The eyeglass industry is a ripoff, with "markups often approaching 1,000%"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/05/the-eyeglass-industry-is-a-rip.html

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The article makes it clear, but for those who don’t read the article it is worth noting that the largest player in the market controls about 30% of the global eyeglass business, particularly any brand you have probably heard of. Luxottica is a monster and is largely controlled by one dude.

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“It’s ridiculous. It’s a complete rip-off.”

Ripe for a lot more ‘disruption’, then, hopefully.

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Zenni Optical user here. I have bought glasses at $17 a pair that resemble ones I paid 500 for, and last about 80% as long.

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Where can I get ones that aren’t marked up?

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I used them for years, but I started having trouble getting frames from them that are large enough to look right on my face. The physical size of them would be fine, but the proportions would be far to narrow across the face. More recently it was difficult to find frames that would fit at all or could accommodate my PD.

Quality was pretty variable, but improved a lot over time.

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The last time I purchased eyeglasses from a brick-and-mortar store was a few years ago when I paid something like $80 for glasses after insurance (and there was a very small number of styles to choose from when you’re using insurance). After that, I bought some prescription sunglasses and a pair of backups from Eyebuydirect for maybe $50 combined. Since then, I’ve gone exclusively online for glasses purchases. The really cheap glasses are cheap (those backup glasses didn’t hold up very well, but for $10 or whatever, who cares), but a $30 pair will hold up just as well as anything I’ve bought from a store. For kids’ glasses, it’s great because when my child broke her glasses a couple weeks ago, I didn’t really care (although I have yet to get her new ones because it’s about time for an eye exam anyway - just fixed the glasses with a tiny bit of FORMcard and it’s held fine).

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Nothing new… CBC had a show about this a while back:

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And yet, I will pay that much for glasses from independent shops/independent designers, which luckily we have a lot of in Chicago. (When I have that kinda money, which is not very often.) It’s like buying art, or custom jewelry for your face.

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60 Minutes first ran an expose of Luxottica back in 2012. Not much has changed.

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Well, darn. Should have looked into this a little more before I plunked down a wad of cash a few weeks ago.

It can be a challenge buying something so central to one’s appearance without first trying it on or receiving hands-on help with fitting.

If the prices are really that much better, you could no doubt buy a couple of unsuitable pairs first and still come out ahead.

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Another vote for Zenni. It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve paid retail for glasses. My last pair was the most expensive since then. A whopping $50. But I got springed frames, high refractive index PC, and photochromic treatment. That’s in addition to the usual UV and other coatings.

My wife buys the $7 glasses in a couple colors. Both as spares and to match outfits.

My son, well, he’s hard on glasses. I glue and tape them, but at some point you still need to let those $15 glasses go.

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They also let you upload a picture of your face, mark the pupils, and enter your pupil distance. Then you get to see how you’d look with the frames.

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Where does everyone get their subscriptions? I used to get mine at Costco but let our membership lapse. I assume to go to a local non-chair optometrist, but always feel guilty not getting my glasses with them since I assume their business model depends on profit from over-priced glasses markup.

so, where’s the good online places, then? i notice not even Warby Parker charges $8 for frames.

They are probably the exact same frames. Most eyewear that comes from a fashion brand is made by Luxottica and use the names under license. They basically have the monopoly on eyewear.

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Yeah it’s amazing how expensive the frames alone are. Come on, you can get sunglasses for like 10 bucks at a gas station. Now assuming these are better made, you can’t tell me $200 is still a good price.

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The only hard part of getting glasses from Zenni or Warby Parker or whatever is when your optometrist takes you to the glasses display and looks at you like:

200

You have to be strong!

Also, anyone got a rec on similarly cheap contact lenses?

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Is this news? I’ve worn glasses nearly all my life, and recognized since I started paying for them myself that there’s no way the materials involved cost as much as the finished glasses do at retail. Not that they’re alone among cost-inflated consumer goods.

I got my last glasses from Warby Parker for $85 five years ago and thought that was a bargain. This thread has been a gold mine. Can’t wait to pay even less for my next ones.

I hope people know that they can also get any off-the-shelf sunglasses or reading glasses from gas stations or antique stores and just get the lenses replaced at an optician.

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