Why Do High Index Lenses Cost So Much?

If you’re shopping online for high index prescription glasses or lenses, chances are you either don’t have eye insurance, your eye insurance won’t cover the new pair of glasses you need, or you need a special kind of glasses that you can’t find at the eye doctor’s office.

Either way, you’re probably looking to spend a fair amount less online than you would at the local optometrist’s, but what if you need high index lenses? By all appearances, many online stores appear to have insanely low prices for their glasses… until you start getting into the special lens options, that is. Suddenly, shopping for glasses is threatening to break the bank again.

Let’s answer the question before we talk about how to circumvent it.

Why Are High Index Lenses Expensive?

  • High index lenses are essentially the diamond ring of lens materials. They offer the sharpest optical quality, the thinnest (and best-looking) profile, and, usually, the lightest weight.
  • The material the lenses are made of is a synthetic plastic that (in general) took a fair amount of research and chemistry to create.
  • High index plastic always costs more than traditional plastics or polycarbonate to manufacture.
  • High index lenses have more overhead cost in the optical lab because they are completely unforgiving when you’re generating a prescription into them. So, where a normal plastic lens may allow a +/- 0.1mm difference in thickness, a high index lens will only allow a +/-0.01mm difference. The required precision is on a different order of magnitude, so it’s common for a few lenses to be destroyed before the lab makes a pair that can pass inspection and be sent to a customer. This increases the overhead cost.

Now that we know why the lenses are so expensive, let’s talk about how to get the best price. There are a few things to consider with regards to cost when you’re shopping for high index lenses.

There are sites out there that offer extremely affordable prices for high index lenses. While no sites that we’ve ever seen offer high index plastic for the same price as regular plastic, it’s certainly possible to get a pair of high index glasses for as low as under $100.

Obviously, if you’re getting transitions lenses, a Dolce and Gabbana frame, and the best super hydrophobic anti-reflective coating, expect to pay for it. But if you’re actually looking for a deal, they are out there. You just need to look.

High index lens material is a trade-off between affordability and quality. High index lenses are the best, especially when it comes to strong prescriptions, so it makes sense that they’d cost more. As a buyer who is researching high index lenses online, though, you’re on the right track to getting them at a very affordable price. Take a look at some of our other topics to learn more about the lenses themselves, and happy shopping!

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