Why is there a large range in Eyewear Pricing?
Why do some glasses cost $39 and others over $1000? How can I tell if I am getting good value? These are great questions, and we have straight answers.
Frame Materials and Construction
As with most consumer goods, there will always be something for every budget. Lower grade frames can be sourced from China for less than $5 wholesale. They are generally quite stiff, cannot be repeatedly adjusted, have cheaper hinges that loosen quickly and use lower grade dyes and paints. Quality control is variable. Cheaper plastic frames tend to be very stiff, flat in color, and lose adjustment quickly. Nickel alloy frames are also inexpensive, but can cause skin reactions when the protective paint wears off, and their brittle nature requires thicker, heavier construction. As you move up in price, the metals are more lightweight, flexible, and hypo-allergenic. These include stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, and memory metal alloys. They use high-quality European hinges and multi-layered paint finishes, similar to high-end automobiles. Higher quality plastics are more flexible, with multi-layer plastic sheets adding strength and color depth. In the luxury frame category, rare woods, crystals, and custom hand finishing add touches of class.
Optical Lens Design and Manufacturing
Basic single vision prescription lenses are mass produced and can be bought wholesale for less than $10 per pair. These lenses are often made of polycarbonate, a lightweight and impact resistant plastic also known as plexiglass. Unfortunately, their soft nature allows them to scratch easily (even when coated), and this material has the poorest optical quality of all available lens materials. As you move up in price, you go from cheap single layer coatings to multi-layered anti-glare and hardcoats that can be as hard as glass and transmit over 99.5% of visible light without reflection. Higher “index” materials allow for thinner and lightweight lenses that do not sacrifice optical quality. Newer “digital” lenses use complex computer mapping to custom design lenses that account for the frame shape, distance away from your eye, and how you move your eyes for different tasks. These lenses are custom cut with very expensive machinery using laser guided diamond tipped tools for incredible accuracy. High-quality progressive (multifocal) lenses made in this way can be individually compensated to minimize distortion to levels impossible with mass-produced lens blanks. Photochromic (lenses that darken outdoors) and polarized options can also add to the cost.
Not surprisingly, the level of customer service provided will make its way into the final cost of a product. At our office, this is generally in the range of 10-15%. This is the “cost” of operating a bricks and mortar gallery with a large inventory, as well as the highly trained opticians and dispensers who go to school to learn how to properly select, fit, adjust, and choose frames and lenses based on your unique visual demands. This also includes verification for accuracy and our no-hassle non-adapt policy. This means we can make lens design changes free of charge within the first 2 months if you have any issues with your new glasses. This also pays for the lifetime frame maintenance services, and 2 year unconditional warranty on premium products. You can rest assured that your investment is protected, and any service issues will be handled both personally and professionally.
We strongly believe that there should be choice in the marketplace. There are online options and many discount optical retailers in Alberta. Unfortunately, judging the quality of the final product is not so easy. We recognize the need for affordable, quality eyewear options so we offer quality frame and lens packages starting as low as $169 including a one year warranty against defects in workmanship of both frames and lenses. We can ensure proper fit, centration, and prescription accuracy, and offer maintenance services at no charge for the lifetime of your glasses. It is our goal to show you the value of different frame and lens choices so that you can make an educated decision on what is best for you.