Prescription glasses cost most people at least a couple hundred dollars — on top of an eye exam — but they don’t have to.
That’s the message from Consumer Reports, which surveyed nearly 19,500 readers and found they spent a median of $244 out-of-pocket on their current prescription eyewear. That means half paid more than that and half paid less.
By comparison shopping at discounters like Costco and BJ’s as well as online, the magazine’s team was able to knock more than 40 percent off the prices of frames and lenses.
You can do it too. We cover what you need to get those savings in the video below. Check it out:
One of the reasons prices are so high, and that people are willing to pay them, is that glasses are part seeing and part being seen. They’re both vision correction and fashion statement, CR says. But another reason is that two companies have a stranglehold on the industry.
Luxottica owns LensCrafters, Pearl Vision, vision centers at Sears and Target, insurer EyeMed, and many popular brands including Ray-Ban and Oakley, CR says. VSP Global similarly owns a major insurer, an eyewear company, and labels such as Calvin Klein and Fendi.
There is plenty of competition outside that bubble. Here are a few sites we’ve found that get decent reviews:
- Zenni Optical – glasses start at $6.95.
- EyeBuyDirect.com – glasses start at $6.95 with free anti-scratch coating.
- Optical4Less – glasses start at $15.
- 39DollarGlasses.com – prices start at $39 with occasional sales.
There are plenty more. But as we warn in the video, quality and service vary. It’s important to check each site’s return policy and look for consumer complaints at sites like Ripoff Report or Complaint Wire before buying.