Does this sound familiar?
You just had an eye exam and you’ve decided to purchase a new pair of glasses. Excited about getting a new look, you try on several frames of varying prices and styles but, for some reason, one in particular stands out. Its finish feels more polished, smooth, and balanced. Plus, it just looks better!
As you try on frames, your instincts tell you that one frame stands out in quality over another. But why is that? What goes on before that frame reaches your face?
Much of the cost of a frame, especially new styles and materials, is in the research and development it takes to bring a the frame to market. As a medical device, in order for a frame to feel good, look great, and protect your eyes, the style must go through a multitude of tests and steps to comply with heavily regulated legal and safety standards.
Just like a car, computer, or bicycle, the materials and quality of parts for eyeglasses can vary greatly! Newer plastics (like acetate) and sturdy metals (like titanium) provide comfort and durability, but at an added cost to acquire and manufacture.
When it comes to the manufacturing process, some frames are created in high quality environments while others are created in third world countries where the work place environment is questionable at best. High quality frames can take up to 100 steps (or more) when manufactured by hand. They often require the use of special machining and welding for high-end materials, and have added steps to ensure a more finished, superior product.
In the case of designer frames, brand licensing itself ensures quality and control. Most well-known brands have strict quality assurance and marketing standards that add to the price but result in a better product for the brand-loyal consumer.
Last but not least, warranties are a great indication of quality in frames today. Unlike insurance or service agreements you pay extra for, manufacturers warranties show that the frame makers stand behind the quality and reputation of their brands.