Eyewear consumers most often are concerned about:
1. Is there a trick behind the 50% off sale?
2. Are ‘add-ons’ like UV and scratch protection really worth it?
3. Is ‘Buy one, Get one FREE’ possible?
4. How do I know I’m getting the right frame for my prescription?
5. Why is there such a difference in price between optical stores?
6. Is there a difference in eyeglass lenses?
7. How do I know if I’m paying too much for my frame?
In this brief report we’ll try and answer a few of these questions.
IS THERE A TRICK BEHIND THE 50% OFF SALE?
Let’s use a common sense approach when evaluating this offer. It’s not very likely a business would offer a product for less than their purchase price of the product. So when optical companies run 50% off sales one of two things is happening. They want to get rid of outdated merchandise or the product mark up is inflated to begin with. How else could they afford to discount the product 50% and still make any profit?
Most 50% OFF sales advertise discontinued frames. While this can save you money, be careful of being enticed to buy a product that is outdated. Replacing a broken temple piece or a broken discontinued frame can be difficult if not impossible.
Fifty percent off sales are also frequently on frames that have been marked up by 3 to 31/2 times their cost, and then reduced by 50 percent. So you end up paying almost regular retail on a frame that is advertised at 50% off.
Often on 50% off sales you will notice an offer that discounts the frame only if you purchase the ‘premium’ lenses.
THIS IS THE CATCH!! You WILL overpay for these lenses. They are often priced higher than regular lenses. So you think you’re getting a good deal because the frame is half-priced. Shop around for lens prices in your area. You’ll be better prepared when investigating the 50% off sale.
Be sure to read the fine print in the advertisements.
Stores that run 50% OFF sales 365 days a year are simply marking up product to reduce it. This is very misleading. You might even notice that some optical stores have 50% OFF as a permanent business practice.
There are less expensive and easier ways to save money and get real quality frames and lenses at a very affordable price.
WHY DO OPTICALS ALWAYS TRY TO SELL YOU ADD-ONS?
This is an area of great profit for most optical companies, and is ‘easy money’.
Many opticals give generous commissions and sales incentives to sales staff based solely on the number of tints, scratch coatings, ultra-violet protection, edge polishing and service agreements sold.
For little cost to them, the optical business can substantially increase the price of an eyeglass sale using ‘add-ons.’
Add-ons can amount to over 30% of the cost of a pair of glasses, often giving the company excessive and outrageous profits.
Buy only the protective coatings that you need. Specialty lenses, like hi-index lenses and polycarbonate material automatically come with scratch protection and ultraviolet coatings from the manufacturer.
So you DON’T NEED TO PAY AN ADD-ON FEE to have these coatings added! They are already on the lenses!
Again, do not overpay. If your prescription requires hi-index or polycarbonate lenses, the lenses have ultraviolet and scratch protection coatings already impregnated in the lens.
Oftentimes, if pressed to make the sale, some optical companies will provide scratch protection, UV coating and edge polishing for half the price! Negotiate and insist on a discount.
THE TRUTH BEHIND ‘BUY ONE GET ONE FREE’?
In this promotion, while the second pair is advertised as FREE, the ‘free frame’ is not an identical one to the first frame of the purchase. The ‘free frame’ is usually one selected from a special collection in the store. These cheap frames cost the optical store about $2 to $4 each.
You are overcharged ‘full’ price for the first pair and told you get a second pair free.
The lenses used to fill the prescription in the free pair are often cheap, uncoated lenses. Is the optical giving away a free pair?
The store makes money from this promotion by encouraging the consumer to purchase an ‘add-on’ package of coatings. These coatings are scratch protection, ultraviolet coating and a tint. A total for all three options may cost you from $29 to $59.
So the optical will make anywhere from $23 to $53 on your FREE pair!
In reality, you are overpaying for your first pair and getting a poor quality frame for the second pair.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND AVOID CHEAP FRAMES?
The optical industry considers a ‘cheap’ frame to be one that costs the optical store anywhere from $1 to $7. Yes, believe it or not, there are imported eyeglass frames that cost as little as $1 which some optical stores sell for $39 to $99!
In many optical stores these frames are often found:
– in the ‘Spare Pair’ section
– with ‘Buy One Get One FREE’ promotions
– combined with a Contact Lens promotion
– with certain Vision Insurance Plans
– often advertised, ‘$79 Complete Pair of Glasses’.
The frames are usually made in the Far East of low grade material. They will often tarnish easily. Cheap frames won’t stay in adjustment, the arm coatings will often chip, the screws will loosen and the frame will break easily.
Be very careful about spending your money on these frames.
Name brand or designer frames do not fall into this category. You can almost be assured that any well known designer name frame is made of superior quality material, will hold alignment longer and won’t tarnish easily.
GUIDELINES FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZE FRAME FOR YOUR PRESCRIPTION
There are usually two components to any eyewear prescription.
