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Right away, I got a comment from an optometrist, and figured I'd get tons more. Nope.


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 (, 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!

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At December 8, 2006 at 5:47 PM Paul said...

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.

Please please please! Take your new glasses in and ask them to do this. Then take your old glasses in to have the same reading done. I want to know the significance of the difference.

Love that you're doing this!

At December 8, 2006 at 10:45 PM Anonymous said...

I wear progressive bifocals, with a peculiar prescription (myopia, massive irregular astigmatisms) and I work with words for a living (I'm a writer and editor). My dispensing optician worked really hard to make my glasses excellent. I tried cheaping out on my last set of lenses (cut the price of the lenses by a little over half), and by the end of two weeks I was back, asking for the more expensive ones.

In my particular case, I'll pay my optician to get things right so that I can function. A simpler prescription would no doubt get better results.

At December 9, 2006 at 12:15 AM Nicholas Martin said...

Man - you may have just single handedly destroyed the glasses-selling industry. This is going to get dugg and that will be it for them

At December 9, 2006 at 7:40 AM Anonymous said...

I do love ultralight glasses and I broke my pair ; I went in many shops, even some relatively big one and the bill was always $350-500. That is obviously insanity.

I regularly visit my ophtalmologist and he didn't find any particular shortcomings in my glasses...and he's a toughtful, extremely accurate almost anal doctor.

So marketing can kiss my shiny meaty ass, now with 101% more tensionability and made in Beta Carotene !

At December 9, 2006 at 10:34 AM gloveshot said...

After LensCrafters could not produce suitable blanks to grind a lens for my right eye (Iwaited nearly a month while the said they had one on order) I asked for my $518 back, went to Costco, and got a nice pair of glasses with the clearest, sharpest lenses I had ever looked through in 6 days.. The cost: $110. Before trying LensCrafters, I had been going to private optical shops, which cost about the same as LensCrafters. I will stick with Costco.

At December 9, 2006 at 10:47 AM Anonymous said...

by patronizing local stores, you are helping the local economy. I would gladly pay just a little extra to support my community.

Bogus argument. The $ you saved can also be spent in the local economy, and in shops that aren't ripping you off.

The difference is that the extra money goes where you choose, not where the optician chooses.

At December 9, 2006 at 3:18 PM Anirudh said...

the last time i bought a pair of glasses they cost me C$250. the only reason i got them was because the **** optometrist REFUSED to fix my old pair even though she was perfectly capable of doing so. the reason? because i did not buy the old pair at her store. but then 6 months later, i opted for LASIK surgery which let me throw away my glasses and get a whole new perspective on life. if there's anything in the world thats absolutely great, its that surgery. take my word for it folks, get it done and stop getting ripped off!

At December 10, 2006 at 1:58 PM Anonymous said...

My boyfriend had very expensive Gucci frames that I loved. When he went back to replace them at Very Expensive Eyewear (or something like that) on Melrose, he was told they were discontinued. He tried on a number of different pairs, sending me cameraphone pix of all...none really worked like the old ones. Well, I got him to give me the old pair, read the semi-faded serial number, found the frames on eBay for $40, and then he took them to Lenscrafters or some cheaper place (than chichi eyewear on Melrose) for lenses. Another idea for people who like a particular pair of frames.

At December 10, 2006 at 8:34 PM Anonymous said...

I Have a slight advantage over a lot of you as I am able to go to Cuba Lawfully. In March I got an eye exam for #10.00 and a pair of bifocals with the photchromatic lenses for $35.00. The same glasses and exam on the big island would have cost over $300.oo, so my flight was paid for by the saving in glasses.
Good day

At December 12, 2006 at 10:25 PM dreamingoffiji said...

