Best Reading Glasses Not Made in China

Best Reading Glasses Not Made in China

A few years ago my sister, who like me is experiencing the joys of growing older and developing presbyopia, was lamenting once how she couldn’t find any reading glasses that weren’t made in China. I took it upon myself to look and sadly, I couldn’t find a single pair either.

I face the same dilemma when I go to my local optical shop for my regular prescription glasses. Most people don’t question where frames are made, which lets frame manufacturers get away with murder. Over the years, they built a reputation of high quality because they made their products in the USA or Europe. But once they were able to outsource to China, they KEPT their prices inflated, while driving their costs down by using a labor force that didn’t have to bother with pesky things like fair labor practices and environmental regulation.

When I go to the optical store for my prescription glasses, I’m not shy about asking the optician to show me only pairs that aren’t made in China, and you shouldn’t be either. There are still models you can find made in countries like Italy, South Korea, and Japan. But as long as people don’t bother to check (or are too embarrassed to ask), companies looking to boost profit margins will invariably send their products to China, knowing that the bulk of customers won’t notice.

Fast forward to 2024. I decided to take another look at reading glasses, and lo and behold I see a few choices.

Sadly, the most popular brands like Foster Grant have gone all-in on China. Up-and-coming brands like ThinOptics and Look Optic often start out by manufacturing in the USA or Taiwan, but invariably they end up going to China. And of course, forget about those cheap $5 drugstore glasses; as with all other industries, China has cornered the mass market for cheap products, knowing that American consumers will invariably look for the cheapest price and never realize until too late that they got what they paid for.

 

Best Reading Glasses Not Made in China

1. IZIPIZI Reading Glasses

IZIPIZI (which I believe is pronounced the same as “easy peasy”) is a brand that originated in France. Here’s what they say on their Web site:

The majority of our glasses are manufactured by a family-owned business in Taiwan, an island renowned for its expertise in spectacle manufacturing. We have been working hand-in-hand together since 2012, because when we like something, we stick with it! Why this particular company? Simply because we have built up a relationship of trust and have the same strict requirements when it comes to quality. A passionate specialist for 40 years, they know what they are doing and we like it!

You can purchase them at several different degrees of magnification. Their Tortoise Screen Reading Glasses (pictured) seem to be the most popular; I’ve seen them for sale not just at retail stores, but at places like the the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Operate, and the New York Public Library gift shops. They are as beautiful and stylish as they are useful.

You can buy from Barnes and Noble, Bloomingdales, or directly from their American distributor. You’re going to want to avoid Amazon, where I can find nothing but China manufacturers that have stolen IZIPIZI’s designs and are passing them off as their own (and worse, Amazon is showing them to people who search their brand name AND Google is ranking the Amazon page for their brand name—this is what small brands are up against).

2. Shuron Designer Reading Glasses

If you can know anyone who lived in the 1950s and 1960s, chances are you’ll remember browline glasses; I remember my dad wore these all his life. So too did iconic historical figures like Vince Lombardi, Lyndon Johnson, Malcolm X, Colonel Sanders, and even NASA scientist you see on old news footage.

What I didn’t realize is that these were invented by Shuron, a company that’s been making glasses in the USA since 1865. They’re available at optical stores or from online retailers like FramesDirect or Eyeglasses.com (where you can choose the frames and add either prescription or reading lenses). Again, this is a brand where you’ll want to avoid Amazon.

3. Miasto Reading Glasses

If you need something not so quite in the stratosphere of pricing, there’s an eBay seller called Sunshine Stories NY with over 20,000 positive reviews who sells a brand called Miasto. It comes in a huge variety of styles, and many of the listings say clearly that they’re made in Taiwan.

Don’t let the fact that this brand isn’t on Amazon deter you; Amazon asks its sellers to pay it extortion-level commissions, so this is likely a case where a Taiwanese manufacturer decided to simply avoid big retailers and Amazon. The eBay reviews are great for both the seller and the product, and it’s definitely affordable.

4. Nannini Reading Glasses

Nannini reading glasses are made in Italy, which once used to be one of the centers of manufacturing for eyeglasses. While there are a lot fewer glasses made there due to everything being sent to China, you may be lucky enough to find frames still made there.

