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How much glasses cost can vary significantly based on several factors, such as the frames, lens add-ons, the retailer, and insurance coverage.

This article discusses the cost of different glasses, why they are different prices, where to buy them, and more.

Glasses come in both prescription and non-prescription strength, and the prices for these glasses can vary. Although prescription lenses may cost more, health insurance may cover the cost.

A prescription for eyeglasses will feature a range of diopters (D), values that describe a person’s vision. Eye doctors typically refer to 0.00 diopters as “Plano.” Negative and positive numbers represent the need for vision correction in each eye.

Learn how to understand an eye prescription here.

People with weaker prescriptions may not need prescription lenses and may find over-the-counter reading glasses suitable. However, they may not suit everyone, including:

  • people with astigmatism
  • people who need a different strength lens in each eye

People aged 40–60 years will usually be able to use their reading glasses for several years before they need to update them.

People should have regular eye exams, regardless of whether they need vision correction.

Learn more about glasses prescriptions here.

The price of eyeglasses can vary based on several factors, including:

  • the retailer
  • type and style of frame, for example, store-name or brand-name
  • prescription strength
  • add-ons to lenses
  • health insurance coverage
  • protection plans

However, lens type is the most significant driver of costs. Retailers will often charge more for add-ons and customization of lenses. Lens types include single vision, bifocal, or progressive lenses. Add-ons include photochromic lenses and protective coverings.

Photochromic

Retailers may offer Transitions (photochromic) lenses as an add-on feature. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun activate this type of lens. The natural light makes the lenses go darker, allowing people to use them as sunglasses.

Research states that photochromic lenses can protect the eyes from glare and UV light. However, this same study found that darkening lenses may not be as effective in cooler temperatures. The researchers suggested that retailers mention how temperature may affect darkening lenses when advertising them.

Protective coatings

Retailers may offer protective coatings, such as anti-reflective coating, for the lenses for an additional fee. Lens coatings may help reduce the risk of lenses breaking or becoming scratched.

Mirror coating on prescription sunglasses may offer additional eye protection, as they can reflect light away from the eyes and help reduce glare on sunny days. However, mirrored coatings can make objects look darker and may reduce a person’s clarity of vision.

Materials

Not all manufacturers use the same materials to make lenses. Some retailers may offer an option to choose a different material at checkout for an extra cost.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), some common lens materials include:

  • Glass: Glass is the most scratch-resistant material but can be heavier than other options.
  • Plastic: Plastic lenses weigh less than glass lenses and can offer slightly superior optics to polycarbonate or trivex but inferior optics compared to glass lenses.
  • Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate lenses are thin, lightweight, and have good impact resistance and UV protection. They are thicker than high-index materials for high prescriptions but thinner than plastic.
  • Trivex: Trivex lenses offer excellent impact resistance and UV light protection but require thicker lenses for higher prescriptions. They are thicker than high-index materials for high prescriptions but thinner than plastic.
  • High-index materials: These materials allow higher prescription lenses to fit within standard-sized frames but can weigh more than other materials

Insurance

Retailers may handle health insurance differently. Some stores may allow a person to process their insurance upfront, whereas other people may have to pay the total cost of their glasses, and then the insurance company will reimburse them.

A person may also be able to pay for their glasses using a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending accounts (FSA). A person may wish to check their insurance coverage to make sure they can use it for their glasses.

Learn about Medicare and glasses coverage here.

Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.

GlassesUSA

GlassesUSA offers multiple options for frames, prescription strengths, and add-ons for their lenses. They also provide frame sizing guides, help with identifying prescriptions from existing glasses, and free returns.

GlassesUSA does not accept health insurance directly, but they provide forms that allow customers to submit a claim directly to several health insurance providers. A person may also be able to use their HSA for their glasses.

Learn more about GlassesUSA here.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker offers several different styles and materials for their frames and lenses.

The company works with various insurance providers and will help customers submit their claims to their insurance company if they have insurance.

A person can trial their glasses at home when they buy from Warby Parker. A person can choose from single or multifocal lenses, Transitions, polycarbonate lenses, or thin lenses.

Learn more about Warby Parker here.

EyeBuyDirect

Customers will need to pay the total amount for their glasses upfront. People with insurance can then submit the receipt and other necessary information to their health insurance company for reimbursement.

EyeBuyDirect offers both store-name and brand-name frames. People can choose from a range of lens add-ons, such as:

  • single or multifocal lenses
  • blue light blocking, sunglass tinting, or photochromic lenses
  • different lens thicknesses
  • lens coatings

Learn more about EyeBuyDirect here.

LensCrafters

LensCrafters offers online and in-store shopping. People who shop in-store can get an eye exam with a LensCrafters eye doctor before buying their glasses.

LensCrafters offers a variety of frames and lens options. A person can also claim their purchase on their health insurance if they have it at checkout.

LensCrafters offers the following lens types:

  • progressive or single vision
  • name brand or LensCrafters lenses
  • different thicknesses
  • blue light lenses or darkening coatings

Learn more about LensCrafters here.

Coastal

Coastal offers a variety of discounted and brand-name glasses.

When a person is choosing their frames, Coastal will list what features and types of lenses the chosen frames can accommodate. This can help a person decide if their chosen frame will work for them.

Coastal lenses offer added protection coatings, sunglasses, and progressive, single focus, and Transitions lenses.

A person can also choose to donate a pair of glasses to a person in need when they purchase a new pair of glasses.

Learn more about Coastal here.

According to the AAO, glasses can help to correct for:

Non-prescription glasses offer low power lenses to help with vision clarity. They can be suitable for people who only need a minor correction for reading or using devices, such as mobile phones.

A person should have regular eye exams to stay on top of their eye health. How often a person has an eye exam will depend on their individual needs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular eye exams can detect diseases and conditions that may lead to blindness, such as:

Regular eye exams can help an optometrist to diagnose eye conditions and begin appropriate treatment early. Early treatment can help prevent vision loss.

As a person’s vision may change over time, regular eye exams can also help ensure a person uses an appropriate prescription for their needs.

The cost of eyeglasses can vary due to the brand, materials used, insurance coverage, and additional lens coatings.

Not all types of glasses or lenses are suitable for everyone. A person may need a prescription for their lenses, or they may be able to wear non-prescription glasses that they can use when reading and similar activities.

People should get regular eye exams, regardless of vision correction. Eye exams can detect changes in vision and eye abnormalities.