Here’s the Real (No Good) Reason Glasses Are So Expensive

iStock.com/GoodLifeStudio
iStock.com/GoodLifeStudio

Anyone with impaired vision knows that eyewear doesn’t come cheap. While prices vary depending on the brand, design, and style of frames you select, a pair of prescription glasses can easily set you back several hundred dollars.

And as the Los Angeles Times explains, we’ve all been getting ripped off. The average cost of frames is $231, according to VSP Vision Care, but the actual cost of the materials is fractional. Acetate frames are made of plastic and metal, and those components can cost as little as $10, according to some estimates. That means consumers often end up paying 10 to 20 times what the frames and lenses are actually worth. So what gives?

This markup can be attributed to the monopoly held by a single company called Luxottica. The Italian company owns and holds licenses with some of the most recognizable name brand, including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Michael Kors, DKNY, Coach, Burberry, Versace, and Chanel. It also operates more than 7400 optical stores around the world, including LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut, Target Optical, and EyeMed Vision Care. A lack of competition—which might drive prices down—means Luxottica can keep eyeglasses pricey.

Luxottica gained even greater access to the global market when it merged with France’s Essilor eyewear company last fall. At the time of the merger, Essilor CEO Hubert Sagnières framed the creation of the new entity—EssilorLuxottica—as a positive for customers. “The creation of EssilorLuxottica is a defining moment in our fight to elevate the importance of good vision as both a basic human right and a key lever for global development,” Sagnières said, according to the Australian ophthalmic magazine Insight.

Some groups, like Consumer Watchdog, think the true cost of eyewear should be part of the national health care discussion, right alongside the high cost of many prescription drugs. However, many companies keep that information closely guarded, as the Los Angeles Times found out, and there's little chance that those figures will be made publicly known anytime soon.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

“They Will Catch on Fire”: Michigan Library Asks Patrons Not to Microwave Their Books

Burning books may kill coronavirus germs, but at what cost?
Burning books may kill coronavirus germs, but at what cost?
Movidagrafica Barcelona, Pexels

Last month, the Plainfield Township branch of the Kent District Library (KDL) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, took to Facebook to share a cautionary tale about burning books.

It wasn’t a summary of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, nor did it have anything to do with a metaphorical protection of free speech. Instead, the post showed a scorched edition of Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber, which had apparently been microwaved in an ill-conceived attempt to burn off any coronavirus germs.

As the post explained, each book is outfitted with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag—a more efficient alternative to barcodes, which must be scanned individually and at close range. But since RIFDs contain metal, “they will catch on fire in the microwave.”

“I don't know if it was something that they saw on the news—that they thought maybe the heat would kill COVID-19,” the library’s regional manager Elizabeth Guarino-Kozlowicz told the Detroit Free Press.

Exposure to high heat could indeed kill the virus. According to the World Health Organization, temperatures of 132.8°F or above can eliminate the SARS coronavirus, which behaves similarly to this newer strain (SARS-CoV-2). That said, we still don’t know exactly how heat affects SARS-CoV-2, and nuking a novel is a horrible idea no matter what.

Food & Wine reports that KDL workers are quarantining all returned library books for 72 hours to make sure all coronavirus germs have died before checking them back into the collection. As for the fate of the charred volume, KDL told Mental Floss that the borrower has been billed for it. After they pay the fine, they’ll get to take it home for good.

If you’re worried about borrowing contaminated books from your own library, you can always call first to find out what safety guidelines they’re following. Or, you could stick to e-books for a while—here are five free ways to get them.

[h/t Food & Wine]