One of my sons recently had his first visit to the optometrist. There was no surprise that like his mother and father he needed glasses. What was a shock though was the price the local optometrist wanted for glasses for an eight year old: $400! Were they serious? Have they never seen how eight-year old boys treat their possesions?
Luckily, I’m a big fan of the super cheap eyeglasses you can find online. I’ve been reading the GlassyEyes blog for years, and whenever I need new glasses, I visit an optometrist or two and find some frames that I like, and then I write down the identifying information on the inside of the frame and then take my search online, where I can order both the frames and the perscription for much less.
I can usually get glasses that would have cost four or five hundred dollars for about a hundred. Since I live the in middle of nowhere and like to chop wood, weed-whack brushy fields and other chores that involves little pieces of eyeglass destroying stuff, I always have an extra pair or two around, as well. I never pay more than $50 for those, but there are sites where you can get frames and lenses delivered for about $20.
Why is the industry so overpriced? Maybe this quote from Business Week will help explain things:
A quick primer, then, on the $16 billion optical industry: Luxottica (LUX), based in Milan, is one of the heavyweights in question. It owns LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, and the optical shops in Target (TGT) and Sears (SHLD); it owns Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Oliver Peoples; it manufactures, under license, eyewear for more than 20 top brands, including Chanel, Burberry, Prada, and Stella McCartney. “They’ve created the illusion of choice,” says Gilboa. And inadvertently they’ve created an opening for an indie anti-brand brand such as Warby Parker. Luxottica declined to comment.
Photo by x-ray delta one.
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