The 60 Minutes Luxottica Show Was Fake News

Back in 2013, 60 Minutes ran an expose on Luxottica, claiming they owned 80% of the eyeglass market and they were basically gouging consumers on pricing (Sticker Shock) This is no more true today than it was four years ago. Today, we just have another term for the piece, “FAKE NEWS. The problem was and still is that we, optical professionals bought the news and still disseminate the falsehoods that one company owns upwards of 80% of the market.

Press Release

Even worse, we let the other Media (Forbes, Daily Mail) and other eyewear companies perpetuate this Fake News. Shame on them and us and every new company that says.. we found out that one company owns 80% of the market. NOT True. As an FYI Even Snopes says that is NOT TRUE.

Blenders Eyewear

Over the last week, we have done a series of who owns what in the optical sector. According to reports Luxottica owns 13% and Essilor owns 14%, which makes it about 27% of the market. Even Luxottica stated they own only 10% of the market (2013) This is far cry from from 80% that everyone quotes from that absolutely ridiculous 60 Minute report.

The Sunglass Monopoly You Didn’t Know About

Sunglass pricing always confused us. If you live in a beach town like us, there are these little shops that sell cheap sunglasses for $15, or two pairs for $20. If you go to a retail store and want to get a pair of everyday sunglasses by brands like Ray-Ban or Oakley, suddenly you’re looking at $150 and up. Oh, you want polarized lenses? That’s an extra $30. These are largely plastic frames… literally a couple dollars in production cost. Lenses, even the best quality, aren’t really that expensive because there is no prescription. If you want a luxury sunglasses brand like Prada, DKNY, or BVLGARI, you’re going to drop $300, $600, or maybe well over $1000. How can roughly the same product be priced so differently?

The people who sell the branded sunglasses will tell you that the lenses at those little shops are crappy, and even worse for the long term health of your eyes than not wearing sunglasses. They’re partially telling you the truth, but they’re not telling you the whole story.

Really cheap sunglasses often do have crappy lenses with no UV protection, breakable hinges and poorly made components. Because they sell them for $10, they do everything they can to drive the costs out of production. Can we use a cheap hinges and save 15 cents? Done. They’re aiming for the bottom and they need to make these for under around $2 so they can ship and wholesale them for $5 to hit that magic price point of $10 or $15. Quality is not even on their radar.

What the larger sunglass brands aren’t telling you is that while it truly is more expensive to build a quality pair of sunglasses, it’s not really that much more expensive. Want the best lenses? Maybe it’s $5-$10 instead of 50 cents. Okay, that does seem like a big difference. However, it doesn’t explain why one retail product is $15 and the other is $150. Using good hinges and good frames, plastic or metal, have even less of an impact on the production cost. What’s the real reason sunglasses are so expensive? There are two reasons.

First, one company controls nearly 80% of all sunglass production, distribution, and retail worldwide. All the brands named above are all actually made by the same company, Luxottica. In fact, they own most all of the sunglass retailers too. Basically, they have rolled up nearly the entire sunglass industry. The prices of sunglasses are high not because they’re expensive to produce, but simply because Luxottica says so. It makes sunglasses fantastically profitable for them, and consumers equate price with quality so we go with it. That’s the reality of it.

The second reason sunglasses are expensive is because the vast majority of them are sold thru a traditional 3-tier distribution channel. Brands buy from overseas factories and sell to distributors in each country. The distributors have salespeople that call on retail shops. The retail shops sell to consumers. The factories take a relatively small markup, but then the brands take a hefty markup, as do the distributors, as do the retailers and the sales people need their cut too. If they based pricing on costs (which they don’t, as it’s a near monopoly and they just price however they want), sunglasses would still cost 4-5 times what they cost to produce and deliver because of the distribution channel. The take away is that the channel is 80% of the cost you are paying for a retailed pair of sunglasses. (Sunglass by Tower)

Looking at the Retail Brick and Mortar Stores

25,000+ Department and Sporting Good stores which carry both Lux-Ess products and independent brands. Neiman Marcus carries independents such as Anna Karin Karlsson, Retrosuperfuture, Illesteva, LeSpecs, Sunday Somewhere, Thierry Lasry, Barton Perreira, Garrett Leight, Valley Eyewear, Elizabeth and James. Colete (France) carries Dax Gabler, Linda Farrow, Italia Independent, BAPE x MasterMind, Garrett Leight and Barton Perreira.

