing effects), so I’ve stuck with whatever conventional plastic is used.

    I’d consider paying something like $500 for a pair of glasses with perhaps a 6-10 year service contract that includes exams every two years and a reasonable number of free replacements.

  72. India Says:

    I broke my “unbreakable” titanium frames, for a second time, yesterday. I immediately groaned as I thought of the $400 to $500 I was going to have to put on my credit card, for glasses that I know will only last me (RX that is) about 2 years max.
    That was when I got the bright idea of looking on the internet to see if there was an alternative. You make a good argument and have convinced me to try and see, after I get my eyes examined and get my new RX, to try and spend that less than $100 for a new pair…as a backup.
    I’ll probably buy the cheapest pair I can walk out of the optometrist’s office with and then see if the ones I order online compare. IF they do. I will report back and verify that my experience was the same as yours..or not, depending. For my sake, I hope you are right. Thanks for the effort, all the same. Hope to write back with good news.

  73. Allyn Says:

    I have to admit, I wish I had read your post before I spent $133 on my glasses after my insurance coverages. I’ve barely worn my last pair of glasses during the two years I owned them because they never fit quite right no matter how many times I took them in for the free adjustments. Always one ear piece or the other felt like it was digging in to the side of my head…not the back of the ear as much, just the sides. Not to mention that this time around when I went in to pick out new frames, I told the woman tending the show room that I had problems with finding glasses that fit comfortably ever since I finally replaced the ones I had worn all throughout high school. She just pointed to the wall of mens frames and said “Oh that is what adjustments are for.” Hmmph, this after I read some article from my Insurance provider about how to size frames based on your facial dimensions. And to top it off, the glasses were both crooked and pinching my skin on the left side of my head. The lady adjusts the ear piece and doesn’t even notice the freaking tilt from left to right in the frames….

  74. Anji Says:

    “You may be able to find a silhouette frame a little cheaper online but you are also forfeiting correct measurements and the service provided (future repairs and adjustments, complimentary ultrasonic cleanings, etc).”

    I don’t know where you’re located but here in the UK if you walk into an optician’s shop and ask them to adjust your glasses or put the lens back in or whatever, they generally do it there and then, free of charge, regardless of whether you are a customer of theirs.

  75. Karl Says:

    Thank you for a better alternative. It’s patently obvious that those designer brand frames cost 1000s of times more than they cost to make and are then marked up a few more hundred percent, and you don’t even get quality!

    I have a pretty big head. I got o lenscrafters and they don’t even have templates that fit me? What’s with that? It’s the most basic variable in a frame! and they are supposed to be professionals.

    I got Lasix in India for $650, drugs included and it was money well spent. I use glasses for reading only now. They used modern western machines and the doc was trained in Canada and Japan. Then got prescription reading glasses for $35 including the exam with all the coating and spring frames.

    If you’re rich or insured, sure, support the economy. The lower end of the economic spectrum needs info like we have here



  76. geta anton Says:

    I have a question and I need help . I want to return the eyeglasses and I want to know if Kaiser are going to refund the $466.00 back on my card . Please help with the answer . Thank you

  77. Peter Says:

    Great Thread. I paid $300+lenses etc. for the so-called ‘unbreakable’ hyperflex titanium rimless frames manufactured by Silhouette and the curved temple busted in less than two years – just wear and tear – never sat on them – i swear! Brought them back to the fancy Russian Yiddish speaking optometrist in Fort Lee NJ and they refused to repair them because it was past the 1-year warranty offered by Silhouette. I went on the website of Silhouette in Austria but they say little about their warranty. I think they know that even specialty titanium alloy wire eventually weakens when it’s bent and it will fail. I guess there is no such thing as forever, but it would have been nice to get another couple years out of that expensive frame. Will check on the on-line source for sure.

  78. JR Says:

    It’s amazing isn’t it. The floor folks at the stores have no concept of how glasses sit on a face. It seems like a lot of the designer/manufacturers don’t either. Where do they get the engineers from? Why doesn’t someone make a pair with spring loaded nosepads that grip your nose? Just bought two new pairs and the idiots at the stores cannot adjust them to save their lives.