Your link for 39 Dollar Glasses is wrong. It is, not

I have 3 pairs from goggles4u, paid for 2 of them. The first pair was missing a screw, was told to pick another frame, did that and was shipped a brand new pair. Though I loved it, the second pair broke within 2 weeks (rimless hingeless - very, very fragile construction). I emailed customer service, was told to pick another frame but this frame was gone. Exasperated, I asked if I could send the frames back to have them repaired. They told me to send it to Pakistan (!!!), that it won't cost more than $5. It cost me close to $3 to ship the glasses to Pakistan, only to receive an email 2 weeks later to let me know that my glasses were beyond repair and to pick yet another frame for replacement. So I received a third pair - paid for by the first pair, which I repaired by buying a mini eyeglass screw kit for $1 at the local pharmacy. My third pair is rimless, but not hingless and the screws kept falling out, but I was able to tighten it a great deal. Still, it has a tendency to become loose. I would not wear this pair around my 2 y.o. daughter, who accidentally wacks me in the face every now and then. I got yet another pair with tint (always wanted to try a tint) with a metal frame for $22+ change. Repeat customers get 15% off of $25.99. Incredibly cheap!

Also have a pair from optical4less - superior customer service. This pair is toddler-proof, have dropped it a million times and the frames are in tact, lenses don't have a single scratch on them. This may be the BEST pair of glasses I had ever gotten, yet I only paid the minimum $35 (w/shipping) for them. Before ordering online in the last 2 years, I had always paid $150-200 for a normal prescription with non-designer frames. I have spent under $100 and now I have 3 pairs of glasses (would be 4, but I don't wear the first pair anymore - decided it is a bit too small for my face) to choose from every morning!

At December 22, 2006 at 11:19 PM Anonymous said...

So if everyone stops buying the eye doctor's glasses, then they will have to raise their fees for eye exams.

At January 26, 2007 at 4:11 PM Anonymous said...

how about going into Lenscrafters, picking through their frames, and then ordering online? :) (no Moms&Pops were hurt in the exceution of this shopping experience :)

So I walked into an optical shop and saw three frames I liked in one go! (I am picky, and usually buy my frames in Europe, because the styles are too conservative here!) Anyways, I couldn't make it back to the store to make the purchase and ended up checking on ebay, and found all three frames from one seller. He was selling them cheaply enough, and I decided I would buy all three, and give him a piece of my mind if they turned out to be fake. They arrived, and they were the genuine article, identical to the ones I handled at the store, but the price differential was over half a grand.

I plan to get lenses at which is a little pricey at $130 for a simple polycarbonite -0.75 sphere prescription, but it is for the essilor crizal alice model, which is nearly unscratchable. I did my previous lenses with these guys (trivex with ARC) and was happy with them. Before that, the lab used by my local optician made the lenses too big for the frames, and tried to compensate by tightening the screws very hard, stripping their heads.

So i guess the lesson is: you get what you pay for for, but you don't really have to overpay for what you get.

At February 27, 2007 at 2:59 PM Anonymous said...

I am an Ohio optometrist, and I can tell you my office specializes in custom designer eyewear. We do not mark up frames anywhere near 1000%, in fact the higher priced frames are marked up at a smaller percentage than the economy eyewear, not even 250%. Often, we have patients who buy glasses elsewear due to price, and return to us the next time because they were dissatisfied with the less expensive and lesser quality eyewear. A Silhouette frame is an excellent frame, but I cannot sell it at $100 to $125, because they cost me more than that! The private eye care practitioners are not the people raising the prices, it is the manufacturers. We have patients very happy with eyewear purchased from us at $200, and likewise we have happy patients with eyewear purchased for $600. All people are different, and while some may prefer a fast food hamburger, others prefer a filet mignon...both are beef, both satisfy hunger, but are of different quality and get what you pay for!
One other thing, a frame manufacturer may discontinue a frame at any time without warning...the optician or optometrist should not be blamed for that. Blame the manufacturer.

At March 9, 2007 at 3:35 PM Anonymous said...

Howdy! I read your interesting post because friend of mine tagged it to my attention in

The Art of Buying Glasses can be broken down into steps, and while I agree with you that frames are ridiculously expensive (as if they were jewelry, which they are not!), I don't feel comfortable skimping on the actual lens part of the job.

