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The Value of Vision: A Breakdown of Eyewear Costs

Posted on September 30th, 2015

Eyeglasses have come a long way from the days when they were considered a necessary medical device. Today, they're as much about fashion as they are functionality, with thousands of brands and styles to choose from using new materials and designs. The technology behind eyeglasses has also changed dramatically over the past few decades, with new lens materials and techniques offering sharper and more focused vision, and use for specialized tasks such as working on a computer or digital device.

With glasses now designed to fit a variety of styles, eye conditions, prescriptions and tasks, the price of glasses can vary a great deal. Below are a few factors that come into play when determining the cost of your eyewear.

Eyewear frames play a huge role in determining cost, with prices depending on the style, quality and brand of frames you choose. Luxury brands do carry a higher price tag due to the type of materials and name, but there are also plenty of other lower cost options to choose from. It's important to consider the quality and durability of the materials (cheaper glasses can end up costing more over the longer run as they may not be as durable). One additional important thing to note is that the price of most brands of eyewear frames is dictated by the manufacturer and not the retailer. 

When it comes to eyewear most people tend to focus on the frames rather than lenses, and as a result can end up with glasses that look stylish, but don't offer a great vision experience. Unfortunately, the quality of lenses varies greatly depending on the manufacturer and type of lens. The type of prescription you require can also have an impact on the cost of your glasses. For individuals suffering from presbyopia (i.e. difficulty seeing both far and near distances), basic bifocals or trifocals are usually the cheapest option, but offer a sub-par vision experience and aren't as aesthetically pleasing. Progressive lenses are a better option, but also tend to have a one-size-fits-all solution to match a particular prescription. The best (and most costly) option are customized lenses, such as Internal Freeform lenses. These types of lenses are custom designed using 3D digital imaging software to meet the specific individual needs of the wearer (something that's not available with traditional bifocals and progressives). Many patients compare the experience with Internal Freeforms to switching from a standard definition television to an HD television. While the cost of these types of lenses can be significant, they offer a substantial improvement in terms of clarity, depth and focus. 

There are several coating options that can enhance your vision experience and prolong the life of your eyewear. And while some people may dismiss coatings as an unnecessary "upsell", they can greatly enhance the quality and longevity of your eyewear. In fact, some opticians would argue that coatings - such as scratch resistant and anti-static options - actually pay for themselves in that they allow glasses to last longer and avoid damage.

Here are some of the common coating options and their benefits.

  • Anti-reflection – reduces glare and reflections 
  • Super Hydrophobic – repels water and fog
  • Anti-Static – repels dust and fine debris
  • Scratch Resistant – protects lenses from scratches
  • Easy Clean – Super oleophobic coating reduces smudges and fingerprints

With an array of styles, designs and brands available, it's easy to forget that the primary purpose of glasses is to help you see, with most people wearing their eyeglasses for 15 hours or more a day. So when the time comes for you to price out glasses it's important to ask yourself what's more important: fashion, savings or seeing the world in the best way possible? 

To find the perfect lenses, coating and frames for your budget, prescription and style, book an appointment at an FYidoctors near you.