10,000+ Branded Fashion Stores: These are stores such as Sass and Bide (3 stores), American Eagle Outfitters, NY& C, Saturdays New York (10 locs), Mexx stores (200 stores), Brighton, Nasty Gal, Markimeko, which carry primarily their own branded products.

Brighton Sunwear with over 195 Brighton Stores 

1000  Independent ‘Eyewear Brand’ Stores; These are optical wholesalers who also have their own retail locations: Alexander Daas (3 locs) Barton Perriera (4), Cutler and Gross (8 locs), Cheap Monday,  Anne Et Valetin, Brenner, Cutler and Gross (8 Locs) Dita (4 locations) Eyewear From Barcelona (3 locs), Funk Eyewar (4 stores) Frenchy and Mercury (3 stores) Garret Leight (8 locations) Glassing (5 stores) Illesteva (8 locations) Italia Independent (Italy) 10 locations, Kaibosh (5 stores) Kaneko (45) La Font (France) 5 locations, Linda Farrow (UK) 4 locations, Mykita (8), Optic Japan, Sama (CA, NY) 4 locations, Selima (7 locations) TD Tom Davies (5 stores) Toms Eyewear (10 stores) Traction Productions (3 stores)  9Five Eyewear (CA) 5 locations, Etnia Barcelona (1) All of the above can be seen at Optical Trade Shows. Many of these Eyewear brands would be considered luxury eyewear.

Via Lafont

1000 ‘Designers’ These stores are fashion apparel stores that may or may not show on runways. Some are: Acne Studios (38 stores) Dax Gabler, Chrome Hearts (30 stores) Louie Vuitton (90 stores) Victor and Rolf (1) Hans Kjobenhavn,(6 stores) Johnny Was, Jason Wu, Billy Reid, Alice + Olivia, Karen Walker (7 locations) These are a few designers that don’t really license out their brands. Add in companies such as Invicta Watches (9 stores) and it adds up.

20,000+ Licensed Brand Stores: This are ‘designer’ names which license out their name. There are over 500 licensed eyewear names. Between Luxottica and Essilor they only have 42 licensed brands which have stores. Top names not carried by Luxottica, Essilor, Marchon and Safilo which all have stores: Crocs (A&A Optical), Rip Curl, Calloway (Walman), Replay, Benetton, Missoni (Allison), Sisley, Vivienne Westwood, IZOD, London Fog, Paul Frank (Baum Vision) to name a few. Included are jewelry, clothing, accessories, movies, celebrities, department stores, jeans, shoes. All which have their own branded stores.

  • For instance Marcolin- Viva: Diesel (100 stores) Zegna (543 stores) Gant, (600 stores) Guess (1700+ stores) Harley Davidson (1500 stores) Kenneth Cole (300+ stores) Sketchers (2000 stores) Swarovski (2680 stores) Timberland (253 stores) I do not know if every store carries the product, but it would seem likely they do.

LVMH owns 70 ‘houses’, many include eyewear licenses. Loewe (DeRigo), Louie Vuitton (self), Christian Dior (Safilo), Fendi (Safilo), Celine (Safilo) Pucci (Marcolin), Givenchy (Safilo), Kenzo (Lamy) Gucci (Kering) Marc Jacobs (Safilo) Bvglari (Luxottica) Fred, Tag. Adding more confusion as to who owns what to the eyeglass arena:

French luxury goods group LVMH (LVMH.PA) is set to take a stake of up to 10 percent in unlisted Italian glasses-maker Marcolin as it seeks to increase control over eyewear manufacturing for its brands, a source close to the matter said on Thursday. The move follows rival Kering’s (PRTP.PA) decision to take its eyewear business in house by terminating its Gucci licensing agreement with Safilo (SFLG.MI). It is also part of a wider trend that has seen luxury brands buy their suppliers to have more control over their brand image and boost profits. (Source)

100 Eyecare Professionals that are bringing in their own line: Dresden, Iolla, Vernon Gantry, Norman Childs, Cubitts, to name a few.

Online Companies

100+ New Eyewear- Sunglass companies per year that are selling online, creating their own brand. Many getting their start on Crowdfunding sites.