The most important thing is to have your eyes checked by a reputable optometrist, one whose standards for accuracy are *higher* than those allowed by the US government agency that oversees the labs that make lenses. I don't know if you know this, but lenses do not have to be made *exactly* to your prescription, there's some leeway allowed for error (the same way hot dog makers are legally allowed to let some rat-hairs slip into your franks.) My optometrist checks every lens shipped to him on his own machines. If the prescription isn't exactly what he ordered to the decimal point, he sends them back to the lab even if most other doctors would find them perfectly acceptable.

However, in future I'm going to take your advice on the purchase of a pair of frames. It's worth it to skimp on this part, cash-wise, as long as you get frames that fit comfortably and you like how they look on you. So, yes to buying frames from less expensive sellers on line in future... but I'm going to bring those frames to my optometrist to have him work with one of the three labs he has frames made at, to make sure I get the best lenses. He says he has three labs because each lab does a particular type of lense better than the other two! He's worth every penny I spend on his services, especially since I'm myopic with astigmatism, and now need bifocals, which makes for a complicated lens prescription.

BTW, I've been buying my fashionable (expensive!) frames at Lenscrafters and bringing them to him for years, because he's an old guy who carries only "old lady" frames. He's perfectly fine with patients who don't buy the frames he sells.

Thanks for the links!

At March 21, 2007 at 1:31 PM Anonymous said...

hi. love the blog - what a concept!. i have been using $2 reading glasses for the last 2 years but, after having recent problems reading, then seeing my optometrist, i learned my lef eye is weaker than my right. the effect is like having mucus from allergies coating the eyeball, so it's making my right eye strain a bit. worse, the Rx card i received shows "plain" (pl) under od-sphere. i'm tired of looking over the rim and i think a larger progressive lens will fix this, but how do i get this "non-prescription" filled. thanks so much.

At April 13, 2007 at 9:11 PM Anonymous said...

To anonymous: The right eye prescription you received stands for "plano" which is basically a lens with no power. You can get this lens at the same time that you get your Rx filled - you'll get the specified power in the left eye and a plano lens in the right. Depending on how your prescription is written, you will have varying power in different parts of the lens. With progressives, the optometrist (or lab) will fabricate the lens so that you don't have power where you don't need it.

At June 9, 2007 at 3:50 PM Beaugrand said...

I've worn eyeglasses since I was 9 (myopia, astigmatism). I've never been fond of following the latest trends and fads, and my choices in eyewear are pragmatic and conservative. I've been searching for inexpensive sources of eyeglasses for many years.
For the last several years I've had my eye exams done at by an opthamologist, and have purchased the actual eyeglasses at WalMart, mostly because they have been willing to install new lenses in old frames; I like to keep the old frames as long as they're intact, and have at times actually spent serious money having my favorite frames repaired.
Recently I discovered Zenni Optical, and purchased a pair of prescription reading glasses from them (by applying the "add" bifocal value to the "spherical" values on the prescription). Total cost of glasses with lenses, AND SHIPPING, $12.95... compared to WalMart's lowest price of $38 for similar "reading" glasses.
I couldn't be happier with my new reading glasses and I'll certainly try buying my next pair of bifocals from them.

At August 18, 2007 at 11:01 PM Anonymous said...

I have been wearing Silhouette frameless bifocals for about 5 years now. These are the best glasses ever. They are so light and do not slide down my nose. Each part of the frame can be replaced without purchasing an entire new frame. I just got a new nose piece. Yes, they might be pricey but, I cannot function without my glasses. They are more important to my every day life than my fine jewelry, my television, my stereo, my ipod, my cell phone, my digital camera, and etc. It is just a matter of priorities. I do not depend on any of the above pricey items every waking moment of my life. I do depend on my glasses.

At October 18, 2007 at 7:19 PM Anonymous said...

There are a lot of arguments as to where the best place to buy your glasses is, or who you should get them from. Who cares as long as you keep getting your eyes examined regularly you'll still be healthy, if you're happy with your glasses and their price or not.

At November 30, 2007 at 9:52 PM Anonymous said...

Ohio optometrist: Ask a travel agent about the difference between fillet mignon and hamburger.

