There have been a lot of stories counseling Americans not to buy eyeglasses from their local eye doctor. This is not only bad from a personal health perspective but also from a personal finance perspective.
Here are some facts that everyone needs to know before choosing their specs.
1) Retail (e.g., Pearle Vision, LensCrafters) is NOT always cheaper! Independent research shows that buying glasses at an independent eye doctor is still less expensive than at many corporate retail chains…by a lot! When you add vision coverage, like VSP Vision Care to the mix (which nearly 20% of Americans have), that price is even lower.
For example, a consumer who purchases a Ray-Ban frame with progressive lenses will save $595 with VSP coverage at an independent eye doctor versus using an insurance company focused on retail store sales and purchasing glasses at LensCrafters ($746 vs. $151).
2) If you have a complex prescription, many online retailers can’t make you glasses. The little secret that most online sites don’t advertise is the fact that they only sell single vision lenses, not progressives. Or if they do sell progressives, that you are responsible for providing your measurements. So if you have a complex prescription, need glasses to help you see at multiple distances, or are over the age of 40, the chances you won’t be seeing as clearly as you could are pretty high!
3) Beyond price, glasses need to do more than just look good. Glasses are unique in that they are the only fashionable medical device (so far!). Your glasses must be customized to you in every way to maximize their role to help you see clearly. And, while can find some great values online, your eye doctor should, and must, play a critical role in helping you select the best frame and lenses that are right for your individual needs. Just a few things your eye doctor and their staff ensure:
- Up-to-date prescription: Your eye doctor will make sure your prescription hasn’t changed and your eyes are healthy through a comprehensive eye exam before picking out your new style. This is especially critical for young children whose eyesight can change regularly. Glasses with the wrong prescription don’t help you see!
- Lens options: Lenses may seem like an afterthought, but the right ones can make a big difference. Today’s digital lens technology is more affordable than ever before, especially with vision insurance, and makes a huge difference in helping you to see your best. Your eye doctor and their staff are a great resource to learn about specialized lenses and coatings to fit and enhance your personal lifestyle needs.
- Measured to fit your face: Measurements are essential to ensure that your prescription works for you. Because your face is unique so are the way your lenses fit your frames! Your eye doctor and their staff will take your personal measurements to ensure that once your new frames are in hand, they fit your face properly and not only look good on you but help you see.
4) Buying discounted frames online may cost you money in the long run. If you find a deal that is too good to be true online, it probably is. Extremely discounted designer and brand name glasses sold online are usually done so through a “gray market,” which is unofficial, unauthorized or unintended sales by the original manufacturer. This is important to know because, if these glasses malfunction, you may not have an option to get them fixed under warranty. If you purchase through your eye doctor, you have the confidence in their direct relationship with the frame manufacturer.
This is a guest post from VSP Vision Care President Jim McGrann.