You are either nearsighted, which means you can see at near but not at a distance, or farsighted, which means the opposite.
About 70% of eyeglass wearers also have some form of astigmatism. This simply means that the front part of the eye, the cornea, has 2 different curvatures (like a football). So lenses are designed with two different curves to compensate for the shape of the eye to correct the astigmatism.
Here’s an example of an eyeglass prescription:
OD -3.00/-1.50 X 180
OS 2.50/-1.00 X 165
This is what it means.
OD is a latin abbreviation for the right eye.
OS is a latin abbreviation for the left eye.
The first number (-3.00 in the example) is called the sphere. This tells the optician what power to make the lens to correct the nearsightedness (-) or farsightedness ( ). In our example the right eye (OD) is nearsighted and the left eye (OS) is farsighted.
The numbers after the (/) refer to the amount of astigmatism. The (X) is an abbreviation for the word ‘axis’ and the numbers 180 and 165 indicate the placement in degrees of the astigmatic lens.
THE NUMBERS THAT CONCERN YOU WHEN DECIDING THE BEST SIZE FRAME FOR YOUR PRESCRIPTION ARE THE SPHERE NUMBERS (-3.00 and 2.50 in our example).
If your prescription is less than -2.50 or 2.50 almost any size and shape frame will be suitable for your prescription. You do not require hi-index or thin and light prescription lenses. Any frame with regular plastic lenses will have an acceptable edge thickness and should look cosmetically pleasing to you.
For prescriptions of -2.50 to -4.00 you should choose a frame with an eye size of 54 or less. The size is written on the inside arm of the frame. If you have to have a frame with a larger size because of style or face shape, then make sure you get hi-index or the thin and light lens. Otherwise, your lenses will have thick edges.
Do not choose a rimless frame if your prescription is over -2.50 unless you use a high index lens, or edge thickness of the lens will be a problem.
For prescriptions of -4.00 to -6.00 it is advisable to order your lenses in a hi-index material and to keep the frame size as small as possible. This will ensure that your glasses look the thinnest.
If you are unsure about which lenses are best suited for your prescription, or if you have a very difficult or high prescription call 1-800-248-9427 and ask for Lens Information and Assistance.
Trained personnel will help you understand your prescription and which lenses you should use. The service is FREE.
UNDERSTANDING SINGLE VISION LENS MATERIALS
There are many single vision lens materials, but the most commonly used polymer is a plastic material known as CR-39. Because of its light weight, it is very comfortable and can be tinted almost any color and density.
However, certain manufacturers of CR-39 lenses produce a low quality and inferior product. Often, the lenses will be warped, causing ‘soft spots’ of poor vision throughout the lenses.
Manufacturers that create exceptionally high optical quality lenses, all of which can be ordered with a very effective scratch protection coating, are SEIKO, SILOR and SOLA.
Thin-plastic (hi-index) and light lenses are also available. The refractive index of this material is higher than regular plastic lenses. This means that a thinner lens can do the same job that a thicker lens would normally do. These lenses are about 35% thinner and lighter than regular plastic lenses.
Be aware, however, there are different grades and qualities of these lenses. The higher the refractive index, the thinner the lens.
The best quality hi-index lenses have a refractive index of 1.60 or 1.66. Some opticals still use lenses with a 1.54 refractive index, but charge the price of a 1.60 lens, because John Q. Public doesn’t know the difference. If your prescription requires hi-index lenses, insist on 1.60 or 1.66 refractive hi-index lenses for best quality and thinnest lenses.
We recommend the following hi-index lenses:
– Silor Thin & Lite 1.60 refractive index
– Pentax THC 1.60 refractive index
– Pentax 1.66 Ultrathin with anti-reflective
– Seiko Super 16 MX
– Seiko Super 16 diacoat
– Optima Aspheric 1.66
– Optima Aspheric 1.60
– Optima Hyper 1.60
– Any Sola product
Another material, called Polycarbonate, is often marketed as a thin and light lens. It is softer than CR-39, may scratch and can’t be tinted as dark as plastic lenses. It definitely is lighter and thinner than regular plastic. Many opticals promote this material over hi-index because it costs less, yet they often charge the same price as hi-index lenses.
Polycarbonate is extremely resistant to shattering, so it is recommended for children or persons needing safety eye protection. However, the newerhi-index lenses sometimes have superior optics compared to polycarbonate which occassionally has some peripheral distortion. If you are being sold a thinner and lighter lens, ask if it is polycarbonate or hi-index plastic.
REMINDER: POLYCARBONATE AND HI-INDEX PLASTIC LENSES AUTOMATICALLY COME WITH SCRATCH PROTECTION AND ULTRAVIOLET PROTECTION. IF YOU PURCHASE EITHER ONE OF THESE TWO MATERIALS DO NOT BE SOLD THESE COATINGS AS ‘ADD-ONS.’