The cost of prescription glasses depends on multiple factors, including your vendor, frames, lenses, and add-ons. Your location and insurance coverage matters too. Prices can range from less than a hundred to a thousand or more.
Getting New Prescription Glasses
According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than half the U.S. population will have myopia or hyperopia by 2050. This means many people will require corrective vision measures, such as eyeglasses.
Americans already have more options for purchasing glasses than ever before, especially with a growing market of online retailers. As always, price points vary by retailer. Costs also shift based on your vision insurance coverage, if applicable.
Here’s what you can expect when buying prescription glasses or sunglasses:
Average Cost of Prescription Glasses
The cost of prescription glasses varies widely. People without insurance can pay between $50 and $1,000 for glasses. People with insurance pay an average of $196, but brand-name frames can cost $1,000 or more.
Insurance can significantly reduce your final cost, but coverage varies. Your plan might have policies regarding the following elements:
- Frames: Many insurance policies cover a percentage of the frame cost or provide a dollar amount for frame coverage.
- Lenses: Copays range from $0 to $50 per lens with insurance, and some cap the cost and ask you to pay the rest.
- Customization: Some policies offer perks like anti-glare coatings or scratch resistance, but others do not.
Retailers should make your final cost clear before you place your order. Read your estimates carefully, so you don’t get more than you budgeted for.
Process of Getting Prescription Glasses
Getting prescription glasses requires completing several steps. Here’s what to expect:
Eye Doctor Appointment
You cannot get prescription eyewear without a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. An eye exam costs an average of $114 nationwide. That price varies based on insurance coverage. Many insurance plans cover an annual eye exam.
You’ll complete your eye exam and leave your doctor’s office with an updated prescription. Odds are that the eye doctor also sells glasses, and the office staff will encourage you to look around and pick out frames that are lining the walls around the office.
Unless you need new glasses to drive or function immediately, you do not have to pick out glasses right after your eye exam. By comparison shopping, you can likely find a good deal on a pair of prescription glasses that you like.
Where to Buy Prescription Glasses
Several companies are ready and willing to provide you with the glasses you need to see clearly. They all come with benefits and drawbacks.
Your options include the following:
- An eye doctor’s office: Traditionally, the only place to find prescription glasses was your optometrist or ophthalmologist’s office. Today, you can still get a pair of corrective eyeglasses from your optician.
- Retail vision stores: These modern one-stop shops can cater to most eyewear needs. Find a wide selection of frames and glasses with speedy and convenient service.
- Vision centers: Stores like Target and Walmart now have optical centers that offer a relatively wide selection and reasonable prices. You can now get your glasses on your next shopping trip.
- Online: Online platforms have taken over the eyewear industry. You can order any color, style, material, shape, and size of prescription eyeglasses from the comfort of your home. Your purchase is shipped directly to you.
Comparing Cheap vs. Expensive Glasses
Eyeglasses can be expensive, especially for people on a budget. It’s reasonable to shop around for the best deal.
Less expensive glasses options are typically available through online vendors. You submit a prescription, choose frames, complete your purchase, and wait for your glasses to arrive. The frames you choose may not be quite right for your prescription, and you may end up paying someone to adjust the arms and nose pieces to make them work.
But very expensive designer frames aren’t guaranteed to last as long as you might like them to. You could end up spending a lot on glasses you break the next day or lose while on vacation. Unless you have money to burn, it doesn’t always make sense to spend more than you need to.
Many consumers find a happy middle ground when it comes to price. You don’t want glasses that are so cheap, they are poor quality, but you also don’t want to go into debt for nice frames.
Factors That Affect the Cost
Once you get your new prescription and start to shop around, you will discover the various pricing structures retailers have and which ones best apply to your insurance coverage. The following factors apply:
If you have vision insurance coverage, the overall cost of glasses should be reduced. Copays will apply, as will coverage percentages or fixed dollar amounts. You may have to pay the difference between your coverage limit and the final cost of your glasses.
The frame’s style, material, brand, and size determine its price point. Plain metal frames can cost as little as $8 from an online retailer, while a name-brand option could cost $500 or more.
The lens is a significant cost determinant. The simpler the lens type needed, the more affordable the glasses will likely be.
Single-vision lenses are the least expensive, followed by bifocals and trifocals. Progressive lenses cost more. If you have a vision condition that requires a more complex lens, costs will be higher.
Add-ons like anti-scratch coatings drive up the cost of glasses. The more add-ons you pick, the higher your final cost.
Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 Through 2050. (May 2016). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How Much Do Eyeglasses Cost? CostHelper.
Last Updated October 5, 2023
Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.