It is natural for any savvy shopper to begin their search for eyeglasses frames by looking for discount eyeglasses, but eyewear is one of the few categories of consumer goods in which discounting often leads to severe and unpleasant consequences. A person’s quest for discount eyeglasses inevitably leads to prescription eyeglass frames and lenses that can cost as little as $7 on the internet, but before leaping at what looks on the surface to be a great “bargain”, a person must consider the inevitable problems in quality that exist in cheap eyeglasses. Some people will argue that for six months of use, at $7.00 a pair of eyeglasses is a bargain, and for some people, that could make sense. But for most of us, eyeglasses that wear down, break, look bad, are hard to see through, and irritate the skin are not worth the hassle and time lost in managing the problem, and spending more money on a quality pair of eyeglasses is a better decision – even from a financial point of view. Most of our customers at Eyeglasses.com have had bad experience at other eyewear stores, and finally come to us to get a great quality product at a very reasonable price point.
The wholesale price for cheap eyeglass frames purchased in lots of 1,000 from Chinese factories is approximately $1.00 per dozen frames, or $0.08 per eyeglass frame. The frames are made from the most inexpensive plastics, similar to the plastic material that is used by Chinese restaurants in the take-out food containers. Hinges connecting the temple arms to the front are simply glued on, and under very little stress will tear off, making the glasses totally useless. Because the plastic is derived from petrochemicals and in addition not coated properly, facial oils will likely cause discoloration, and potentially become a skin irritant. All of this occurs within the first six months of use. When an eyeglass frame breaks, you lose the value of the frame AND the value of the lenses, because it is very difficult or impossible to reuse the lenses in another frame. So if the frame you purchase breaks, they entire set becomes worthless and you have to start over again.
The fashioning and installation of prescription lenses is a custom process, because there are approximately 5 billion different combinations of prescriptions lenses. Lenses begin as a hockey-puck piece of plastic, which is then carved and polished by computer operated machines to achieve your prescription. The lens is then shaped to the dimensions of your frame and installed. All of these steps could be made perfectly, and yet you still cannot see through them. Why? Because human beings still need to check the overall lens product for every job to be sure that it was done according to the prescription, and that the optical centers of the lenses will be exactly in front of your pupils. In the manufacture of low cost lenses, however, there is very little human intervention, so the quality control is very weak. Add to that the very low quality (high opacity and distortion) of the plastics used in the lenses, and you end up with a lens product that at best is poor, and at worst is unusable.
The final piece to the discount eyeglasses story is the retailer that you are doing business with. What is the return policy (usually none, or 20% restock fee on the frames and non-returnable policy on the lenses)? Is their a warrantee and how hard is it to process a warrantee? Do they answer the phone when you need to ask questions about how to purchase discount eyeglasses on the internet. Cheap eyeglass lenses are made primarily in factories Korea and China, and shipped in weekly deliveries to the U.S. If there is a problem or mistake made in the manufacture of your frames, there will be a significant time lapse before a replacement finds its way to your doorstep. Nowadays, some eyewear companies are advertising a “Buy One, Give One” campaign, in which they are giving away a very small donation as a percentage of what you are paying for the glasses at retail. This is a distraction to make you forget about the fact that you are receiving a low quality product, and that the donation you are making is really $0.083. And thus the entire experience can be summed up this way: “It sounds better than it really is.”