For those of us that wear glasses…recall the time you purchased your last pair. Isn’t it a painful memory? Glasses that cost in the neighborhood of $25-$50 to make are selling for $400 a pair or more. But what about if we said that you could purchase high index lenses—often the more expensive type of eyewear—for a low of $25.99?
Some might say it’s because of a monopoly
If you watch TruTV, you might be familiar with the segment Adam Ruins Everything. The series is about breaking common misconceptions. In one episode, they cover why are glasses so expensive. They point to one company in particular, Luxottica, claiming that the company controls 80% of eyewear brands, many optometry chains as well as the second-largest vision insurer.
While the 80% figure has been challenged, it’s clear that Luxottica has a very strong market share in North America by net sales, and that according to IBISWorld, it is a global market leader. To cite a recent IBISWorld report (April 2018), Luxottica has a leading 29.1% of the market share of Eye Glass Stores in the US, followed by National Vision (11%) and Highmark (8.4%) with the remaining 51.5% not owned by any one company but fragmented across numerous small players.
What’s clear is that Luxottica is a dominant player with very aggressive tactics, and you end up paying more for their glasses. A 2008 article by Consumers Digest cites:
“The federal government barely blinked when Luxottica Group, the world’s largest frame manufacturer, extended its reach and influence beyond design. It now controls 20 percent of the retail market in the United States, including ownership of national chain stores, such as LensCrafters and Pearle Vision. On top of it all, you’re paying way too much. From the local doctor’s office to the well-known retail chain, these places mark up the price of your frames and lenses by about 250 percent.” Source
So what can you do about it?
Amidst all this outrage about the price gouging by big players in the eyeglass market, emerged small players dedicated to offering affordable high index eyewear. For example, Payne Glasses offers stylish glasses as low as $5.95, and none of their glasses exceed $40. They offer a variety of high quality men’s, women’s and kid’s glasses in many different styles with high-index or blue blocking lens types.