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Eyeglasses are expensive, so shop carefully

September, 2009

Shopping for eyeglasses is a trying experience – they can be so pricey – so there are certain things to keep in mind when your shop for them.

There are tons of brands, so it is pretty hard to comparison shop, since in most instances you are comparing apples and oranges. The style you choose is important, because glasses change your face, define your personality and become part of your wardrobe. Take a camera shopping with you and snap pictures of yourself wearing each pair you like, then go home and look at them.

If you need progressive lenses, while the cost may seem outrageous, there are reasons why they are so expensive. With progressives, you can’t just pluck a pre-ground prescription lens off a shelf and slip it into a frame. Almost every lens is made to order, because there are so many possible combinations of near vision, far vision and reading glasses. Also, it can be difficult to get your combination right the first time. If you are dealing with a good shop, you will be able to return within a certain number of days (30, 60 or 90) and they will fix the combination for you – at no extra charge. This service is built into that expensive price.

Here are some words of wisdom for when you shop for glasses:

• If the glasses don’t seem right (blurry, dizzying, the ground seems off ), don’t let your eyes adjust to the problem – get the glasses corrected.

• Carry a spare pair of glasses when you are travelling. (Keep your last pair to use those in an emergency.)

• Most optical stores in North America offer free minor adjustments if you have a problem on the road (a lens pops out, you lose a screw).

• Glasses that have no screws between the glass and the frame will never loosen and fall apart. You’ll never need that little screwdriver again.

• Titanium frames are much less breakable. If you are klutzy, you might want to consider them, but they are pricey.

To find decent prices, you have to go to stores that buy in large volume.

While the following chains offer lower prices, they may not always have the trendiest frames:

1) Costco stores have optical departments. 2) Some Walmart stores (Lasalle, Kirkland, Carrefour Laval) include Greiche and Scaff outlets. Frames run $24.99 to $100.

3) Laurier Optical is a home-grown chain that sells progressives for $99 to $299.

4) Lenscrafters is a huge North American chain that offers more middle-of-the-road, less trendy options.

Sandra Phillips is the author of Smart Shopping Montreal. You can find money-saving ideas on her shlog at



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