500+ Low Vision and Reader Companies that are branding their own readers and low vision devices. There are a few chains in this arena although most of this market appears to be sold online. A.J. Morgan, B+D Eyewear, CD Design, Eye Bobs, Eye O’s, Peepers by Peeper Specs to name a few that can be seen at Vision Expo’s. Essilor has invested heavily into the reader sector via FGX.

100+ Vintage Eyewear Companies: This are vintage optical retailers that products are being sold either online and through sites such as Etsy, Amazon, online and 1stDibs.


2,000+ Online companies selling eyewear and sunglasses: Again this is an under-estimate. While some of these companies sell branded eyewear, the trend is their brands.

One has to wonder if Luxottica and Essilor really own even 25% of the retail side of the optical market.

Breaking it Down just on the Retail Side 

Luxottica x Essilor: 21,000+ retail locations globally (Estimated)

  • USA Top Retailers:  8820 locations (excludes Vision Source and PERCS as they are Essilor) (See Vision Monday Top Retail Report 2016)
  • Cigna Medical Group (AZ) 8 locations.
  • Mayo Clinic (2 locs)
  • Classic Specs (NY) (8 locs)
  • Dean Eye Clinic (16 locations)
  • Herslof  (Wisconsin) 20 locations
  • Kaiser (CA, OR, CO, NY) 80 locations
  • Perverse Sunglasses (Los Angeles, CA) currently with 8 locations they are going to grow.
  • Retro Specs (4 locations)
  • Philadephia Eyeglass Labs (PA) 6 locations, established in 1888.
  • Steve Alan Optical ( 20 locations in the US)
  • VSP is going into CVS pharmacies i believe they are slated for 10 locations.
  • Vision Plus (WA) 15 locations that is going into Drug Stores.
  • Treehouse Eyes (2 locations, expecting to grow to 20 locations and up to 75 locations. This is Gary Gerber’s myopia focus for kids.

Top Eyecare Retailers Globally: These are not all the only top retailers around the world.

  • Hal Holdings– Grand Vision: 7000 Locations Globally in the USA it is around 40.
  • Kering (1800 Location) owns Alexander McQueen (40 stores) Bottego Veneta (251 stores) Boucheron (1 store) Brioni (10 stores) Cartier (300 stores) Christopher Kane, Cobra, Gucci, Jean Richard, Puma, Stella McCartney, Tomas Maier, Volcom, YSL to the total of about 1800 stores globally.
  • DeRigo: About 800 Retail locations under Boots Opticians and Walgrens. There are almost 8000 Walgrens.
  • Chili Bean Company (Brazil and CA) 600+ Globally with 6 locations in California.
  • Three Monkeys Eyewear (Brazil) 6 locations with one in New York City. They have exhibited at Vision Expo.
  • Safilo’s Solistice (150 locations)
  • Fredrichs Optique (8 Locs)

In another look around the world:

Mexico; According to Euromonitor : 2015, the competitive environment in eyewear continued to be concentrated, with the top five players accounting for a combined value share of 32%. As in other countries, in Mexico contact lenses is a particularly concentrated category, with the leading three manufacturers accounting for a combined value share of 80%. Luxottica Mexico and Safilo de Mexico were the top two players within sunglasses with double-digit value shares in 2015, followed at a distance by Marchon Mexico. Increased vertical integration, an aggressive mergers and acquisitions strategy, enhanced distribution and strong commercial partnerships with leading optical shops in Mexico work to keep the industry concentrated.

Optical shops continued to lead sales of eyewear in Mexico in 2016, accounting for a 65% value share. Mexicans value receiving personal assistance from optical professionals with regard to what they need in terms of eyewear. Leading Mexican optical shops and chain stores are also increasingly offering free eye check-ups for consumers.

  • Sunglass Island and Island Optica (75+ Locations) owned by Safilo
  • Devlyn- 1200 Stores, established in 1936. Devlyn is a give back company as well.
  • Costco has 34 locations in Mexico, many have optical departments.

