10 tips to save you money on eye tests, glasses & contact lenses.
Cut the cost of eye tests, glasses and contact lenses.
Over the years I have discovered lots of ways to save money on my glasses and contact lenses. ‘Sharing is caring’, so I am going to share them with you!
Follow these top ten tips to slash the cost of your eyecare and your eyewear:
1. Get a FREE eye test.
Having regular eye tests is important, even if you don’t need glasses. As well as checking your prescription, the optician can also spot health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and even brain tumours.
Standard eye tests can cost anything between £15-£30. However, there are several ways you can get your eyes tested and it won’t cost you a penny.
- If you are under 16, 19 or under and in full-time education, over 60, on certain benefits or have certain medical conditions you are entitled to a FREE eye test on the NHS, (see the NHS website for details).
- If you live in Scotland you are entitled to a FREE eye test on the NHS.
- If you work in a job where you use a computer, you can ask your employer to pay for your eye test in order for them to comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. They are also required to pay for your glasses if you only need them for your job.
- If none of the above apply you can still get a FREE eye test at Tesco Opticians (206 stores nationwide) as part of an ongoing deal. To find your nearest Tesco Opticians and book your FREE sight test, simply call (0345) 6013479 or book an appointment online. Please note, this does not include initial contact lens appointments, which incur a charge of £15.
2. Always ask for a copy of your prescription so you can shop around.
By law, you are entitled to a copy of your prescription after an eye test and you are not obliged to buy your glasses or contact lenses from the opticians where you had the test. Instead of being persuaded to check out their in-store deals, it’s a good idea compare deals with other opticians before buying, including online retailers.
Prescriptions are usually valid for 2 years, or one year if you are over 70, (unless a shorter period has been stated for clinical reasons).
Make sure the optician measures and records your Pupillary Distance (PD), too. This is the distance between your eyes, measured between the centre of your pupils. You will need this figure if you want to purchase your glasses from an online retailer. Don’t worry if you haven’t got your PD. Glasses websites can make them up using the average pupillary distance of the population or they can take a measurement from your old glasses.
3. Buy your glasses online.
At one time, shopping for your glasses online could save 80% compared with high street opticians. However, in recent years, high street opticians have slashed the cost of their glasses in order to compete with online retailers. Despite this, it’s still cheaper to buy your glasses online.
How can online retailers offer such competitive prices?
Internet retailers have cheaper overhead costs because they don’t have to pay for expensive sight test equipment or shop floor staff. Also, because they buy direct from the manufacturers they can often secure special discounts and rates.
Is it safe to buy my glasses online?
Online retailers employ qualified opticians and many offer no quibble returns if you aren’t completely satisfied. Some companies, like GlassesDirect, even offer a free 7 day home trial.
How much can I save by buying online?
You can get a complete pair of glasses for less than £15 from several of the online stores. For example, prices for complete glasses at SelectSpecs start from only £6 plus delivery (£5.95 for standard delivery in the UK).
On the high street, prices for glasses start from £25 at Specsavers and £39 at Vision Express.
As you can see, even after the delivery costs have been taken into account, you can still save a whopping 52% by shopping online.
Can I buy varifocals and bifocals online?
Yes. However, if you need bifocals or varifocals it’s probably best to get your first pair from a high street optician so that the frames and all of the additional measurements (including measuring the eye line for the lenses) are spot-on. Once you have your varifocals, you can always send them to an online optician so they can take your measurements when you want a new pair or a spare pair.
Is it easy to order my glasses from an online retailer?
Ordering your glasses online is a simple and straightforward process, all you need is a valid prescription. Most internet retailers use a step-by-step ordering process that guides you through each of the steps. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what all of the numbers on the prescription mean because this will be explained when you fill out the online form. Most companies have a customer helpline if you have any additional questions about placing your order.
4. Reglaze and save.
Even if your prescription has changed, you don’t have to buy a complete pair of glasses. You can save money by keep your existing frames and using a reglazing service.
Alternatively, you may have purchased low-cost frames from websites such as eBay or Amazon and need a reglazing service.
As well as selling glasses, GlassesDirect and SelectSpecs can fit new lenses into your own frames. There are also a number of companies specialising in reglazing, such as Ciliary Blue and Reglazemyglasses.
As part of their service, Reglazemyglasses offer:
- Replacement prescription lenses fitted into your own frame from £19
- FREE post in both directions
- 30 day 100% no quibble money back guarantee
- 12 month defect warranty
- All glazing in-house and in the UK
- Human one-to-one advice and order processing.
