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How Much Are Prescription Sunglasses?

January 11, 2024

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There are two answers to the question about the price of prescription shades. Knockaround Rx sunglasses are affordable. With most other retailers, prescription sunglasses come with much higher price tags.

Let's look at why that price divide exists and what you get when you order polarized prescription shades from Knockaround.

Man wearing Knockaround Blue Light Blockers Sunglasses with clear lens


Buying prescription sunglasses online is simple with Knockaround's streamlined ordering process. Begin by selecting one of the around 50 available frames. Next, choose your lens type, selecting from different tints. Choices include amber, smoke, silver, and moonshine, as well as a clear option. Then, upload your current eyeglass prescription in a JPG, PNG, or PDF file. Select your pupillary distance (PD). And that's it! Soon enough, a custom-ordered pair of prescription sunglasses will arrive at your front door.

Don't know your PD number? There are a few simple ways to measure pupillary distance.

Knockaround Obsidian Paso Robles Prescription sunglasses with black lens


Some questions in life are difficult, if not impossible, to answer. When did time begin? What's the color of a mirror? Why do we have refrigerator lights but no freezer lights? But the answer to what most prescription glasses usually cost is an easy one: a lot. They can be eye-poppingly expensive. One survey on prescription sunglasses puts the average cost as high as $500.

Of course, that's not the case with Knockaround prescription sunglasses. We offer high-quality prescription shades for significantly less than the average price.

So why do others sell prescription sunglasses at such high prices? Markup. Lots and lots of markup. Rife with outrageous price gouging, the prescription glasses market makes staggering profits by marking up their glasses. How high? As much as 1,000% (that's not a typo — one thousand percent!). That revelation comes from two former executives of a well-known eyewear company in a tell-all interview with The Los Angeles Times. 

Also reporting on this industry-wide price-hiking norm, which has few parallels in the retail world, the U.K.'s Guardian writes, "During the 20th century, the eyewear business worked hard to transform a physical deficiency into a statement of style. In the process, optical retailers learned the strange fact that for something that costs only a few [dollars] to make...we are happy, happier in fact, when paying 10 or 20 times that amount."

Why are people "happy" to pay more? Much more than they need to for prescription glasses? It's part of a sales strategy dubbed "romancing the brand." It's about creating an emotional connection between the consumer and the branded product, rather than focusing on the benefits of the product. And it works. Last year, the U.S. eyewear market was valued at $170 billion. Forecasters predict that the number will rise to $300 billion over the next 15 years. Most of the Americans who bought (and will buy) that eyewear overpaid by whopping amounts.

But not those who choose Knockarounds. We focus on the quality of our glasses and leave how you feel about your shades to you. Which, judging by the customer reviews you can find online, is a pretty awesome feeling!

Knockaround Blue Light Blockers Sunglasses with clear lens


There may be no feature that gets as big a price hike on sunglasses as polarization. The way some retailers jack up their prices for polarized shades, you'd think they were coating the lenses with solid gold! On average, most retailers add an extra 30% for polarized lenses. And if these retailers are already marking up their sunglasses by jaw-dropping margins before the polarization add-on, that extra 30% is often enormous.

What does paying that extra cost get you? Nothing. A publication by Canada's McGill University puts it plainly: "While you may think that the more expensive a pair of shades is, the better the UV protection is, that is simply (and thankfully) not true."

Knockaround is an exception to this persistent price-hiking norm. Why? We don't need to pass on invented costs to customers. Polarization doesn't add 30% to the price of making sunglasses. Even prescription sunglasses. So we offer polarized and non-polarized Knockarounds at comparable (and affordable) prices.


Do you get the same UV protection with prescription glasses as you do with sunglasses? Yes. If both offer UV400 protection, which Knockarounds do. UV400 blocks from 99% to 100% of ultraviolet light.

So what exactly does UV400 protect against? UV light. Which is problematic and differs from visible light. While both are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light has higher energy than visible light. UV light more easily penetrates the eye, raising the risk of ocular damage, including cataracts, cancers, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The amount of UV light we're exposed to depends on several factors. Time spent outdoors. Location relative to sea level. Levels of pollution in the air. Position of the sun in the sky. And more. But no matter the environment, if you're outside, your eyes will be exposed to some level of ultraviolet light. Unless you wear glasses with UV protection.

Couple wearing Knockaround Blue Light Blockers with clear lens


So which is better? Getting glasses online or going into a brick-and-mortar place? Consumer Reports asked that very question of people who made in-store and online purchases of prescription glasses. The results? 

Online is the clear winner when it comes to price. In a 2022 survey of Consumer Reports members, the median out-of-pocket price for online prescription glasses was $224. The in-person out-of-pocket cost was $511. The convenience of online shopping was also a big plus among survey respondents.

Then there's quality; online prescription glasses have seen a considerable increase in quality over the past decade or so. A 2021 Consumer Reports study found that 90% of online prescription glasses met industry standards for factors including impact resistance and prescription quality. A similar 2011 study showed that only 65% of online prescription glasses met those same industry standards. It seems as if online prescription glasses are here to stay!

If you’re looking for affordable prescription sunglasses, look no further. With around 50 choices in a range of colorways, your perfect pair of polarized prescription shades is just a few clicks away!

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround

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