At November 30, 2007 at 9:57 PM Ira said...

@ohio optometrist

You're late to the party and all these "hamburgers" I've been wearing the last twelve months would certainly prove you wrong. Literally thousands upon thousands of users of this site would gladly put their glasses up against yours -- and favorably so.

Keep serving up your repackaged horse meat as filet mignon long enough and you'll lose all but the most ignorant buyers -- and your lease.

At January 6, 2008 at 7:13 PM David Morning said...

All people are different, and while some may prefer a fast food hamburger, others prefer a filet mignon...both are beef, both satisfy hunger, but are of different quality and get what you pay for!

Quite right, some people prefer to buy the high quality, more expensive item and others the lower but cheaper items. However, tehre is a problem with this analogy. While every Ritz has it's Motel 6, and every high quality restaurant it's McDonalds, where is the budget eyewear store for those of us who don't want to or can't afford to buy £300 brand name glasses?

This site shows people who are in this category places where they can not only purchase just such an item, but also find a good selection of styles other than the "NHS universal unisex one-size-fits-all" ones that are usually the equivilent that can be bought in stores for such prices.

So, if you're willing to offer hamburgers as well as steak tartar then I'd be more than happy to shop at your store. If you're like most optitians and only stock the steak though I'd rather buy the cheap fast food than the luxury steak.

At February 8, 2008 at 7:48 AM Larry Hawk said...

Did you ever notice in stores,'Free Lens's With Designer Frames"?

They make money on the lens's, but a 'killing' on frames.

Get a good exam, take the COMPLETE prescription (they MUST give it to you)Shop at the discount on line stores. It's a wonderful service.

At February 8, 2008 at 7:58 AM Larry Hawk said...

I forgot to mention, my 8 year old granddaughter is either constantly losing or breaking her eyeglasses.

Backup pairs are a MUST for her
We can not afford to pay $400 everytime a mishap occurs.

In fact we should all have an extra pair of eyeglasses....just in case.

If you still feel more comfortable purchacing your glasses at your hometown store...fine. But why on earth would you pay that much for a spare?

At February 13, 2008 at 3:58 PM Choice said...

hum...i shouldn´t be doing this, since i´m studing optometry and it´s supossed to be something like my job in some time...

But i agree. 400-500 are too much. The local stores obviously need to tell something to justify why they are taking your money, so it´s obvious what their position will be.

On the other hand, at least here (here is spain), there is a legal issue about one can sell glasses or that without an optometrist. Probably a bit stupid but it will give me job after the studing years.

But trully you have a strong point. So probably the question is not wheter you`re right or not but why (i mean, what is failing) you had to look on another place in the firs time.

At May 16, 2008 at 4:39 PM Anonymous said...

Consumer Reports did a comparison and found Costco to be a cut above even the most expensive chain store (LensCrafter) in price and quality of a pair of glasses. That being said, I use to be a Retail Manager for LensCrafters and couldn't stand some of the practices required of me. LensCrafters has a 30 day money back guarentee so when a pair of glasses are brought back the lenses are tossed, but the frames are put back out and sold at the same price as new ones. Also, in most stores the frames shown are the ones you get no matter how many people have tried them on. The two pair of glasses I got while working there were new out of the box and one was free (only allowed one per year) and the other was 50% off. I could never pay the prices that are asked by most of these stores.

You'd be amazed at how many lenses are sent out that are just not made right. So if you're looking to get out of LensCrafters in an hour, it may take longer if you have a difficult prescription.

Anyway, the only thing I don't like about buying online is I can't see how the frames look on me before I purchase them. I am very picky and will keep the same frames until they fall apart.

At July 21, 2008 at 11:49 AM Anonymous said...

I try to "shop locally," but most of the goods from the local stores have a sticker on them saying "Made in China" or "Made in some other distant land." Why should I shop locally, when they don't? I was laid off because my employer decided to buy microchips from China rather than make them locally. I'll buy locally when the suppliers do.

At October 24, 2008 at 6:49 AM Jennah Watters said...