  79. Bob Says:

    I recently had my eyes examined by an optometrist who has the usual eyeglass sales room in the waiting area. My prescription was “plano”, other than me needing 2.0 reading glasses because I’m in my 50s. While I waited for my eyes to dilate, I was ushered into the sales area and given the high-pressure sales pitch for a nice new pair of glasses. Now remember, my correction was zero – my eyes were just fine except for the expected presbyopia. The recommendation was for me to pay more than $300 for a pair of progressive reading glasses with titanium frames. That’s $300 over and above what VSP would also pay the provider. On top of that, they recommended the usual scratch resistant and AR coatings.

    I decided to make things really easy. I went to the dollar store and bought 10 pair of reading glasses for $10 on the theory that you don’t need scratch resistant coating on something you can throw away. I used the the balance to buy a bigger monitor for my PC. A nice easy solution that made me much happier all around.

    I was kind of insulted that these people thought I was such an idiot. Then again, maybe I just look stupid in my $1 reading glasses…

  80. spc Says:


    With 2 kids (one of them needing 2 sets every year due to breaking 1 every year) and for myself, I was getting really stressed out with the eyeglasses scene in US. Back home, I will get much lighter frames (made in China as well?) from qualified optometrists at a much much lower price. Knew all along that there is a ripoff going on here. Glad to see that there are options available. Will definately be checking those out next time around.

    Thanks again for passing on the info, have been meaning to do the net search myself for a long time, just could not get to it earlier. Landed here via Reddit.


  81. Prague Says:

    I haven’t been to Lenscrafters in years – not since the last disaster. The exam was actually great; a bit overpriced but the doc knew what he was doing.

    When it came to picking out glasses, though, I should have just shrugged off my fears. First off, I have a narrow face and usually get stuck looking amongst the kids’ glasses in order to find something that’s comfortable, hoping they have enough of a selection to avoid going to work in Barbie or glow-in-the-dark Spongebob. I am usually informed that they’re sure I must be wrong, and the employees always try to steer me toward the women’s section (hint: more expensive).

    It turned out I needed computer glasses on that Lenscrafters trip as well, in which they promised that they could find a pair of women’s glasses that fit (bifocals in kids’ plastic glasses supposedly isn’t possible due to lens size, even though women’s lenses are often smaller!). They….sort of fit. And the “designer” glasses I got (thankfully covered by insurance) have broken, bent, or twisted many times over the past two years. They don’t even have nosepads – the stems of the glasses have literally bent, even though they’re thick plastic.

    Last summer, I got an exam at EyeMart for an emergency pair of glasses, at which point they promised the exam was discounted if I chose glasses from there. The selection was quite poor, with outrageous prices, but at least the total exam cost wasn’t bad. I stopped at the WalMart next door (their doc was gone for the day) and got a cheap pair there in about an hour. Unfortunately, there’s something seriously wrong with them and I’m still wearing my old glasses because the new ones give me a headache. Even though they’re not twisted at all, they feel off somehow.

    Oh, and neither place wanted to give me my prescription, with both asking why I wanted it. I don’t see it as any of their business, as the result of the exam is a new prescription, and I see that as part of what I pay for. My standard answer, if they insist on one, is in case of emergencies, since I travel frequently.

    Now that I’ve read this….well, I’m over my fears of ordering online. I’m going straight to Zenni from here – thanks!

  82. Jean Says:

    I just had to comment, being someone who has worn glasses since 3rd grade. (Back then the only choice for girls was pink or blue cateyes!) I was just shopping for new glasses and noticed the prices have gone way up since I bought my last pair, which I bought at Target. I got a better deal there than the other stores, but it still is alot of money for something that goes out of style every 6 months, if you’re into the fashion frames. As for paying for the service when you buy frames, I don’t buy that. When we were on vacation I broke the filament on my rimless glasses. I went to a locally owned optometrist in town and he couldn’t have been nicer! He knew I was vacationing and wouldn’t be buying anything, but he fixed and cleaned my glasses for no charge. Now that’s a service a big box wouldn’t provide. Also, I go to an opthamologist to get my eyes examined and I never have to ask for my prescription, they always hand it to me on my way out. I think I’m going to try the online store, because I have a pair of frames I like, but just to get new lenses for them is going to cost 300-400 dollars! That is crazy.

