Review: Costco Optical

I’ve been wearing glasses or contacts since I was about 12. As I’ve aged, my eyes have gotten worse and my glasses prescription has become more complex. For the last 20 years or so, I’ve bought my glasses from the optician associated with my optometrist or ophthalmologist. Vision insurance paid for some of the cost, but had to be used at certain locations. Even with insurance, my glasses cost a lot so I had to wait every 2 years before getting a new pair; I believe my last pair of glasses cost over $600 out of pocket with insurance picking up about the same. That’s just crazy for a pair of glasses!

My parents have been using Costco Optical for years and have generally been satisfied with them. This year after my eye exam, I wasn’t eligible for insurance to cover anything on my glasses, so I decided to try out Costco. My ophthalmologist warned me about their lenses and said they weren’t as good as the ones her optician sold. How many companies actually manufacture lenses? I know that Luxottica basically has corned the market on vision insurance, frames, lenses and retail outlets! I figured I didn’t have much to risk trying out Costco; they do have their own lab in Chula Vista (south of San Diego) and computers do most of the work grinding the lenses.

A few weeks ago, we went to Eyeglass World to buy my son new glasses (he wanted the same ones he already had so that was easy). My wife and I looked at frames and they had a decent selection of frames. Going through the numbers, 2 pair of glasses for me (regular glasses and computer glasses) would have been $700, I believe. We decided to visit Costco to see what they could do. Costco’s frame selection isn’t as large, but we both managed to find frames that we liked. I found "designer" Oakley frames that were about $85 (frame only) vs the standard frames that ran about $50; definitely lower priced than other places, but the frame price is only a small fraction of the cost of a pair of glasses for me.

My wife picked out sunglasses and regular glasses; I picked regular and computer glasses. Both of us have pretty bad eyes and need progressive lenses in high index material that tends to drive up the price. I like transitions (darkening) in my regular glasses so that adds to the cost. By the time we were done with our glasses, it cost us $700 for 4 pair of glasses (my wife had about $150 in insurance benefit)! Wow, after we paid I told my wife that if the glasses work out, there will never be a reason for me to wait for insurance to kick in to buy new ones!

I’ve been wearing the glasses for a few weeks now and it took a little getting used to the computer glasses (the other glasses are about the same prescription as my last ones). I’m pretty impressed with them; I can see well and I really like the frames. The optician I went to had 1 or 2 men’s styles and nothing like what I got. I’m really kind of surprised how much I like my glasses. They seem well made and the prescription seems on target.

Pros

  • Excellent price
  • Backed by Costco
  • 90 day guarantee to make it right (i.e. wrong prescription, made wrong, etc.)

Cons

  • Limited selection of frames
  • Limited choices on lens options (Costco offered 2 types of Transitions; Eyeglass World offered 4 including 1 that would change while driving)

Summary
If you wear glasses and need new ones, I would definitely check out Costco. The price is truly amazing and I couldn’t be happier with the quality of the lenses.

One Reply to “Review: Costco Optical”

  1. Eyeglass World can be great for simple prescriptions if you avoid the upsell options. We walked out with two sets of prism glasses for under $100 recently.

    (We needed the more expensive lighter lenses for another prescription, though)

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