The drives and the entire machines are made to hit price points and the drives are 50 or less dollar items that have limited life spans. Usually they last long enough.
But did you try a lens cleaner?
And why not replace the drive?
My optical drive won't play anything except perfectly clean DVDs. It rejects a lot of DVDs that work in other players. I know a lot of people with different brands of laptop who have the same problems or worse.
When I buy my next laptop, I would like to get one with an optical drive that lasts a few years. I take good care of my computer, so I don't need a toughbook, but I do need something that can withstand me carrying it to work and school most days.
Are any computers known for having long-lasting DVD drives?