When I went in for my recent exam, I was wearing one of my online pairs (an $8 pair from Zenni). I got compliments on them. They always check my old glasses to verify prescription - so they checked the prescription of my $8 glasses. I never told them where I got them from and everything checked out.

I ordered new glasses (free from my insurance, but I still had to pay $40 JUST for AR coating!) and had them adjust 2 pairs - one pair was the optometrist pair from a couple years ago, one pair prescription sunglasses from WalMart. When she heard where they were from, she made sure to tell me that "she may not be able to adjust them too much since she didn't know the quality of the frames."

So it's all in their perception, and my $8 glasses passed the "blind" (har har) test! I dare you to line up all my glasses and without looking at any brandnames on the side, tell me which ones were bought online.

At January 8, 2009 at 10:32 AM Kati said...

Hi there. I find this site to be very valuable. I am new to having messed up eyes, at age 41 they seemingly went from normal to one eye not good. So I am convinced that I will get my frames from Zenni, but what about exams? I went to Costco a year and a half ago and they rushed me around from machine to machine, and never really explained anything. I got my glasses(around 200 for exam, lenses and frames) and I never really thought they were right. I went back and they said I would have to pay again for another exam. Hmm. Now I have lost my glasses, and I need to start over. We have a teaching college of Opth- something here in Fullerton, and lots of eye people. I have no vision insurance, so I have to pay. What do you suggest? Thanks in advance.

At January 8, 2009 at 11:33 AM Ira said...


The exam is going to cost roughly $50 at Costco (or Sams or Walmart). I don't know what you can get an exam for at an opth school, but likely less than that with a licensed optical pro looking on.

My suggestion once you have this (and ask for your PD!) is to order from two different retailers -- to reduce risk, especially since you'll likely wait 2-3 weeks for your new glasses.

At March 8, 2009 at 8:32 AM Anonymous said...

I bought a $7 frame at googles4you with single vision lenses for under $30 including a $9 or so surcharge for severe astigmatism in my left eye. I had my PD measured at Yale University Eye Center. When I got the glasses, I had a technician, again at Yale University Eye Center check out the glasses in the appropriate machine and she said the prescription was spot on. The lenses are high index and the frame which has flexible hinges is strong and looks no different in quality to a $100+ frame from Lenscrafters or anyone else.

I notice no distortion of vision.
As for the chains like Lenscrafters, pricing aside, an acquaintance who is an ophthalmologist at Harvard affiliated Mass Eye and Ear told me that Lenscrafters i.e., a chain, lenses and glasses were no worse than those from an optician. Does "buy local" mean I should pay hundreds more for similar glasses?

At March 26, 2009 at 11:34 PM Anonymous said...

I found a great discount optical place in Columbus, Ohio called Eyeglass Wearhouse. They sell a complete pair of glasses for $34.95 and offer fully licensed opticians who are rather old and experienced. They offer the higher end products too, but again at discounted prices. A pair of designer frames like fendi and ralph lauren for $165 complete frame and lenses. They offer everything in between and all of the possible bells and whistles you may find anywhere else, except cheaper. I highly recommend them if you're ever in the Columbus area.

At May 30, 2009 at 9:38 PM Anonymous said...

I have worked in the optical indusrty for seveal years.And i have also worked in several other retail outlets, such as shoe shop, a dress shop and a maternity wear shop.I am telling you now that markups on spectacles are NO HIGHER than on any other retail item.In fact when i sold dresses they had a higher percent mark up than specs.However, people constantly complain about the cost of specs and never about dresses.I have a few theories.
1. You have to have glasses and you never feel as good about a purchase you HAVE to make as one you want to.People pay from 100 - 600 for a dress gushing smiling loving it.The same person will grumpily pay 550 for specs, WHY?

When i worked for an optometrist he purchased a brand new 65,000 dollar machine to take photographs of the back of the eye to detect diabetic retanopathy.The cost of that machine needs to be covered by selling specs.Without that machine we were sending around 3-4 over 70-'s per day with no transport 2 hours out of their homw town on public transport to pay some one else over $200 to take that photo.He now does it Free of charge as part of a regular eye test.Selling specs help absorb this.
If you cannot comprehend that this is part of what you are paying for than you are far from informed.

