Tips

Guide to Buying Glasses in NYC Without Insurance

Erica Kahn
Erica Kahn3 May 2022

The average cost of glasses without insurance is $366 without an eye exam. The price of glasses varies since it is a medical and cosmetic product with many personalized components. Reading glasses can be as little as $8 from a drugstore, while designer prescription glasses can cost upwards of $1,500.       

The Cost of Glasses Without Insurance

According to VSP Vision Care, the largest vision insurance company in the US, the average cost of glasses without insurance is $366 without an eye exam. With an eye exam, the average price is $576. 

You can pay for out-of-pocket prescription glasses with HSA or FSA funds if you do not have health insurance. The tables below show the varying out-of-pocket price of glasses from popular retailers and some local eyewear stores in NYC. It also shows the additional costs associated with lens type and add-ons. 

When shopping for glasses, it is not recommended to purchase the cheapest option as you may be sacrificing quality and service. Expensive designer brands don't always offer the best quality glasses either, so it is essential to know what you are looking for when shopping for glasses to find the best ones at a reasonable price. 

Cost of Glasses Without Insurance From Popular Eyewear Stores

Store

Frames

Single- vision

Progressives

Add-ons

Cost to Swap Lens Material

Total

Zenni

$7 - $50

+$0

+$28

+$5 - $14.95

+$9 - $60

$7 - $93

Warby Parker

$95 - $195

+$0

+$200

+$50 - $100

+$50

$95 - $545

Lens Crafters

$99 - $470

+$0

+$199

+$139 - $360

+$40 - $200

$99 - $918

Target

$85 - $222 

+$75

+$200

+$30 - $100

+$160 - $375

$160 - $697

HeyWear

$99  

+$0

N/A

+$29

N/A

$99 - $128

Cost of Glasses Without Insurance From Eyewear Stores in New York

Store

Frames

Single- vision

Progressives

Add-ons

Cost to Swap Lens Material

Total

Grand Central Optical

$349 - $699

+$89

+$299

+$25 - $120

+$100 - $110

$438 - $1,208

Moscot

$300 - $320

+$90  

+$500

+$70 - $130

+$150 - $650

$390 - $1,220

Vint and York

$109 - $319

+$0

+$160

+$50 - $120

+$75 - $225

$109 - $889

Factors That Influence the Price of Glasses 

The frames and type of lenses are just some factors that may influence the cost of glasses. Additionally, if you have a large difference in the prescription for each eye or need a high degree of vision correction, you can expect to pay a little more for your glasses. Below, we outline critical information on what to know about these cost-influencing factors.    

Glasses Frames

Frames can substantially alter the price of your glasses. They come in various shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. Many designers create glasses frames as they are not only used to hold the lenses in place but for fashion purposes. When purchasing frames, consider if you want brand name frames or not, as they can significantly increase the cost of your glasses. For example, frames from Gucci can cost $500, while frames from no-brand names average a price point of $126.   

Types of Lenses

More important than the frames are the glasses' lenses because they correct your vision. Many types of lenses exist that are tailored for different eye conditions. Some of the standard lens types include single-vision, multifocal, and progressive lenses. The prescription from your eye exam will also influence the type of lens you need. 

The type of lens also greatly affects the price of glasses. Since glasses are regulated as a medical device, you will need a prescription to purchase them. You can, however, buy reading glasses and blue light glasses without a prescription.  

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Single-Vision Lenses

The average cost of single-vision lenses without frames is $126. Single vision lenses are the cheapest and most popular type of eyeglass lenses. They only correct eyesight at one specific distance, either close up or far away. Reading glasses use single-vision lenses and can be purchased over-the-counter at drugstores, bookstores, and other retail stores.  