5. Buy designer frames for less.
As with most branded products, you can save money on designer frames by shopping around. There’s nothing to stop you trying on glasses in your local opticians to find suitable designer frames. Simply make a note of the make and model numbers and compare prices online.
For example, I have a pair of Pepe Jeans frames that would have cost me £105 at my local opticians but they were only £30 online. Once I had purchased my frames, I sent my glasses off to a reglazing for £25 and they were returned within the week. The cost of similar lenses at the local opticians was £60.
Spex4less and GlassesDirect are just two of the online retailers offering competitive prices on designer glasses.
6. Don’t pay for expensive ‘hidden’ extras or lens upgrades unless you need them.
There are lots of special offers around at the moment: buy one pair of glasses, get another pair free; buy one pair, get another half price. This is all well and good, as long as you avoid paying for ‘hidden’ extras you don’t need.
There are a wide range of lenses available: basic lenses; bifocals; varifocals; plastic lenses; glass lenses; polarised; anti-glare; scratch resistant. All of these additional features add to the cost of your glasses, so make sure you only pay for what you need. For example, if you have a weak prescription and only wear your glasses occasionally for watching TV, you probably don’t need thin, anti-scratch, anti-glare lenses.
7. Think twice before buying glasses insurance from your optician.
Opticians often try to sell their own insurance but it is worth checking the terms of your home contents policy to avoid doubling up or paying over the odds. Home insurers often allow you to add personal possessions away from the home, including glasses, from about £20 a year (providing the policy excess isn’t higher than the cost of replacing them), which is often less than half the price an optician would charge for an insurance policy.
Alternatively, with glasses costing as little as £10 a pair, you may decide not to insure them at all.
8. Shop around for your contact lenses and consider switching to daysoft® lenses.
As with glasses, you can save money by buying your contact lenses online. As long as you have a valid contact lens prescription, (which your optician is legally obliged to give you after your contact lens eye test), you can shop around and find a better deal.
In some cases, you can save hundreds of pounds a year. For example, switching to daysoft® daily disposable lenses, which cost £5.99 per box of 32 lenses (plus 50p postage), could save you hundreds of pounds per year. See my earlier post for details: Cut the cost of your contact lenses by up to £200 per year with daysoft®.
9. Save even more money online by using cashback websites.
Before you buy your glasses or contact lenses online it is worth checking to see whether the retailer is listed on a cashback website like Quidco or Topcashback. These sites give 100% of the commission they earn from your purchase back to you. Currently you can earn 6% cashback on all sales with GlassesDirect via Quidco.
10. Always check for current deals.
Finally, before you have an eye test or buy your next pair of glasses or contact lenses, check MoneySavingExpert’s dedicated Cheap Glasses Discount webpage. It provides up-to-date details of current deals and discount vouchers.
Although these 10 tips will help you to save money on your eye tests and eyecare, there are a few things worth baring in mind:
- Check current deals with your local optician as well as online retailers as they often have very competitive promotions, including free eye tests and money off vouchers.
- If you choose an online glasses or contact lens retailer, check to see what customers are saying about them by visiting independent review sites or researching the company on Google.
- Although cost is an important factor, especially when you are on a budget, so is quality. Make sure you do your research to be sure you are happy with the product and service being offered. Choose companies with a good customer service record and those with a no-quibble free returns policy.
Over to you!
Are you getting the best deals on your glasses and contact lenses? Have you got any tips for saving money on eyecare and eyewear? As always, I would love to hear from you!
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Thanks so much for reading!
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Great post, I recently switched to daysoft lenses and it’s saving me £££’s.I’m definitely going to buy my glasses online next too.Popping over from #justanotherlinky
Hi Helen, I love my daysoft contacts! I can wear them for hours and they are so comfy I have to remember to take them out at night! Thanks for stopping by!
Some great info here. I’ve hesitated to shop online for glasses as I like to try them first, but if companies offer a home trial, that’s really useful. I also aim to start buying contact lenses online, so this link is really helpful too. I’ve followed you on Twitter since finding you on #ForTheLoveOfBLOG
Thanks for stopping by and I am really glad the tips are useful. Thanks for the follow as well. I’ve followed you back and added you to my list of blogs to explore!
My glasses always cost me a fortune – I’ll definitely look online next time! #KCACOLS
Hi Sarah! Thanks for popping across. Yep, it is definitely worth shopping around.