If this price smashing continues several things will happen, and are begining to already.
Instead of a proffesional setrvice you will end up in Kmart having an eyetest while you purchase linen.Optometrist wages will decrase and there will be far fewer people interested in the job.

And have you asked your self WHY specs? why are they under so much scrutiny.As i have stated retail mark up percentages are higher in other industries.

And when you purchase almost any other item in retail what vital essential equipment is the mark up covering? usually nothing except basic overheads like lights and wages for a teenage girl with an attitude problem reluctant to get up an help you.

So please answer me this huy.
Why specs why not
Dental work
Cars for gods sake!!
video games
anything from as hop with the same or higher mark up why not "expose" them? just want to know why specs get the bad rap.

At May 31, 2009 at 8:40 AM AE7RS said...

Dear worker in the optical industry.

Sorry, I don't buy into your premise at all.

I have no problem with Optometrists covering their costs and making a decent living. Those costs and earning should come out of their eye exams. I would have no problem spending $100 to $200 for a proper eye exam every 2 years. However, I only want to be charged once for that service, not everytime I want to purchase a new pair of glasses.

The problem with eyeglass prices are that they bear no relationship to the intrinsic value of the parts and process. This fact is no longer being lost on the buying public. I think the old paradigm of give away the exam and pay through the nose for glasses is not long for the world.

At June 2, 2009 at 5:48 AM Anonymous said...

Well in my country all eye examination fees are covered by the government.And most optometrist wont bother to test your eyes unless the RX is more than one year old.In the case that the optometrist and patient both agree to an eye test in this instance the cost is still covered by the government, at a half fee rate.About 90% of optometrists don't bother to charge the patient the difference in fee and those that do are generally considered to be greedy.The government also has a good free glasses program for people on government benefits and a separate program for veterans.Glasses renewable every two years.Or sooner if lost or broken.some contacts even supplied for high RX.I prefer to do the free glasses.If i could just do free glasses all day i would but no shop specialises in that sole market.But even the government pays more for frames for these customers than some websites charge.I don't know how they offer such a good prices.i saw a frame online the other day with lenses cheaper than an invoice i got with the same frame same model only difference was colour.

At June 21, 2009 at 2:34 AM Anonymous said...

I've been getting my eyes checked at a local place, and my glasses from Zenni Optical, for several years now. Never had a bum pair of glasses from them. I spent $8.50 -- yes, the price of a couple of large lattes -- on a half-rim pair that I have worn daily for the last year and a half, and I also have about 15 pairs of 'novelty' glasses (different frames, colors, sunglasses, etc.) that I wear for particular looks. Total price over the years, about $200.

I have to say, this is an example of a business that Americans can't afford any more. I don't have $250 for a single pair of glasses. Optometrists can't make them any cheaper. So if I have to get my glasses from Pakistan, I will. Maybe if we get national health coverage, we can afford to buy locally again.

At August 24, 2009 at 11:51 PM Brandy said...

I've been wearing glasses since age 7. I have pretty bad myopia and astigmatism so bad that I am NOT a candidate for the current surgeries.

I was paying upwards of $300 for my regular lenses alone, even at the cheapest of places like Wally World or Sears Optical. Add frames and coatings, and it was no wonder I only got new glasses every couple of years! I never was one for designer brands, but I am one for reading and general seeing, so this made life difficult at times.

I'm SO grateful I found your site! I'm at the time of life where my vision IS changing every year, at least in one eye. I've been getting my eyes examined at the VA med center near me, and they do a VERY thorough job. But they didn't cover new glasses for me until this year.

Last year, I purchased my first pair of glasses online. I had to search a bit to find frames for my head, which is small and oddly shaped, with one ear measurably higher than the other. (I'd saved money by wearing children's frames in the past!) I also had to find a site that would make progressive lenses for my prescription. I went with They have a feature where you upload your own picture, and you can kinda see what the frames may look like on your face. Kewl! My full frame progressive high index lenses in a nice frame with all the coatings, bells, and whistles came to - $89 shipped! I hadn't had glasses so affordable since FedCo went under!

