Does anyone in your family wear eyeglasses? You’ve probably already figured out that eyeglasses cost a lot of money, even if you have insurance. There’s one main reason why eyeglasses cost so much.
One company makes almost all of the eyeglass frames your eye doctor sells. That same company owns all of the major chain stores that sell eyeglasses and sunglasses, too.
That gives them quite a bit of leeway in pricing. If you have vision insurance, there’s probably a limit of $100 to $150 on eyeglasses per plan year. That means that a pair of glasses can still cost you a few hundred dollars, even if you have good vision insurance. Here’s what you need to know to save hundreds of dollars every time you buy new eyeglasses for yourself or someone in your family.
This post may contain affiliate links; please read my disclosure here.
Your Prescription is Yours
Your eye doctor needs to give you a copy of your eyeglasses prescription upon request so that you can buy your glasses whenever and where ever you wish. You don’t have to buy glasses from your eye doctor’s office.
The Secret to Cheap Glasses
The secret to finding cheap glasses is to buy them somewhere outside of the realm of the company that monopolizes most of the eyeglass frames on the market. How can you get out from under that company’s thumb?
- Certain online vendors such as Warby Parker
To use my own family as an example, my older daughter got her first pair of eyeglasses at age 10 from an eye doctor’s office. The cost, after insurance, was a couple of hundred bucks. Ouch!
The following year, we went to Walmart. I paid our $15 copayment for the exam and another $15 copayment for the glasses. That’s $30 total for an eye exam and glasses. Even without insurance, the glasses would have cost about $100 – far less than glasses from a regular eye doctor’s office.
She’s been back to see that eye doctor a couple of times since then, and I’ve bought her eyeglasses covered by insurance plus glasses to use as backups. At Walmart, eyeglasses are affordable even without insurance coverage. Plus, if she breaks them, as preteens and teens are prone to do, we can go back and get them fixed at no charge, right there at Walmart.
Walmart, Costco and online eyeglass vendors offer gorgeous and extensive selections of quality frames and all of the same types of lenses your eye doctor has, including progressive lenses, bifocals and prescription sunglasses. Plus, Warby Parker offers a Free Home Try-On program.
I’ve also bought a pair of eyeglasses for my daughter from an online vendor, and my husband has bought several pairs of glasses online from different online eyeglass sellers. He did not find frames he liked at Walmart.
Those eyeglass frames carrying a famous designer’s label probably weren’t created by that person or company. They almost certainly charged a licensing fee to allow the eyeglass frame company to use their name. If you pay extra for a designer name, that’s all you are buying – a name slapped on your eyeglasses frames. You can probably find a similar pair of frames without the designer label at a much lower cost somewhere else.
The Monopoly Grows
The company that makes most of the eyeglass frames in optometrists’ offices and retail eyeglass stores recently merged with the largest maker of eyeglass lenses. That hands them an even bigger piece of the market for eyewear than they already had, which was pretty significant to start with.
The Bottom Line
You’re not getting better eyeglasses or prescription sunglasses if you buy them from your eye doctor. You’re just spending more money.
I’m not saying that your eye doctor is ripping you off. I have no idea how much he or she makes on each pair of glasses.
I’m simply letting you know that you have options, and that shopping around for eyeglasses is definitely worth your time.
Walmart or an online retailer will almost certainly charge a lot less for eyeglasses than your optometrist’s office. I’ve never been to Costco, but they sell eyeglasses for reasonable prices, too. I’ve also heard that if you don’t have a Costco membership, the store might let you browse their eyeglasses frames before you decide whether to purchase a membership.
How About You?
Where do you buy your family’s eyeglasses? Did you know you could take your eyeglasses prescription and buy your glasses where ever you’d like? Did you know there was such an enormous difference in prices depending on where you buy eyeglasses?