How much is too much to pay for glasses?
Being in the optical business for 15+ years, I've pretty much figured out how to properly answer the most commonly asked questions. These frames aren't made in Italy, are they any good? All of these frames are made by the same company right? Why does it take so long to have my glasses made?
These are all good questions and I have good (polite) answers for each. But the most difficult of the commonly asked questions to answer is "why are your glasses so expensive?" Well... that's a tricky one to answer.
You see, "expensive" is a relative and subjective term. Most people don't use the word expensive when a service or product passes a pre-established threshold, they use it when the price of the item/service is greater than the value they have placed on it. Since that value is subjective the answer to the question is not straightforward.
The average cost of prescription glasses:
Keep in mind that I don't regularly work with $600+ luxury eyewear. The frames I work with average around $200 - $300 and that doesn't include lenses. An average order could come out to $450 - $850 depending on the lens style (single vision or multifocal) and optional add-ons (Anti-glare, Hi-Index and Transitions). Is that "expensive"? Maybe it is if we're just comparing the basic function of a frame.
Here's an example of how the question is usually presented to me. Frame A from eyes-r-us is $50 and frame B from you is $250. Why is frame B so expensive if they are both frames?
Yes, both are frames but not all frames are created equal. Some are made with higher quality materials, some frame companies have patented designs, others have colors that are exclusive to their brand and some collections are even made with organic materials like recycled beach wood.
Let's break this down real simple:
The average American worker spends $1,000 per year on coffee, $2,500 a year on entertainment and since half of all smartphone users upgrade yearly, that's another $700+. That's a lot of money going towards things that don't affect your health and well-being. (Sorry, coffee is not considered medically necessary. Though I'd vote to make it so.)
Why don't more people buy Costco coffee in bulk, brew it at home and save hundreds? Why don't the 90 million American iPhone users trade in their "expensive" device for a free MetroPCS phone? (I mean no offense) Coffee is coffee and a phone is a phone right? Apparently not. Millions of people believe that they can tell the difference in quality and that leads them to justify the expense.
A high quality frame with single vision lenses, Zeiss or Crizal anti-glare coating and Trivex plastic will cost your around $500. If you keep those glasses for 2 years the daily cost is around $0.70. That's about 614% less than a venti frappuccino from starbucks.
So how much is too much to pay for glasses?
You can get glasses for $20 online but that doesn't mean paying $200 for glasses is too much. $200 is considered low-priced eyewear in most cities in America. Even the popular Warby Parker charges around $150 for their basic glasses order.
Without any vision insurance I'd say you should set aside around $450 for single vision prescription glasses. If you need progressives then set aside around $850. That price will typically get you a good quality frame and high quality lenses and coatings that will last you years. If you select a $500 designer frame then the price will go up real quick.
To each their own, but is it's hard to believe a person can justify the "expensive" coffee and phone yet not see the need to invest in the quality of their vision. I can understand someone that doesn't need to wear them full-time. If all you need is low powered reading glasses then I can see why you wouldn't want to spend the money.
To those that depend on their glasses, much like myself, I suggest investing in your quality of vision. Work with an experienced optician and they will show you that there are good quality frames that don't have to cost you giving up your Venti Frap. It will be money well spent.
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