Cheap Eyeglasses
Published on March 15, 2012 by Sara Foss

If you're like me, and have less than optimal vision, you're probably irritated by 1. the crappy vision coverage provided (or not) by your HMO and 2. the cost of eyeglasses and contact lenses.

For reasons I don't fully understand, our health care system treats eyes as a luxury, as if people only wear glasses and contacts solely for reasons of fashion, rather than to see.

In any case, I always appreciate an article about efforts to make eye care cheaper, and GOOD magazine has a piece on two organizations that are bringing affordable glasses to people who can't afford huge markups. It pairs well with this 2010 Alternet piece by Anneli Rufus about cheap eyewear alternatives.

Rufus writes:

"Perhaps because prescription glasses are where medicine meets fashion, they're among the world's most overpriced merchandise. Imperfect eyesight isn't your fault: You can't make yourself nearsighted by eating too much fudge. Yet if your health plan excludes vision care, you've spent years at the mercy of a $64 billion industry characterized by 500-percent markups.

This has begun to change over the last few years. A knowledge-is-power, power-to-the-people, Web-driven DIY wave is rocking the optical industry's very foundations. Dozens of companies now sell prescription glasses online, frames and lenses included, for as little as $7.95."

After reading Rufus' article, I vowed never to pay several hundred hundred dollars for glasses again. The pair I own actually cost about $250, and I've had it for about five years, but I see no reason to pay that much money for something that should be much, much cheaper. I don't see why anybody else should, either.

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