I was nervous and eager during the 2 week wait, but once I received that first pair, like yourself, I was amazed and quite pleased! I could see! I could see to read! I could read street signs while driving! Hooray!!

I then thought, well, let's get some prescription sunglasses. I bought a fun pair from an online store, which I then took in to Lenscrafters for a free adjustment. The guy worked those frames over until they sat on my crookedy head a bit better - no charge! These were less than $50, so I can get another pair any time I want!

This is the greatest thing for me. I can finally afford to get a new pair of glasses every year, at a time when my prescription is changing quite a bit! THANK YOU!

I'm also pressing my friends to do this, one of them is wearing the same glasses he wore in high school, and with the economy tanking and jobs so hard to get, my friends are so grateful I was their guinea pig!

At February 3, 2010 at 3:07 PM engnenk said...

Your statement that markup on the Silhouette frames is 1,000% uses flawed logic. The frames you are purchasing from these websites are not Silhouseete frames. They are generic knockoffs. Although they are not quite counterfeit they aren't far from it. You can buy cheap Chinese knockoff versions of many products. Please be fair and don't represent them as equals.

At June 28, 2010 at 11:14 AM Anonymous said...

As much as the professionals rebuff the cheaper alternatives to their services, I find that there is more than a lot of truth in these comments. I recently went to a long time friend of mine that owns a optician shop. I felt like I had been to a Bud Abbott and Lou Costello movie when I left. I have known this guy around 54 much for friendship. He wanted $500 for rimless with noline bifocals. No sale, sorry.

At July 12, 2010 at 12:26 AM Unknown said...

How about I throw something else into the mix? I have never needed glasses - but my seven year old now does.
I walked into a "discount" optical store this morning to get an idea of what the prices were. He is an active climb-the-nearest-tree kind of kid, so I assumed that I should get him flexible frames with shatterproof lenses (polycabonate?), and since he is outside 2 to 3 hours a day - maybe Transition lenses (automatic sunglasses) would also be a good idea. Here in Canada, eye exams for children are free, so I don't have to factor in that cost, however a basic set of Easy-twist glasses was $120 with $180 for the lenses. WOW! That's $300 for something he will outgrow in a year maybe two (or does it take longer?) I got a suggestion from a friend to skip the flexible frame and just buy him 2 pairs of glasses (1 for backup purposes).
What does an active child really need? What are the need-to-have and nice-to-have features I should be looking at? Any sugesstions?

At August 31, 2010 at 4:11 PM OneAmerican said...

The Optometrist stated: "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?"

My father was a jeweler, I worked for him for years as a youth. I was told by him and wholesalers and then later discovered (the info is easily researchable on the net) that Diamond production is not a free market. DeBeers tightly controls the allotment of diamonds on the open market. Diamonds are not rare, there are literally billions of quality diamonds. If all of the quality diamonds available were allowed to be sold on the open market, Higest Quality diamonds would sell for 10 cents (yes CENTS) PER CARAT!!!

What Diamonds ARE is an example of what is probably the most successful marketing campaign in history. The cost of Diamonds is literally a "dime a dozen".

Your optometrist used the perfect example. LOL.

At May 30, 2011 at 12:32 PM monkeyboy said...

I know this is an old article but I see people still commentiong on it. I recently went to Eyemasters to get a new pair of glasses. This was AFTER I got a cheap pair of glasses online. The company I bought from online was coastalcontacts. Was I happy with there customer service, yes. Was I happy with the quality of frames, yes. Was I happy with the lens, NO. The lens is the most important part of your glasses. I ordered the highest index frames and they were still thick and not very uniform in sharpness. As you look at the outer edges of the lens, things become distorted and blurry. I didnt remember this happening with my old lenses from Eyemasters. I looked up which lenses I purchased from them and it was the "HD Eagle Vision" ones. Back when I bought them, I remembered thinking this was a marketing gimmick. I guess I was wrong. I compared my old, broken glasses with the "HD Eagle Vision" lens to the "cheap" lens from CC. I could clearly see a difference, no pun intended. I contacted CC to see if they had similar leneses as the ones Eyemasters sold and they did not. So, I returned the glasses to CC. I started shopping online for similar lenses and I found a couple of places that sold them but they would cost $380-400 for lens and frames. I could get the same lens and frames from Eyemasters for $280.

