One of the more common questions we are asked about is the difference between cheap, low-quality eyeglasses and trusted brands of higher quality. The difference is obvious when you are an informed consumer.
Eyeglass frames and lenses are made in factories across the world. The better quality frames are often made in Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria and other European countries and America. Yes, a few companies make their products right here in the U.S.A. These frames use higher quality core materials such as Monel (used in better costume jewelry), stainless steel (the higher quality kind), and other alloys designed for strength and flexibility. The outer “finish” coatings are of better quality as well, including thicker plating to resist corrosion and better clear coats like polyurethane to keep the frame looking new longer. These add up to a frame that will last longer, look better, and allow for a more enjoyable user experience, making them a much better value for the investment.
The lower quality frames are usually from China, India and other countries known for inexpensive manufacturing. Some optical shops will even remove the place of origin so the consumer will not be alerted. These frames often use “pot metal” at the core of the product. Pot metal is another way of saying: “I don’t know exactly what’s in it.” It will often have copper, nickel, tin and other metals that find their way into the mix. This product may also have trace amounts of cadmium or lead that often show up in some jewelry products coming from China. The outer coatings, from plating, color and clear coats, are usually thin and break down quickly, allowing corrosion to occur much faster.
Lenses are also made in different countries and have varying degrees of quality. Numerous factors contribute to the value of a lens: purity of the plastic, cleanliness of the facility, curing times, and of course, lens design – especially with no-line bifocals (progressive lenses). Because most optical shops never receive the original packages the lenses come in, it is difficult to ascertain the country of origin. Price is sometimes the only determining clue to the value of a lens design. But if a lens is over-priced at the retail level, the consumer is at risk of buying inferior products at premium prices.
To protect yourself when making a purchasing decision that will affect something as important as your health and vision, we recommend taking three simple steps: 1) Do your homework and research the products beforehand. 2) Compare apples to apples – most companies make numerous models of their product – and be sure to note the brand and the model when you compare prices. 3) Work with someone that you trust has your best interests in mind – usually an independent shop owner.
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Treasure Coast Opticians
715 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Open M-F 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday by Appointment