Central and South America

  • Infinite Eyewear (500+ Stores) 


  • Hakim Optical  (161 locations)
  • FYI Doctors (260 locations)
  • New Look Eyewear (75+ Locations)
  • Opto-Reseau (95 locations)


  • Egypt: Magrabi Optical: approximately 30 locations. Established by Dr. Amin El-Maghraby in Egypt in 1927. Currently, son  Dr. Akef El-Maghraby continues to invest in the field of eye care services, and lay the foundation for Magrabi Hospitals and the Magrabi Retail Group.
  • Egypt (Sedrak Optics) over 20 stores

East- Asia

  • China: Doctorglasses Chain Co Ltd : 2016 sales of 415.94 million. We do not know much about this company except sales and they were going to ‘debut trade’ on the Shenzhen stock exchange in March of 2017.
  • SingaporeOwndays: (300+ Stores) Global retailer with stores in Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Australia, Taiwan and The Netherlands. The concept is a simple price system and glasses in 20 minutes.
  • Hong Kong: Puyi Optical -Glassique with over 30 stores
  • India: LensKart: (50+locations) Founded in 2010, they are online retailer of eyewear that now has retail locations through India. Home Try- on. They have a one for one program as well as offer Franchise opportunities.
  • India: LensPick: Online retailer of Eyewear that now has 13 locations. Established in 2013, they offer ‘Home Eyecare’
  • India: EyeGear Optics or Ben Franklin. (300 Locations) Opened in 2008. In 2015  EyeGear Optics India raised a round of funding on February 03, 2015. Investors include Asian Healthcare Fund.
  • India: Eye Plus- Helios via Titan Watch (400 locations) Watch stores that branched out into eyewear.
  • Indonesia: Optik Melawai: Founded in 1981 this optical chain has an estimated 200 locations if not more. Over 83,000 Likes on Facebook. Product is also sold online.
  • Japan: Jins; Established in 1988, With over 400 store locations, Jins has their own branded eyewear and has started expanding into other markets . On the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Code #3046) They now have 7 locations in the United States.
  • Japan: Meganesuper Company (327 stores) US $138.54 million) for the fiscal year ending April of 2016. Founded in 1980, offers eyeglasses, contact lenses and accessories, hearing aids, etc.
  • Japan: Zoff: Optical Stores and online. (60+ Locations) Cannot find out exactly how many locations. Founded in 1993.
  • Japan: Kaneko Optical: (45 locations) Kaneko was founded in 1958 as an optical wholesaler. Attending optical trade shows in 1988, they soon launched their own retail shops, including New York, under the Brands The Stage, Facial Index, Complex+. You can find them at Vision Expo’s
  • Japan; Established in 1911 Optec Japan  Under Optec Vision Corporation, they Plan, Design and manufacture eyewear. Along with that, they own-manage over 13 eyewear retail shops eyewear including a License agreement for Oliver Peoples and Paul Smith Eyewear. Known for the relaunch of Eyevan which has 10 locations.
  • Japan: Oh My Glasses Established in 2011 they have 5 locations and show at Hong Kong Trade Fair
  • Korea: Gentle Monster (14 locations) Gentle Monster has taken the optical and fashion world by their eyeteeth.
  • Korea: Office W Corporation (5 locations) and they show at Hong Kong Trade Fair. Established in 2000.
  • Malaysia: Axis Eyewear Group: (24 stores) Founded in 1999
  • Malaysia: Owl Eyewear (5 locations)
  • Malaysia: Focus Point Holdings: 109 stores with 74 Franchises. Brands; Opulence, Whoosh, Focus Point, ExcelView, Ray-Ban, and Optical City. Operated by Berhad investment holding company. The company is also involved in the trading of eyewear and eye care products; management of franchised professional eye care centers; provision of medical eye care, laser eye surgery treatment, and food and beverages services; trading of hearing aid solutions and related accessories; retail of optical and related products; and trading of medical equipment and medical devices.  The company was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Petaling… According to Bloomberg, they did about $37.5 Million.
  • Phillippines: Sunnies Specs- Sunnies Studio 45+ stores
  • Taiwan: Formosa: (over 300 locations). Formosa Optical Technology Co., Ltd. is principally engaged in the provision of retail and optometry services for spectacles and contact lenses, as well as the trade of eye drops. The Company provides frames, including optical frames and sunglasses frames; lenses, including near-sighted lenses, astigmatism lenses, far-sighted lenses, asymptotic multi-focal lenses and sunglasses lenses; contact lenses, including long wear contact lenses, disposable contact lenses, astigmatism contact lenses and corneal discoloration contact lenses, as well as various eye drops and optometry services. During the year ended December 31, 2013, spectacle business contributed 100% of the Company’s total revenue. Sale of $89.23 million. According to Bloomberg.

