If you’re like me, you’re probably getting tired of the consumer media telling eyeglass wearers they are being overcharged for their eyewear. From respected publications such as Consumer Reports to award-winning television programs like “60 Minutes,” consumers are hearing a rising chorus of mainstream media voices advising them to cut their eyewear costs by buying online or from discount stores.

Although price is always an important factor in any buying decision, it’s just one element, something this one-dimensional reporting overlooks. The other element is quality. It is the balance of these two elements that creates value for the consumer.

The latest one to jump on the “eyewear is overpriced” bandwagon is ABC News. In a special report by ABC’s “Real Money” team, reporter Paula Faris offers this pearl of wisdom: “Shop around with your prescription. Don’t get stuck buying glasses at the optometrist’s office.”

I guess it never occurred to Faris that some optometrists might offer good deals on glasses, not to mention a comprehensive eye exam and advice about which lenses might best suit a patient’s visual needs. The OD might even have a well-stocked dispensary run by an expert optician where the patient can conveniently be fitted with those lenses. What a concept!

Shortly after the ABC News report aired, VSP Optics blogged, “There have been a lot of stories counseling Americans not to buy eyeglasses from their local eye doctor. This is not only bad from a personal health perspective but also from a personal finance perspective.” VSP went on to list various reasons why consumers should buy their glasses from independent eye doctors. In addition, VSP Vision Care president Jim McGrann stated in a video posted on the company’s website, “You really want to stay involved with your eyecare professional to make sure you’re getting the medical side of this experience, and couple it with the cool fashion side.”

Nicely put, Mr. McGrann.

—Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology