Why glasses are so expensive

I was just thinking about this. Every two years, I go into a panic, wondering where I’m going to get the money to update my glasses. (Although the next time, I’m going to try one of those online places, since they now offer progressive lenses.)

But if we had single-payer healthcare, this wouldn’t be an issue.

4 thoughts on “Why glasses are so expensive

  1. Mainly because one Italian company, Italian Luxottica Group S.p.A., owns most of the major American outlets like Sears, Lenscrafters, etc.


    For my last pair of glasses, I shopped a physical store for the frames I liked, ordered them online, then had them lensed at a local shop in CR39 resin (not some super expensive, very fragile polycarbonates that depend on the super expensive coatings to protect them from scratching). I had an old pair of frames lensed in CR39 with my old fixed script (not progressive) for computer use at 39dollar glasses dot com and the work was good.

    Polycarbonate is the same material from which plastic water bottles are made and polycarbonate is, in fact, derived from the reaction between bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor, and phosgene gas, which was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. Interestingly, bulletproof glass is made from polycarbonates and polycarbonates are noted for their extreme impact resistance, making them well-suited for safety applications. Despite its durability, the material has very low scratch resistance — think a plastic water bottle — necessitating application of a hard anti-scratch coating for optical use. Impact resistance does not equal scratch resistance.

    CR-39 hard resins, on the other hand, are inherently scratch resistant. The CR-39 name indicates that this was the 39th formula of the Columbia Resins project of 1940. Wikipedia also says that the first commercial use of the CR-39 was to help create glass-reinforced fuel tanks for B-17 bombers during World War II. After the war, the Armorlite Lens Company made the first CR-39 eyeglass lenses in 1947. CR-39 is a trademarked product of PPG Industries.

    The optician was visibly let down when I told him I wanted CR39 lenses — less expensive, you see.

  2. The thing with glasses is that the frames cost a lot more than the lenses. Alternatives include shopping for used or vintage frames, or using an onterne wholesaler like zenni optical if you have your prescription and pupil distance, you can save a LOT of money.

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