Charles Dahan knows from firsthand experience how badly people get ripped off when buying eyeglasses. He was once one of the leading suppliers of frames to LensCrafters, before the company was purchased by optical behemoth Luxottica. He also built machines that improved the lens-manufacturing process.
“There is no competition in the industry, not anymore, Luxottica bought everyone. They set whatever prices they please.”
The company’s owned and licensed brands include Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace. Along with LensCrafters, Luxottica also runs Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical, as well as the insurer EyeMed Vision Care.
When he was in the business, in the 1980s and ’90s, Dahan said it cost him between $10 and $16 to manufacture a pair of quality plastic or metal frames. Lenses, he said, might cost about $5 a pair to produce. With fancy coatings, that could boost the price all the way to $15.
I was really shocked a few years back being lured into a prescription glasses company with a base price that was not too expensive, but once I had opted for the anti-reflective coating, the multi-focal lenses, the darkening lenses, etc the price had doubled. Years late now I've just not bothered to go back and get newer ones as I'm just not paying that price again.
It's probably why I also see more and more online prescription optometrists appearing where you can at least shop and compare from the comfort of your own home. If you have your eye test prescription results any qualified optometrist should be able to help you. The prices are much cheaper online and many sites even have a 3D video preview with your own face (they guide you on how to record a selfie-video - mine was done in 30 secs and then showing all glasses on my own face).