Their reading glasses come in a variety of styles, and thanks to Amazon’s “Made in Italy” store, you can be confident that these are indeed made in Italy, something they reiterate in their product listings.

4. Readlux Reading Glasses

Readlux is another brand that’s bucking the trend. It’s been around since 1973, is still made in Taiwan, but and is still priced under $20.

Of course they’re almost impossible to find on Amazon, as Amazon loves to flood their marketplace with the cheapest price, cheapest quality products. Their lenses use the latest technology, including blue light blocking, UV protection, and anti-reflection coating.

Reviewers love that they’re stylish, cute, and much more long-lasting and high quality than drugstore glasses. Multiple reviewers have said that the blue light blocking technology has helped their headaches go away.

4. Edge-I-Wear Cat Eye Readers

Edge-I-Wear is a brand that was founded in Southern California in 2000. They produce stylish, high quality eyewear out of Taiwan. Unlike knockoffs made in China, readers love the solid construction of these, as well as the classic designs.

Don’t be thrown off by the seemingly smaller number of reviews of these vs. China brands with thousands of positive reviews. As we’ve discussed elsewhere on this blog, fake China brands are notorious for using all kinds of tricks to manipulate Amazon into ranking them, from fake reviews to faking sales data. Hint: take a look at the 1-star reviews of these China brands and you’ll start to get a more accurate feel for what customers really experience.

5. Abyss22 Bifocals

Abyss22 is a Taiwan-based manufacturer who’s selling directly to consumers on Amazon. Again, don’t be fooled by the low number of reviews; this is less a reflection of Abyss22’s quality and more a reflection, again, of how difficult it is for “the little guy” to compete against companies that spend more effort and money to manipulate Amazon search results than on making a great product.

At under $20, this is a steal, especially considering that the manufacturing and materials likely cost a lot more than similar pairs of glasses you’ll find on Amazon manufactured in China that are selling for the same price. It comes in three colors (red, brown, and grey) and multiple magnification strengths.

6. Sightline Multifocus Reading Glasses

These glasses, made in Vietnam, are made by Sightline, based in Lake Forest, Illinois. Sightline was actually the first manufacturer to introduce progressives to the United States, far ahead of Foster Grant. They have a patented lens manufacturing process, and their years of experience have enabled them to produce unique progressive lenses that are on a completely different level than regular reading glasses, at not too much of a premium price-wise. Their customer service and support are based in the USA

Multi-focal, or progressive glasses have different levels of magnification within a single lens; it goes beyond normal bifocals, allowing for distance viewing, computer use, and reading. If this sounds confusing to you, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your brain adapts to using all three.

Caveat emptor: I’m basing my assumption that this pair of Sightline glasses is made in Vietnam based on two Amazon reviews from 2022, but my further research shows that Sightline makes many models out of China. Of course they don’t say anything about country of origin on their Amazon product page or their Web site. You’ll want to give them a call to verify where they’re making them today.

6. MCR Safety Glasses

These aren’t your typical reading glasses, but they’re great for use in an setting where you need to protect your eyes. Some reviewers use it for all kinds of purposes, such as biking, yard work, woodwork, working in a lab, and of course industrial use.

At under $5 they’re an incredible bargain, especially considering that they’re made in Taiwan. The wraparound design doesn’t obstruct your vision, and its tight fit gives you safety. It’s much more affordable as it’s made with polycarbonate vs. glass, making it lightweight while still being scratch resistant. It comes with one of four magnification levels.

Conclusion

I remember a few years ago feeling utterly hopeless because there weren’t any options for reading glasses not made in China. Thrilled to see that there are options now.

Do you know of other reading glasses not made in China? Please share it in the comments!

2 Comments

  1. There’s a German company named Rodenstock, producing in Czechoslovakia
    https://www.rodenstock.com

    Zeiss Vision Care seems to only offer glasses but no frames (and keep in mind the name Zeiss will can make it a bit expensive) It’s availaible via optician shops in Germany, but I don’t know how the situation is abroad.

    If you want stylish handmade frames (warning, expensive!) I found this site:
    (you can click on other countries of manufacture mentioned in the upper paragraph)

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