New eyewear, updating your old frames or replacing broken ones can come at a hefty price. And if you’re among the two-thirds of adults who need glasses or contact lenses, that cost is almost unavoidable.
Ever wonder why they’re so expensive? Last month, a team at “60 Minutes” looked into it. They found that one Italian company, Luxottica, controls the lion’s share of the market. They manufacture most of the designer brands: Gucci, Prada, Ray Ban, Oakley, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Chanel, Chaps, Paul Smith. If that’s not enough, Luxottica also owns and/or runs retail channels like Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical, Sunglass Hut, and Oliver Peoples. Luxottica is the largest eyewear company on the planet and its CEO estimates that half a billion people are wearing one of their products.
They set the price and we pony up an average $200 per new pair.
Here are 3 ways to save:
Check Your Coverage
Before you pay for anything out of pocket, check your health insurance too see what’s covered. Many plans allow for some of the cost of vision expenses, like one annual eye exam and a part of the cost of new glasses. Also, if your employer offers a flexible spending account, eyeglasses are just the kind of expense you should use it on. With an FSA, you can use pre-tax funds to make the purchase, saving you overall. Most FSAs cover eye exams, prescription glasses and sunglasses, reading glasses, contact lenses and solution.
Take Advantage of Promotions
Another way to save on eyeglasses is to take advantage of deals offered by retailers. For example, right now at Pearle Vision, you can get 50% off of eyeglasses when you buy contacts. They have a separate buy-one-get-one-free deal – perfect for the accident-prone. Getting your extra pair free will save you in the long run in case your regulars are lost or broken.
Finally, online eyewear retailers are sweeping the market. Sites like Zenni Optical, Warby Parker and Classic Specs have quickly swept in to become a low-cost alternative to traditional retailers. Online, you can get a complete pair of single-vision glasses from $50 to $100. To make sure you get the pair you want, Warby Parker will even send you five pairs to try on at no cost before making your pick.
Photo Courtesy, William Wu.