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

Here’s (another, albeit fun) take on the ripoff.


39dollarglasses, zenni, lensabl, optical4less

lensabl is the only one i am aware of, which wants you to mail in your own frames and they just make cheap lenses to fit them.

the other ones require you to buy frames. afaik.


I’m not sure I would feel comfortable putting “cheap” contact lenses in my eyes, despite the markup prices


Your eyes sound like mine. I stopped asking how bad my eyes were when I could no longer read the top line of the eye chart (you know, that giant E) without glasses.


Can we do hearing aids next? Three grand or so for twenty bucks worth of electronics is a bit much.


This is exactly my issue, too. Crazy strong script, trifocals, the need for high-index, plus a nice dollop of astigmatism. I’ve always simply gotten glasses from the shop attached to my optometrist’s office. It quite obviously expensive, but my prescription is pretty touchy, and they’ve never had a problem with having new lenses made (at no further cost to me) if the first set was off. I’ve not seen any of the online retailers offer anything close to that level of service.

I’d love to give online glasses a shot, but the spectre of having to live with lenses that are just a bit off really concerns me. I’ve lived in glasses for over 50 years, and my experience over that time is that, sometimes, mistakes are made in grinding the lenses and a new set must be made.


There’s an obvious solution…


This is super cool to know, because I often see really neat vintage frames at antique shows, but the few times I’ve gone into opticians to see about getting lenses made to fit them, they’ve given me big heavy sighs and eye-rolls and been like “ugh, we’d rather not…”


zenni, also started offering near and mid range progressive lenses. They call them workplace-progressives. I have a set of near range at work just for computer work and have been pretty happy with them.

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I’ve been buying my contact lenses from for a while now. These are the same name brand my optometrist was recommending (Hydrosoft), but way cheaper. Like I can order a 3-pack for a little more than what a single lens would cost. I have a strong prescription, plus astigmatism, so my lenses are kind of expensive, but I’ve saved a lot buying online.
For contact lenses you need a contact lens prescription that has all the extra info about the size of your eye, etc., and they will only honor the prescription for one year. So when I get a new prescription, I put an order in right away, then order again right before it expires.


Thanks for the shoutout @joshsamuels and @Neovison.vison!

Yeah, if anyone here has questions regarding the optical world, or needs anything specific, just hit me up at Lab Rabbit Optics. I’m the owner and can make a lot of things happen that other shops can’t. :wink:


Exactly! Cheaper frames is cool and all, but a not-insignificant portion of the cost of my glasses is in the high-index lens material. It’s not optional, either; even if my prescription in poly wouldn’t be heavy enough to fall off my face (it would), I literally wouldn’t have room to blink. I like blinking. :wink:


I’ve gotten a few pairs from Zenni that were a bit off, they redid the lenses for free. And most sites will.

The bigger problem is that complicated prescriptions cost quite a bit more, there are up charges for different materials, coatings, higher index lenses, and the other features you need with really bad eye sight.

So depending on the site they aren’t necessarily just try it cheap. And from what I’ve been told can often cut pretty close to the out of pocket when you use your insurance.

Provided you can find a site that’ll fill your script it might be worth it for spares and sunglasses, but I’ve met few people with really bad eyesight who use it for primary glasses unless they’re insuranceless. It just doesn’t save enough money to make it worth it in that situation.

I still remember getting diagnosed with nearsightedness the first time, in my early teens. I had my eyes dilated and was a bit upset at the news I’d have to wear glasses for the rest of my life (pre-LASIK days). Instead of getting my parents, or at least taking me to the usual darkened waiting room, the assholes escorted me to a brightly lit room with a meager selection of glasses frames. Then the optometrist mumbled “pick out your glasses” and wandered off, leaving me half blinded and trying vainly to even see the frames, much less the prices. They didn’t even give me those janky roll-up sunglasses first.

Fortunately, my folks found me 20 minutes or so later, standing in the corner and squinting in a mirror, with a poorly fitting set of frames wedged on my face. We left, watched a movie in a darkened theater until the dilation drugs wore off (which I highly recommend as a post-ophthalmologist exam ritual), and hit the local one-hour glasses place. They, at least, seemed invested in getting me the right glasses and frames. I’m sure they broke the bank, especially after all the extra coatings and such they talked us into (“This one blocks Berthold rays and cosmic radiation!” “Sold!”). But dang I looked good.

I got LASIK and RK (one eye each, long story) in the late 90s, as one of my first major purchases after getting a real job, but I still catch myself pushing invisible glasses up my nose. Fortunately I didn’t blind myself permanently post-surgery, from neglecting to duck tree branches and other minor obstructions. Never realized how much I depended on my giant aviator style glasses as eye protection until I no longer wore them. Still, despite the loss of the permanent safety goggles, I’d say corrective eye surgery was the best money I’ve ever spent.


I was 8. And refused to wear my terribly 80’s/early 90’s glasses in public for years. I was told I only had to wear them when I needed them the chalkboard at school, TV. Which made it easy to leave the house with them in a pocket and just never put them on. I’m pretty sure that all those people with nostalgia for middle school gym class sports like dogeball are people who never wore glasses as a kid. Shit made you a target.

By the time I was 12 I realized I couldn’t see faces from 3 feet away and gave up. By highschool glasses had become fashionable and kids with perfect eyesight were wearing “fashion frames” with blank lenses. Around the same time acetate frames came back into style.

As for the surgery. I look odd without the specs, chunky square frames are a great way to compensate for eyes that are too close together.

But there’s been a growing scandal around lasic and some of the other surgeries. Lot of people with chronic dry eye, chronic pain, or eye sight that’s worse then they started with. Apparently the industry went crazy for it because it’s such a money maker. They push it on people who are bad candidates and have colluded to hide the side effects and volume of complications.

So glad it worked out for you, but people should be careful with that.


Yes. In addition, I think that Luxottica’s influence has driven up the wholesale prices (thus retail prices) of other non Luxottica frame manufacturers. I own a on-line eyeglass business and have seen wholesale prices increase dramatically over the years. Retailers now pay “retail” pricing instead of wholesale pricing. Ex: a good $10.00 wholesale frame can now cost $30 or more.

It gets worse because it’s not just eyeglass frames, it’s lenses too. Luxottica and Essilor have merged. Essilor has been taking over the optical lens industry, buying up independent brands and lens labs. Perfect fit, right?

Consider this too: Eyemed is the second largest eye care plan. Want to guess who owns Eyemed?


It has been many moons since I’ve been able to read that E.

Not a candidate for laser surgery either, they’re still degrading at a decent clip.

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Yeah, lasik was great at first, but at the ten year mark your eyes fall out.

Anyone recommend a UK-based cheap alternative?

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