Middle East

  • Bahrain:  Delmon Optical – (10 locations) Optical and Hearing Aid center. They exhibited at Silmo. Established in 1976 by Dr. Mohammed Hassan Khalaf
  • Optitalia Group- OptiFashion-Safilo– 6 locations
  • UAR: Rivoli Group joint venture with Marcolin. (50 locations)

Australia- New Zealand

  • Bailey Nelson 39 stores in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK. Sells online
  • Dresden Eyewear (4 locs) they are the optical group that is making eyewear from trash.
  • Rt. Mojo: A group of 15 optometrists who have banded together.

Europe: Revenue in the “Eyewear” market amounts to US$41,723m in 2017. The market is expected to grow annually by 2.3 % (CAGR 2017-2020). From an international perspective it is shown that most revenue is generated in France (US$8,728m in 2017). Germany: This statistic shows the revenue development of the optical industry in Germany from 2007 to 2015. In 2007, the sector generated a revenue of roughly 4.59 billion euros. (Statisical Brain)

  • SpecSavers (200o locations globally)  Philanthropic chain of optical stores based in UK, but stores in Australia
  • Alain Affelou (1436 locs) in 16 different countries and 5 continents Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australasia.  AFFLELOU is a European group of eyewear and hearing aid franchises. Founded in 1972,  In 2006, Bridgepoint Capital, a UK investment firm, acquired a majority stake in the company.  In 2006, Bridgepoint Capital, a UK investment firm, acquired a majority stake in the company. Attends Silmo. Canceled IPO in Feb of 2016.
  • Krys Group (1400 Stores) under 4 brands: (Krys, Vision Plus, Lynx Optics, Krys Audition),  6,000 specialists to welcome 4,000,000 customers every year. Founded in 1967. 1 factory with state-of-the-art lens manufacturing in France (Label Origine France Garantie), certified ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment) and OHSAS 18001 (Safety). It appears that they partner with HOYA. Eyewear brands are from Police, Faconnable, RayBan, Elle, PepeJeans, Armani, Kiss, Oakley, Ralph Lauren, Julbo, Banana Moon, You+K.
  • Optic 2000 (1200 locations) Established in 1962. Locations in Germany, France and more. They carry some Luxottica product in addition to Faconable, Paul and Joe, Carrera and Hugo Boss, Kosby, Marc Jacobs, Vogue, Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld and LaCoste.
  • Opticalia (800 locations) Exclusive brands: Pepe Jeans, Custo Barcelona, Antonio Banderas, Pull&Bear, David Fin, Amichi, Javier Larrainzar, Mango and TheLook. The have shown at optical trade shows such as Vision Expo, Silmo and Hong Kong. Established in 1980. In Spain and Portugal 
  • Fielman (700 Locations) Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Poland. Fileman Public Fielmann AG engages in the operation of and investment in optical businesses, hearing aid companies and the manufacture and sale of visual aids and other optical products. They say on their website that Fielmann sells almost every second pair of German spectacles. In their facility ‘In a two-shift operation, an average of more than 19,000 lenses are manufactured per day and more than 56,000 orders are processed.’ In 2016, the latest technology was used to manufacture in excess of 4.8 million lenses of all levels and Fielmann supplied more than 8.0 million frames. In 1994, Fielmann AG was floated on the stock market with share capital of DM 105 million (€53.68 million). The company was the first in Germany to issue the DM 5 share. They sell their own brand.
  • Hans Anders, 456 locations Optical and Hearing Aids in at least 4 countries. Netherlands based.
  • Luz Optique (France) Buying Group, hearing aid with 380 members.
  • Optivisao (270+ Stores) Established in 1989, Optivisao is a public limited company. What leads the Optivision Group is called Optivision – Óptica, Serviços e Investimento, S.A., and is owned by Portuguese shareholders, wholly opticians. Based in Portugal
  • Pro- Optic 134 stores in Germany
  • Matt Optik (78 stores) Germany
  • Abele Optik (74 Stores) Germany
  • Acuitis 40 locations (France)
  • Aktiv Optik (74 locations) (Germany)  includes Franchises
  • Optiker Bode (73 Stores) Established in 1938 in Germany
  • Krass Optik (67+Stores) in Germany
  • Binder Optik (44 Stores) Gemany. Established in 1975. They carry indie brands such as Cazal, Cebe, Brendel, Bolle (Bushnell) Betty Barclay, Adidas, Espirit, Etnia Barcelona, Hackett, H.I.S., Inface, Jisco, Jolie, Makellos and more.
  • Eye Love Sunglasses (30 locs) we believe they have about 30 locations.
  • Cross Eyes (Denmark and UK) about 24 store locations. They carry their own branded product.
  • Viu Eyewear (25 stores) Based in Switzerland. This is their own branded product.
  • Grupo Cione (20 locs) based in Spain
  • 41 Eyewear (20 locations) based in Portugal. This is their own branded product.
  • Ace and Tate (15 Locations) (Netherlands)Flat fee pricing. Has a ‘creative fund’ in which they give back to artists. They sell their own brand.
  • Jimmy Fairly (12 locations) France’s answer to Warby Parker. One for One program with their own brand.
  • Our Legacy (Sweden) 5 locations

