Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Ellen
You get what you pay for. Well, most of the time. This post will give you an idea on what eyeglasses cost in Philippines. Specifically, progressive and transition lenses at the cheapest price I could find. Of course.
Note: this post was updated in May 2023 (see below) to share how these cheap progressive eyeglasses with special coatings held up over two years.
What eyeglasses cost in the Philippines (bargain!)
Like everywhere else on the planet, progressive lenses are always more expensive than singe vision or bifocal lenses. But, for Americans, they are less expensive abroad.
I went to Acebedo Optical in Kalibo, Aklan Province. There are many locations around the Philippines.
At the Kalibo location, the optometrist was professional and thorough, her prescription for me was accurate, and she was also helpful. The staff were superb.
I opted for the lowest-cost progressive lenses, and tried Transition lenses for the first time in my life. (The sun is relentless in the tropics.)
Just as there are different types of progressive lenses at various prices, there are different Transition coatings and prices. I got the cheapest one of those, as well.
I didn’t skimp too much on the frame: titanium frames on nose pads.
And, I also had old lenses put in a second new frame.
The total cost for all of that: just $223 in January 2021. That’s a year ago from this writing, and the Transition coating is cracking off the lenses. To be fair, I’m constantly wearing them and washing the salt water off of them.
UPDATE to my prescription eyeglasses bought in the Philippines
In June 2022, the ‘titanium’ frames broke on the ear piece and could not be fixed. I had the lenses placed into new frames at a great shop in George Town, Malaysia. By November 2022, the coating definitely affects my vision, but I keep them for extreme outdoor events, like desert camping in India. By May 2023, the lenses were unusable. But note: the first year those frames and glasses saw heavy beach use – exposed to salt water.
Additionally, I bought a second pair in March 2022 from the same Kalibo shop. As of May 2023, the coating is fine this time around, perhaps because I haven’t been living on a beach. The second pair cost exactly $200 — for progressive lenses (kinda thick, however) with Transition coating.
So why were they so cheap? Because in the United States of America, a capitalistic society, there’s no competition. Read on, friends, to see more about eyeglass pricing in other countries.
Global eyeglasses – price comparison
I know – I know: bifocals cost less, even trifocals cost less. And the mail-order options cost less. But I like my vision with progressives. I feel ‘normal’. And I’m not into the wait-and-see-when-they-get-here-if-they’re-OK approach.
I’ll stick to shops outside the USA, where I thought $475 was a bargain, and where I have paid $750 for one pair — after insurance!
Glasses in Spain
In Barcelona, I bought middle-of-the road progressive lenses. (By the way, a fairly detailed, yet easy-to-understand explanation on the different types of progressive lenses can be found at a vision website from Canada.)
There were three options at the Spanish shop for the lenses. I bought the type best for computer use. Over the long haul, these glasses have proved to be worth the money. I still use them, occasionally.
I also bought progressive, polarized sunglasses – and it’s such a good thing I did! Since Europe, we’ve been in Southeast Asia’s blazing sunshine way longer than we thought we’d be here, thanks to the pandemic.
For the decent progressive eyeglasses and progressive, polarized sunglasses, I paid $594 in the spring of 2018.
See the previous blog entry for more info on the store, etc.
Glasses in Mexico
In Puerto Vallarta, I bought, I bought top-of-the-line progressive lenses. These were the best eyeglasses I’ve ever had! I got what I paid for, definitely.
Unfortunately, the prescription is now several years old, and one eye cannot see distance as well. And the plastic frames were shot. But my peripheral vision is still great. I loved the lenses so much (even now, years later) that I had the shop in Kalibo take the lenses and put them in new wire frames. I use these eyeglasses frequently.
For the best vision I ever had, I paid $310 in late 2016.
See the previous blog entry for more info on the doctor and location. (It’s one of the top-performing posts on this website.)
The eyeglass monopoly
As David Lazarus recently wrote for the Los Angeles Times, the eyeglass business is a racket. It’s an excellent column and I highly recommend it. He reveals the monopoly in the market. The company contracts several Chinese factories to make lenses.
I’m gonna bet my Philippine lenses came from a Chinese factory – and didn’t go through the monopolistic system and that’s part of the reason why my total bill was so cheap, comparatively speaking.
How ironic, right? Since America is all about capitalism? Yea, the American eyeglass market needs regulation.
At the end of his piece, Lazarus offers ways Americans can try to save money when buying eyeglasses in the USA.
My suggestion for global travelers: buy them abroad.