  83. Jim Says:

    I think you are missing one important point. Not all lenses are created equal. Optics is a science, not a scam, and when an optician or optometrist or ophthalmologist explains that there are lens materials with varying degrees of optical quality, there is an actual scientific basis for that information. The better the optics, the clearer you will see, and the less strain you put upon your eyes. Of course its up to the consumer to decide how important it is to see as sharply as possible versus the cost differential. It’s the same reason the vision with dimestore sunglasses just don’t seem as crisp and clear as, say, a pair of Oakleys, who have actually patented their optics for a wrap frame to minimize peripheral distortion. Same goes for the coatings. There’s a huge difference between cheaply produced anti-reflective coating and the coating made by a company called Zeiss, who actually created the technology and are on the forefront of improving it all the time. Clearer optics, no more smudging, better durability. Again, you have to decide how well you want to treat your eyes, and what kind of sacrifices you are willing to make for your budgetary needs. I would agree that it’s unfair to force a patient to pay for the higher quality products without educating them about their options. But it truly is a case of apples and oranges.

    As far as frames, a lot of times the higher prices are due to the designer labels. Frame manufactuerers have to pay licensing fees to designers in order to manufacture their designs and sell frames with their label, and those fees in turn trickle down to the opticals and then to the patient. Designer frames are also manufactured by large frame manufactuerers at a higher quality…better hinges, a higher grade of zyl (frame plastic) that doesn’t react as badly to wear and tear or temperature changes etc. At our optical we offer a wide array of frames, pricier designer frames and cheaper generic frames, and explain the reason for the difference in prices. The choice then, again, is up to the patient. If it makes someone happy to have Armani or BCBG glasses in some sort of esteem way, they will pay for it gladly. If that isn’t an issue, they might choose a similar generic frame and pay a good deal less. I don’t think that’s an unfair business practice.

  84. Mitch Wiebell Says:

    First off, I’m an independent business owner and don’t make a lot of money. I just bought glasses from Lenscrafters and am happy with them. Their service was excellent and I didn’t feel like I was being pressured in any way. I don’t like paying for glasses and “no” I don’t like junk. I am a photographer and understand good optics etc. and do see a difference between Nikon vs. Sigma lenses etc…but its minor. All glasses are fragile. If I sit on $400 frames or $10.00 frames they’re both going to break. Here’s my point…if we do all of our “consuming” on-line brick and mortar business will go out of business. Your friends and community members will be unemployed. Do you think your glasses are being made in the US? They may be but who knows? Fine if they’re not. The web companies make a profit too, they mark things up. Is it because of volume, cheap labor etc. that they make money? Who knows? In my photography business if I work for less than $600 a day I’d lose money due to overhead. I really need to be in the $1500-$2000 dollar a day range to make a profit. Yeah, you might think that’s crazy for just taking a picture but try to match the quality of a professional. Has everyone forgotten about insurances, rent, utility bills, income tax, property taxes, sales tax, personal property tax, salaries, equipment costs, file storage, inventory etc. that has to be covered per month for the business? That doesn’t include their personal insurances, mortgage, fuel, car payment, kid’s tuition, student loans, food etc. Its a shame but life IS expensive. Its fine to shop around though. To all those that complain, open your own business and try to survive without marking items up. It’s not gouging or raping, its survival.

  85. Linda Says:

    I’ve just come from my optometrist, where I paid $65 for an eye test (New Zealand). He nearly had a heart attack when I suggested buying the new specs online! I use progressives, and he gave me chapter and verse on how online lenses would be cheapo nasties etc etc. Then told me my new lenses would cost $658, and another $80 to fit them in the frames I’d already purchased for a mere $79 online (titanium rimless, much the same as the Silhouettes I have now). After recovering from my heart attack, I’ll go alon with the unbelievably costly lenses, as they need to fit right in the frames – but at the same time I’ll order some spares online. Will let you know if I see (literally) much difference! Lens cost is completely over the top, and the opticians have you at their mercy, but my sight is important too.
    Does anyone have experience of progressives online?

  86. Teresa Says:

    I am looking for a website to purchase frames that are make of kevlar or titanium. Theya re very light because my perscription is a -4 with a reading component to it. Would you know of a reputable website where I can buy frames.
    thanks for your help

  87. 4-eyed forever Says:

    Nice to hear (what I always knew) but sad to have such confirmation…Has anyone else found that lenses now deteriorate faster (scuffing, scratches etc.)? In the last 4 years I have needed my lenses repaced almost every 6 months ($100-$200 each depending on the company). Of course I walked around in a blurr for 6 months – but know I have had enough and am wearing my 10 year old frames/lenses as they are in far better shape. I wrote the company (Crizal) but they did not reply. Scratch protection seems to be bogus.
    Glad to have found this website – definately going to look online (I usually have to adjust my frames myself anyways and have a enough old frames for reference!)

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