Bifocal & Trifocal Lenses

Multifocal lenses range in price from $70 to $600 depending on the prescription and retailer. Bifocal lenses have two different lens corrections–one at the top half for seeing at a distance and the other for reading on the bottom. Trifocal lenses have three different lens corrections: distance, intermediate, and near vision. These cost more than single-vision lenses but less than progressive lenses. Bluelight glasses also utilize multifocal lenses designed to focus on computer screens

Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses are the most expensive type of lens and can cost anywhere between $175 to $800. They generally function the same way as bifocal or trifocal lenses; however, it is thought to be more aesthetic as there are no visible dividing lines between the different focal areas. Progressive lenses can cause more distortion than other lenses because the focal areas are relatively smaller, making them difficult to wear for approximately 10 percent of the population.

Material of Lenses

For an additional cost, some retailers offer the option to choose a different lens material for your glasses. Most lenses were made from glass in the past, but nowadays, plastic lenses are the most common and affordable. 

Other common lens materials include polycarbonate, Trivex, and high index lenses. These lenses range in price from around $65 for polycarbonate, $100 for Trivex, and about $200 for high index lenses for single-vision lenses. The price increases if the lens is more expensive (multifocal or progressive). 

Location

Purchasing glasses from independent local eyeglass shops or a private doctor's office typically costs more than buying them online or from a large retailer. While they may be more expensive, they reportedly have higher quality employee expertise, customer support, and follow-up services. 

Additional Costs 

Lens coatings are added to lenses to enhance the durability and performance of your glasses. They can be purchased for an additional price that typically ranges between $25 to $90. There is a vast array of different lens coatings that fulfill different purposes. Some lens coatings include:

  • Anti-reflective coating: eliminates glares so that people can see your eyes more easily
  • Scratch-resistant coating: increases the lens' resistance to scratching
  • Anti-fog coating: eliminates fogging
  • Ultraviolet coating: blocks UV light so that the sun does not damage your eyes

Another additional cost of prescription glasses is an eye exam. Without insurance, an eye exam costs about $95 and can range anywhere between $50 to $250

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Frequently Asked Questions About Glasses (FAQs)

Below we answer some common questions you may have as you search for the right pair of glasses.

Will insurance cover the cost of glasses?

Insurance will usually cover most of the cost of prescription glasses with a copay of $20-30 for lenses and an allowance of $130-150 for frames. If you want to buy more expensive brand name frames, you will have to cover the difference. 

Not all plans on the Marketplace include vision coverage for adults; however, all plans cover vision coverage for children. Vision insurance can be purchased with varying levels of coverage. Prices are usually negotiated with specific partners in order to cover the cost of glasses. If you want to buy your glasses somewhere else, you can contact your insurance company and apply for reimbursement to cover the cost. 

Will glasses cause my eyesight to deteriorate?

No, this is a common misconception. Glasses will not cause your eyesight to deteriorate further. Without glasses, your eyes can strain and become fatigued. However, wearing glasses with the wrong prescription can impact your eyes by causing migraines and fatigue and may worsen children's eyesight. 

Where can I purchase glasses?

Where you buy your glasses influences their cost, customer service, employee expertise, and return policies. You can buy glasses at these locations:

  • Eye doctor's office
  • Retail vision stores
  • Online
  • Vision centers (Walmart, Target)
  • Warehouse clubs (Costco, Sam's Club)

What is a stand-alone vision insurance plan?

If your health insurance does not have vision coverage, you can purchase a stand-alone vision insurance plan through an insurance agent broker or search for plans online. Independent vision plans can help reduce vision care expenses and allow you to choose a plan that works for you. 

Bottom Line

There are many variables to account for when purchasing glasses that influence their price. Buying quality lenses with the right prescription is extremely important to correct your vision. Customer service and employee expertise are also essential to value when purchasing glasses. They can help you find the best glasses for you and match your style–all within your budget. The cheapest glasses available may not last long, and the most expensive glasses won't necessarily satisfy your personal needs. 

While Mira does not offer vision insurance, our team can help you find affordable services in your area. For just $45 per month and no deductible, Mira offers low-cost lab testing, affordable urgent-care visits, and discounted prescriptions. Sign up today to get started.