The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Why Are Eye Glasses So Expensive?

Mar 4, 2019

We pay a lot for prescription eyeglasses (lenses plus frames) if we want a decent new pair. The prices can easily start at $100 and can go up to $800, even more. People shelled out an average of $275 after insurance for new glasses in 2016, according to Consumer Reports.

Why are they so expensive? After all, the lenses are made of plastic, and the frames consist of thin plastic parts and metal wires. Considering these materials and work that goes into manufacturing lenses and frames, which is mostly done by automated machines, the eyeglasses should not be more than $20 to $30.

But this market is cornered by a handful of companies, among them, Luxottica. The company is not known by its name among the public. It owns major brands including Armani, Brooks Brothers, Oakley, Polo, Ralph Lauren, and Versace. Luxottica also runs EyeMed Vision Care, LensCrafters, Sears Optical, and Target Optical. This company also owns Essilor, one of the largest lens manufacturers in the world.

About 50% of the adults in the U.S. wear eyeglasses, according to the Vision Council, an industry group. That's roughly 126 million people purchasing new eyeglasses every few years. These consumers are paying 10 to 20 times what frames and lenses actually cost, according to the Los Angeles Times. A lot of profit out of thin plastics and wires!