Same Glasses, Different Prices


I wanted to try photochromic lenses so I didn’t have to carry around an extra pair of glasses. I had already found a pair of frames that I liked, so I priced out a few options. The frames were Luxottica, so there is no direct comparison to other popular options that only have house brand frames.

The prescription quoted is standard index, single vision. The following sections are ordered from most to least expensive with a summary table at the end. Besides the least expensive option that I went with, all other businesses will be described in terms of in or out of network and the service they offer, actual business names will not be included.

Out of Network – Eyewear Store

Lenses (Polycarbonate)N/A$199
Anti-Reflective CoatingN/A$149
Photochromic CoatingN/A$149
Total with VSP ReimbursementN/A$450

The price was so high that I didn’t ask about clear lenses.

Out of Network – Optometrist

Photochromic Coating$0$130
Total with VSP Reimbursement$285$415

In Network – Optometrist

Lenses (Polycarbonate)$31$31
Anti-Reflective Coating$95$95
Photochromic Coating$0$75
Total with VSP‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎$219$294

Frames were $265 before insurance, wasn’t given non-insurance pricing for the others. Frame cost on the manufacturer’s website was $266.

Amazon + Costco

Frames (Amazon)$108$108
Lenses (Costco)$60$100
Frame Pattern Fee (Costco)$25$25
Total with VSP Reimbursement$93$133

You have to be a Costco member to purchase frames or lenses. The discount compared to an optometrist was more than the price of a yearly membership though ($60 per year plus tax). A valid prescription from any optometrist can be used. The optometrist at Costco is independent and does not require a membership.

The lenses include an anti-reflective coating and are made of Mitsui Chemicals’ MR series by default. Polycarbonate is available if requested, but I went with their recommendation of the default material.

I’m not sure how easy it is to get Amazon frames approved for out of network reimbursement typically. I didn’t have an issue and I think it helped that the model number was a vision only frame, sold by Amazon not a third party, and “prescription eyeglass frames” was in the title.

Frames were roughly the same cost on Amazon as some eBay sellers, but I figured Amazon would have a higher chance of reimbursement since Echo frames are eligible.

One word of caution for this option, the person giving you the eye exam isn’t the same person being held accountable for how much you like your prescription. This likely isn’t an issue since Costco usually has a great return policy, but it should be noted.

If you’re able to find a frame for under $70 and want clear lenses, with VSP the total cost could be as low as $70 – $70 + $60 + $25 – $30 = $55.

The $25 frame pattern fee sounds odd at first, but it’s the same cost as a typical copay or lab fee.


ClearClear (VSP)PhotochromicPhotochromic (VSP)
Out – Eyewear StoreN/AN/A$550$450
Out – Optometrist$385$285$515$415
In – OptometristN/A$219N/A$294
Amazon + Costco$193$93$233$133

Amazon + Costco even without VSP was less expensive than all the other options with VSP.

The table above can help determine if VSP is worth the cost. If your employer covers a significant percentage of the cost and you use the benefits, it likely makes sense, even if it’s just for the $100 out of network reimbursement for frames and lenses ($70 and $30 respectively).

For finding a frame that will look decent with photochromic lenses, find a frame that’s sold both for prescription glasses and sunglasses. For example, the Persol PO3092V is a prescription frame and the PO3092SM is a sunglasses frame.

Finding a few frames on Amazon with free returns is a great way to try on a few pairs with minimal effort.

If you have a FSA, remember to use it and hopefully this helps estimate how much to add during open enrollment.


Below are some other miscellaneous prices I’ve gathered. Since it’s not as direct of a comparison, it’s in a separate section.

In Network – Optometrist

BP FramesBP Frames (VSP)Moscot FramesMoscot Frames (VSP)
Lenses (CR39)$100$0$100$0
A/R D Regular$140$95$140$95

BP is the Barton Perreira – Princeton BAT, $405 on the manufacturer’s website.

Moscot is the Authur, $290 on the manufacturer’s website.

In Network – Optometrist

Pricing for lenses only:

No InsuranceWith VSP
Lenses (Trivex)$220$51
A/R Coating D (TechShield Elite)$180$75

Ray Ban RB5283 frames were $196 without insurance, $189 on the manufacturer’s website.

In Network – Optometrist

Ray Ban RB5283 frames were $119 with insurance, $189 on the manufacturer’s website. It’s likely not a coincidence that the discount is the same as the $70 out of network frame reimbursement

Lenses with no coatings were just the $25 copay amount.