There is no doubt that many of the above top Retailers carry Luxottica, Essilor, Safilo, Marchon, Marcolin, DeRigo, Mondottica and Charmant products. There is a good smattering of indie brands plus their own products. We see the trend of building their own brand, which is probably one of the reason why Lux-Essilor have been purchasing retail locations.

If I pull out the Licensed Branded Stores and  Department Stores there are over 36,000 optical retailers in the world, not counting the smaller Mom and Pop Stores. Those Mom and Pop stores account for at least 200,000 Small Independent Optical Retailers Globally. That is over 236,000 thousand retailers v.s Lux-Essilor 22,000.

Eyewear Manufacturers

In this sector of the optical industry, there are manufacturers and distributors, exporters and importers. Material manufacturers such as Mazzucchelli Zyl, there are hinge, screws and other parts manufacturers-distributors. Most of the Eyewear manufacturers are based in China, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Italy, UK, Poland, Greece. The exact number of manufacturers? We under-estimate 1000+ manufacturers.

Many of the distributors (1000+) are also bringing in their own lines. As an example: Classique Eyewear just brought in Gios, Walman has Imagewear.

More information is available on sites such as Ali Baba and Ali Express. Ali Baba; 267,000+ for eyewear. Ali Express has 171,000 listings.

Nobody doubts that RayBan is the number #1 best selling sunglass. Oakley is probably in the top 5 if not number 2. They have over 250 Oakley Outlets plus their online sales. Rumor has it, that RayBan will be opening their own stores as well if they haven’t already.

30+ 3D Printed Eyewear companies: We have said this many times, 3D printing will change the face of manufacturing in the future. Mykita, Hoet, Rogers Eye Design, ic!berlin, Hoya’s Yuniku, Roger Bacon, Shorehill, Forma to name a few companies.

50 Funky Eyewear companies: This includes some lifestyle and novelty glasses such as Coco and Breezy, Hi-Tek Designs, Moo Eyewear, Stevie Boi, Percy Lau, I Still Love You NY, A-Morrir.

100 Smart Glass manufacturers: The players in this arena are google, Nokia, Vuzix, Epson, Samsung, Spectracles (Snapchat), Pivothead, Recon Instruments, ODG and Facebook with Oculus Rift. Amazon and Apple are coming out with their own Smart Glasses. Both Essilor and Luxottica are making in-roads in this arena. Safilo just got into the market with their Lowdown Focus, Carl Zeiss and VSP and several companies including Clearvision and Essilor are using PogoTech. Predictions say that this will be a 20 Billion dollar business by 2020.


100 Bespoke Eyewear Craftsmen such as Nackymade, Figs, Adam Mugervo, Som Noir, Wesley Knight. Some have stores, but most sell online.

50 Natural Materials companies: These are companies such as Shwood, Norton Point, Dresden, Formenta and wood eyewear companies that are making eyeglass and sunglasses from recycled materials such as trash, cork, wood, recycled materials.

Lens Manufacturers-Distributors:

Most of us know the major lens brands: Hoya, IOT, Shamir (50% Essilor), Corning (Mitsui), Barberini, Carl Zeiss, NXT (PPG), Younger, Chromagen, Enchroma, Seiko (Hoya), Pentax (Hoya), Augen Optics, Walman, Blue Tech lenses, Shaw Lens and Vision-Ease (Hoya). ABB has lenses and with FreeForm any lab can brand their lenses. Would you believe that their are 17 other Lens companies that are members of The Vision Council?

