The Optical Industry - Why Do Glasses Cost So Much?

For fifteen years I sold eyeglass frames to retail optical shops, labs, and chain stores.  At our peak, my company sold over 20,000 frames per month and over 300 styles in our catalog.  So, it would be fair to say - we know the eyeglass industry very well. 

The optical industry is going through many changes thanks to Luxottica, other huge players in the business, Warby Parker, and venture capital firms  entering the space to consolidate retail.  Eventually the independent optical shop may go the way of your local drug store.  So, I sold my interest in the optical frame company, and now focus instead on the emerging multifocal reading glasses market. 

The monster of the reading glasses market is Foster Grant (FGX).  FGX reading glasses are sold in mass market retailers like Walgreen, CVS, etc.  FGX is an old line company recently bought by EssilorLuxottica.  Want to learn more?  See this 60-Minutes report.  For fun - I am old enough to remember these TV ads.

SightLine can do things FGX cannot.  If EssilorLuxottica did what SightLine does, in terms of quality, it would conflict with their goal of selling hugely marked up ophthalmic frames and lenses.  They must dumb down the quality of the reading glasses frames, or risk alienating the professionals who overpay for all the name "designer" brand eyeglass frames they bring to market.   

SightLine's Mission:  Provide the best quality reading glasses at a reasonable price.  

SightLine comes at three basic price points:

  • Below $20.00 =reader quality frames like FGX
  • Between $20 and $30 = optical frames.  Plastic models can be heated (that matters to an Optician) and adjusted.  Metal models have stainless steel eye-wires, and adjustable nose pads and temples.  All are suitable for prescriptions lenses.  These same frames I used to wholesale into many large optical programs around the USA –the frame is retails for $49 to $99 in optical shops. 
  • Over $30 = premium quality optical frames.  Same properties as above category, but with higher quality materials, metal plating processes, hinges, etc….  These are the same frames we would wholesale to optical shops in North America, and retailed for $79.00 to $179. Our closest competitor for these models would probably be Eyebobs (admittedly we style our frames more conservatively than theirs) but the quality is as good or better than their $149 models.   

Our customers see the value, and feel the comfort, of doing business with SightLine Multifocal Readers.  We have MANY repeat customers, and our return rate (returns are free), is in the single digits. Try SightLine and you clearly see why we are the best value i the multifocus reading glass market.  






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