Eyewear Sticker Shock

I’m lucky enough to have avoided most health problems in my life, with one exception: my eyesight is terrible.  When I was twelve, my dad (who also has bad eyesight) tried on my glasses and was amazed that the prescription was so close to his own.  Luckily, my prescription has tapered off by now, but I still need glasses and/or contacts to function like a normal human.

I went to the eye doctor last week to update my prescription and order new contacts and glasses. I have one pair of contacts left, so I need to reorder. I haven’t had new glasses in years, but the anti-glare coating on my current pair has started flaking off, so they need to be replaced.

Right now I’m going through a little bit of sticker shock!

For contacts, the doctor is saying I should go for daily lenses.  They gave me some free daily lenses to try out, and let me tell you, those things are luxurious.  No need to worry about remembering to pack a contact case or solution, no need to track how long it has been since I last swapped to a fresh pair.

However, do you know how much those things cost?? It’s $650 per year.  Normal 2-week lenses are only $250 for a year.  I am also worried about how much waste goes into the daily lenses.  That’s 730 little plastic blister packs with foil seals.  That’s a lot!  And it seems like such a stupid thing to worry about (especially since I contribute my fair share of waste to landfills), but seeing the pile from just a week of these babies made me feel like a bad global citizen.

I was considering getting a 6-month supply of daily lenses and then just wearing them half-time with glasses, which would at least decrease the cost/guilt slightly.

Unfortunately, it looks like glasses are going to be expensive too!  My insurance will only cover a specific amount for either glasses or contacts, so either way I’ll have to cover a chunk of cash.  Here is the glasses breakdown:

Frames: $250 (The cheapest pair they had were about $200, my favorites were, of course, around the $400 mark)
Lenses: $100 for thicker lenses OR $200 for thinner lenses, + $100 for anti-glare coatings

I could keep my old frames, but in all honesty, they have not fit properly since I bought them.  They look good on my face, but they slide down my nose.  Plus the plastic is discolored in places (and oh my gosh I walk around like that all the time, what is wrong with me).  The lenses would definitely need to be replaced, which I might end up also doing to have a backup pair.

I’ve also been looking at some of the online retailers that promise glasses for $100, but I’m a little wary of them.  Maybe as a backup, but that still means spending the $400 – $600 on the primary pair.

The debate in my mind seems a little silly since obviously I need to see, but at the same time, it makes sense to optimize my spending, especially when we’re talking about over $1000.

Do you wear glasses/contacts?  What kind do you use, and how much do you pay?

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6 Responses

  1. Don’t do it. Don’t buy the glasses online. I had a pair and they lasted, but they were pinching my nose for the 4 years I put up with them. I also don’t wear them 100% of the time, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

    I bought my most recent pair of glasses in the US and it cost me $800. The frames, super thin lenses, coating and everything. That’s just for a BASIC pair that I’d pay maybe $400 for (without a vision plan) in Canada. With a company vision plan, I would have paid $300.

    In Canada, it’s no better money-wise if you don’t have a company vision plan. (IF you had one, they pay 100% and are quite generous.)

    Without a plan, you will end up paying 100% of the cost, and the super nice frames start at $400 – $500, but they are the best of the best, which would probably cost $1000 in the US alone.

    Then you add the nice NIkon lenses and so on, you’re looking at $800 in total, but at least the frame is handmade and the lenses are the top of the line rather than being standard lenses like in the US.

    For contacts, I buy them online. I wear them for a month (Acuvue) and change them monthly. I used to wear them for 3 months without a problem until I got yelled at (I didn’t know!!!).

  2. Warby Parker lets you try on a bunch of frames at home (for free) so you can choose a pair you like / that fits well. I just tried that, and have yet to actually buy the glasses but it was fun to do, and easy too.
    It sounds like you’re mainly using your glasses as back up, like i do, so it would at least be worth trying to keep costs low, in my opinion. I use all of my vision insurance allotted cash on contacts, and wear monthly contacts (often for longer than a month, since i almost never remember to note my change-out date on a calendar, instead I tend to go by major holiday: change on my birthday, change on halloween, change at thanksgiving. so far I don’t think its hurt me.) my glasses are mainly for sick days and early morning / late night, so they don’t get a ton of wear, which is why i am still limping along with my last ones, which I wore to paint our kitchen ceiling, so they’re pretty unsightly.

  3. I’ve heard great things about Zenni Optical online. Everyone I know who has tried it has been satisfied and, for the price, you should definitely consider it!

  4. I have terrible eyes too, which cost me about what yours cost in glasses, not to mention a really wide head, and that’s why I’d never buy those cheapies online (not to mention they end up costing way more than $100 when you need to factor in the extra thin lenses etc).

    My current pair I found in store then bought the same kind online for way cheaper. Uh…that was 3 or 4 years ago now? I’ve had ‘get eye test’ on my to do list ALL YEAR. No joke. I’m just terrified of what it’s going to cost to just upgrade my lenses to a new prescription.

    I’ve never tried dailies – SO expensive! I used to wear monthlies (I would wear them everyday, then that changed over time to be more like 70 percent of the time, and eventually that dwindled to nothing as I decided to save the money and stick with specs) but haven’t worn contacts in about a year now.

  5. Wow, that is pricey, but vision is important. I wear monthly contacts and glasses only as back-up and in the evenings, as I hate to wear them. My vision is poor (very poor) without correction, so I wear contacts or glasses all of the time.

    I buy glasses as infrequently as possible and have found I can save big on contacts by ordering online. Have you checked online for contacts? I discovered this year that 1-800-contacts price matches other sites, some of which tend to be MUCH cheaper than ordering through the optometrist. 1-800-contacts has great customer service, and the process was easy. I asked for a copy of my contact prescription from the optometrist. Recently, we paid about $300 total for exams, fittings and a year’s supply of monthlies for both myself and my husband, and should get about $100 back yet from insurance.

  6. I bought glasses about 6 years ago and had to get the lenses changed a couple times because they couldn’t dx what I really needed correctly. It turned out that my vision actually didn’t need true correction, I was just so stressed that it was affecting my vision badly. ><

    I paid QUITE a lot back then and still have the glasses which I use on occasion for reading when the stress rachets up.

    PiC, however, has some pretty bad vision and has to wear contacts or glasses just to recognize me a foot and a half away. He pays $250-300 after after insurance for his lenses alone because he gets specialized lenses, and then he needs special frames too. I think the frames are partially covered too, but not totally. He also gets contacts every other year which are partially covered. And he's got some pretty comprehensive coverage.

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