In fact, looking at 107 companies that list lens brands: 1 lists NXT, 1 lists Barberini, 1 lists Coppertone, 5 list (Hoya-Visionease) 2 lists CR39, 5 lists HOYA, 10 list Essilor, 83 list Carl Zeiss Vision Lenses.

The list is growing particulary in photochromic lenses and blue light lenses. Some companies have their own Propriety lenses such as Maui Jim. Add in distributors such as Basin Optical Lab, (Las Vegas) and All in one surfacing such as Fast Grind which has their own lenses.. Let’s just say the the lens business is becoming increasingly more competitive.

If you go to HKTrade there are 792 companies which list optical lenses. Ali Baba lists over 17,000 eyeglass lens supplies. 

Optical Surfacing Labs

It would be a huge project to go through 199 countries and their cities to find every lab that is not owned by Essilor- Luxottica.What you can probably believe that any of the listed ‘top retailers’ has an lab or two in place. Essilor says they own 490 prescription labs globally and Luxottica has a few. Globally, do they own the majority? Not likely. In the United States, Essilor claims they have 98 labs in the USA. The total number of labs owned by indies and others are more than the 98 labs labs that Essilor owns in the USA.

  • 254 Independent labs
  • 48 Walman Labs
  • 42 Hoya Labs
  • 16 Carl Zeiss Labs
  • 15 VSP labs

Add in Top Retailers and their labs; Refac, Costco, Walmart, Henry Ford. Add in medical clinics labs such as Kaiser, Cigna, Spectra, Davis, Mayo Clinic. Then there is labs like Maui Jim with proprietary lenses. Now ask yourself if Lux-Ess owns 80% of the business?

Sticker Shock and Price Gouging 

The only way to respond to this is: Seriously? Why would you even say something like this? This is Sensationalism at it’s best. 1.) Pricing is what the market will bear, it’s called capitalism. 2.) Is there a difference in Ruth Chris’s steaks that Outback Steak House? Is there is difference in a Hermes purse v.s a Target? Is there a difference between a Mercedes than a Honda Civic? Is there a difference  between a Manolo Blahnik shoe and a Candies? Is there a difference in a LaPerla undergarment than a Olga? 3.) The consumer has a choice in what they want to wear, they do not have to pay $500 for a Chanel frame. It is called personal choice, nobody is forcing to buy it. They buy because they want it for whatever the reason. 4.) There are over 500 different eyewear companies that provide value priced frames. Again, the consumer has a choice.

Why I wrote this:

1.) I am very tired of Old and Fake news and sniping online and decided to investigate for myself, ergo this post. 

2.) There seems to be a malaise from Eyecare professionals about the state of the industry and competition. As far as I am concerned the hardest and most challenging issues in the optical industry is managed care and insurance companies.

3.) When you lay out this type of information, it has become apparent that there are many opportunities for eyecare professionals, they just have to open their eyes and take some risks. The growing market in buying local, accessories, readers, low vision, Nutraceuticals, luxury, fashion, sunglasses, lens types, medical, 3D, private label, kids, natural materials, give back companies, bespoke and customization, blue light, computer lenses, safety and smart glasses. All of the above are readily available to eyecare professionals.

4.) I still feel Amazon and it’s subsidiaries  are the biggest threat to eyecare professionals.


There are many parts to the optical industry: eyewear, sunwear, safety frames, safety lenses, optical lens, readers, low vision aids, labs, lab equipment, medical equipment, software, retailers, smart glasses, googles, sports performance, accessories, dispensing tools, parts, including hinges, screws and nosepads, contact lenses, pharmaceuticals and neutraceuticals, cleaners.

1.) To really know who controls the market, one must evaluate not only number of locations the product is sold through, they have to look at either units sold and dollars.

2.) Much of the knowledge above has been gleaned via Press Releases and websites, Bloomberg, trade shows and Trade Press.

3.) Many of the Asian companies information is difficult to translate via google translate.

4.) All store location information above is estimated and can and most likely will be changed on a daily basis.

5.) Luxottica and Essilor may be making private label eyewear and lenses for many companies.

6.) Luxottica and Essilor most likely have stock in private equity and public companies which may make them part owners.

7.) Some of the information may be outdated.





SILMO PARIS 20-23 September 2024