Your Glasses: Cost vs Value

I’ve always considered the cost of glasses quite complicated, and I’ve been in and around the industry my whole life. How can one pair cost £10 and another £1000+!? I’m going to run through the factors that make all the difference, to try and give an unbiased description of what impacts the cost of glasses.


Most optician bought lenses have similarity in the materials they are made from, but not all lenses are created equal!

How to push price up?

Additional coatings – Premium coatings can actually improve your vision by reducing distracting reflections.  The range of coatings available also means they can be tailored to your individual needs.  Whether you are tired of your glasses steaming up, fed up of being dazzled by bright headlights coming towards you in the car, anxious about UV protection or getting eyestrain from your computer, there's a spectacle shaped solution just waiting for you!

Additional tints – Tints can be prescribed for therapeutic reasons or for sun protection.  There's polarised lenses which filter out more reflections from the sun and mirror lenses which give you that celebrity-like look and feel. Transitions change colour automatically in response to UV and there's even a version that will work in the car now too! There are so many different stylish colours and options to choose from at an array of prices.

Aesthetics – If your prescription and frame choice warrants it, you may benefit from thinner, lighter and stronger lenses. If you wear your glasses a lot and you want them to look and feel as good as possible, any extra cost may justify the cause for you.

Lens type, technologies and customisation – Your lens cost can be significantly impacted by what your lens can do. The more it can do, the more it is going to cost. This mainly applies to varifocals but is also becoming more relevant in a series of other lens types. The more data that goes into the build of your glasses and the less “generic” that lens becomes, the more it will cost. More technology, used well, will mean better quality lenses and vision. The aim of these technologies is to make your field of vision wider and your experience with your glasses more comfortable.

How to push price down?

Strip off all the bells and whistles and be prepared to compromise – take the basic material in your prescription for the minimum of tasks you wish to achieve and put it in a suitable frame. This will keep the lens cost at the lowest for you.


Frames for your eyewear can be made of almost anything if the designers are brave enough. They will mainly be a range of metals and “plastics” but do have an incredibly wide range of materials, designs, and manufacture methods to work with. Read below to see why these make a difference!

How to push price up?

Materials – Premium materials for glasses are durable, light, flexible and hypo allergenic. Durability refers to how long the frames are likely to last and what they look like after wearing them for some time. If your materials are too flexible, then they move over time and don’t fit well and if they’re too rigid then they can be brittle and uncomfortable. These types of materials can take time to prepare even before they are made into glasses. A great example is Mazzuchelli acetate that is used in high end “plastic” frames. You can see a video of how it’s made here!

Design – Independent eyewear companies often have an individual designer. They will work by themselves or in very small teams. They create more varied designs often in more interesting combinations of colour. Their designs are created in smaller batches and are often updated regularly.

Manufacture – Bespoke, made to order, handmade and hand-painted are all descriptions of manufacture that take more time and care. This kind of eyewear often has a higher attention to detail associated with it and has multiple individual processes. This kind of manufacture is not done on a conveyor belt.

How to push price down?

Materials – As mentioned before, the ideal materials for eyewear aim to make it durable, light, flexible and hypo allergenic. When reduced cost is factored in, these things can’t all be at a high level. Cheaper alloys of metals and plastics can be used to get close to the outcome required, but at least one of your desirable qualities is going to be worse. For example, certain metal alloys contain zinc, which those with sensitive skin or allergies may find uncomfortable.

Design – Lower price eyewear needs to sell in larger volumes for the manufacturers to make money. This often leads to very safe design choices. It needs to appeal to the majority of spectacle wearers so that it can reach the “mass market”. This means you’ll always have plenty of choice, but it won’t be particularly diverse. It’s also more difficult to get certain design finishes from cheaper materials.

Manufacture – In lower price eyewear, the manufacturing will have fewer detailing processes so that it can be carried out more quickly for less cost. High volume manufacture cannot be done with hand made processes and so will be carried out using conveyor belt processes. Conveyor belt processes have improved over the years, but the attention to detail of the product ultimately suffers.

Service level

It’s worth mentioning service level, as we’ve all had good and bad service both in person and online. This isn’t saying that there is a correct level, but it impacts the price of anything, including glasses. I realise this part is obvious, but I’m leaving no stone unturned.

How to push price up?

Location - If you walk into a bricks and mortar Opticians, you have already hit the first thing impacting price. If the company that you want to buy glasses from needs a building to put its people products and services in, it will impact the price of what you buy.

Expertise - If you are interacting with members of staff within that building, then you will be paying more for your glasses. The more attention you get and the higher the expertise, the more it is likely to impact the final price.

How to push price down?

Location - The opposite would be to order glasses where there is no building. This will mainly be the internet. If the product and people don’t need premises, then this will ultimately make glasses cheaper.

Expertise - If you are choosing glasses on your own and interactions with humans are shorter or not required, then this will again, impact the final price of your glasses. It’s worth noting that as soon as you aren’t dealing with Opticians, online or in person, they aren’t governed by the same quality standards.

Useful resources

The Problems With Varifocals

Varifocals have a number of common problems. They can be an expensive investment, so how can you make them as good as possible?

What is your Style Personality?

Here’s a quick run down of the six main style personality types

What are floaters?

Floaters in the eyes are a common thing and many people notice them from childhood, but what should you do if they change?

Bainbridge Grey Glasses