So, I'm sure some people are "ok" with inferior lens but I can tell the difference between these special lens and the cheap ones. I use my eyes everyday. My lenses usually last 2 years, that $8.33 a month, .27 cents a day!! Don't get me wrong, I am a bargain hunter and a very frugal person. Hopefully the cheap online glasses sites start offering the high quality lenses in the future.

At December 29, 2011 at 8:27 AM Eye Shutter to Think said...

I was just treated pretty poorly at my optometrists office because I brought in my own frames (purchased on ebay, designer frames) instead of wanting to buy directly from them. I was basically shooed away because I wasn't going to value their bottom line.

So what did I do? I went online & brought two pair of glasses from Zenni Optical & two pair from Penevi. And all for LESS than the cost of one set of single vision lenses from my eye doctor.

Now I have color & style variety, glasses I love & money in my pocket to go to the movies this weekend.

So if optometrists want their customers back, they are going to have to stop acting like snobs, treat people with respect & lower their prices to match the state of the economy. Better to make some money that way than have their $300 "designer" frames collecting dust on the shelf eh?

Thanks for posting your experience! I enjoyed reading it :)

At January 25, 2012 at 10:20 PM Michael Miller said...

A "Strain-o-scope"???
Actually called a polariscope. I too am a highly trained and licensed optician and have seen many "internet" glasses. The quality might not be up to my standards, but hell, neither are most that come from other local shops. In fact, the ones from the net usually are a little better than some of the local doctor office pairs.

As for proper measurements on lined and progressive bifocals, I cannot see how they can measure for them without being in front of you with the frames properly adjusted on you before they measure. Also, with a high Rx, an unmeasured ocular height can cause induced prism.

All that being said, if it's single vision lenses, I don't know how they could screw them up.

It will be the future of optical, and I will be out of a job.

At October 22, 2012 at 10:41 AM Unknown said...

I'm very late to the party but glad it's still open for comments.

Whether or not you should buy glasses from online sites really depends on your eyes, and your needs.

For driving and casual distance viewing, I've started buying my glasses on line, and for that purpose, they're wonderful, providing the opportunity to own a variety of different styles, colors and tinted lenses, all at a reasonable price.

But I'm also older, and at the point where I can not sit at a computer screen for 8+ hours a day, and focus properly without precisely tuned progressive lenses. My computer glasses are expensive, but buying them online would not be wise, because the prescription is mapped, and can vary in accordance with the shape, size and style of the glasses/lenses selected.

When I was younger, I had no problem buying my computer glasses from a chain such as Costco or LensCrafters, but now that I'm older and my vision needs have changed, I've found that the services of a qualified optomologist has made all the difference in the world. How so? Even just his simple advise that I buy larger frames, to increase the range of progressive viewing options, has enabled me to see better, while decreasing eye strain.

A note on LASIK surgery. Yes, it can be great for some, but what they don't really tell you is that if you are older, (and WHEN you get older) if you get LASIK to correct distance viewing, it may completely ruin your ability to see things up close, and can necessitate reading glasses, many years before you would normally need them. Yes, there are subsequent surgeries which can correct this, but how many eye surgeries do you want to endure? Especially when you consider the fact that, as you age, your vision can start changing every few years , and you could end up having to go in for surgery every 3 to 5 years to retain the ability to read without glasses.

My up close vision is far more important to me than distance viewing, so I would never even consider LASIK. Since LASIK surgery, my husband now needs reading glasses, but he couldn't navigate his way down the hallway before without his glasses or contacts, so reading glasses are a trade off he's willing to live with.


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