I don’t need glasses (yet!), but found this post really in depth and useful! x #KCACOLS
Wow there are some really fab tips here and so thorough as well. People would be mad not to heed your advice, some definite savings to be mad! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.
Some very useful tips here. I know my husband saved lots by getting his lenses on line. I’ve just got my first pair of varifocals and am still getting used to them. Not 100% sure they work to be honest but need to keep wearing them to get used to them and I don’t which I’m sure doesn’t help!
#KCACOLS should have put my glasses on!
I’m always forgetting to do the #KCACOLS thing!
Fab post – I always spend a small fortune on my glasses and take the hidden extras that I am sure I don’t need! Great idea to take the prescription away with you so you can shop around, I’ll be digging mine out to get a better deal next time #KCACOLS
Glad it was useful! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Some helpful tips in here! I have terrible eyesight (-6) so I wear contact lens everyday and glasses in the evening. I can’t wear dailies as my eyes are too dry so I have some monthly Lens from specsavers which let more oxygen into the eye and an be worn for longer periods of time. I also have a stigmatism so one side is a more expensive lens! I think I pay £15.50 a month and as part of the direct debit scheme I get free eye tests so I don’t have to pay for those.
You are making me wish I lived on that side of the ocean. Here eye tests are not free after age 10. And I have spend $600 + CAN for one set of glasses, not including the frames. Fun times. I will ask for the prescription as you mentioned and check on line. #KCACOLS
I’ve been meaning to try online glasses buying for absolutely ages but I think the physical browse and try on has put me off. You thrifty tips are fantastic and may have given me the nudge I need to at least try! #kcacols
Excellent advice – had no idea companies offered a home trial – thats what has always put me off about buying glasses on line – but such a good tip! Also useful to know that you can get the prescription and go elsewhere to get lenses #KCACOL
Really useful post here, thank you for sharing this. I wear glasses and contact lenses, mostly contact lenses as they are so much easier with a little one who constantly wants to take my glasses off. I shop online for my contact lenses from Vision Direct, but I might take a look at the Day Soft lenses to see how they compare. I never really realised that you could shop around for glasses, I’ve always just bought a new pair if I need to after an eye-test. Next time I’ll shop around, and ask to be given the prescription. Thank you so much for joining our party at #fortheloveofBLOG, hope you can join us again next week. Claire x
Thanks for hosting #fortheloveofBLOG and for your lovely comments. It is certainly worth shopping around. Daysoft lenses offer a money-back promise as long as you haven’t used more than 7 pairs. If you use monthlies rather than dailies (Daysoft are dailies) it is worth considering a switch as there is evidence that they are worth switching to. There is tonnes of information on the Daysoft site.
These are really fantastic tips! I never even knew that if you worked with computers that your employer could pay. And I also never knew about the re-glaze service. This is something I will be having a look at #KCACOLS
I’m really glad you found this useful. Thanks so much for your comments.
This is a fab post really informative. I have to be embarassed and admit..I thought you had to buy glasses from who you got a prescription from. Totally giving the online sites a try, never heard as glasses direct. I think I must be living in the stone age #KCACOLS
Thanks very much for your lovely comment, Jade. I don’t think you are alone! At least armed with this information you can make some informed decisions and shop around.
Some great tips here! I have a really small head so I find it really difficult to find glasses to fit me. Next time I may look into having my existing pair re-glazed instead.
Good tips – it can get so expensive! Never considered getting glasses online – must look into it for my next pair! #KCACOLS
Some really great tips! I’m definitely going to read this again before my next eye test. My last glasses cost nearly £300 after the extras!
Great. I’m glad you found it useful 🙂
Great advice, I wear contacts & glasses so it can be rather expensive and I need to start shopping around. Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx
I’ve bought glasses online before but not for a few years – I think you’ve just inspired me to do so again. My last pair from the opticians were SO pricey! I wear glasses and contacts so this post is a fab read for me. Thank you for sharing #KCACOLS
Great post. I actually implement a lot of these things, especially buying frames online! It costs much less if you are aware of offers and coupons.
Wish I’d read this last week! Great advice. Will be braver and shop online next time! #fortheloveofblog
Yes, it’s definitely worth doing, Kate.
Great tips, it is amazing how much you can save by shopping around. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x
Thanks for hosting, Aby!
Finding that balance between cost and quality can be difficult but you have some good tips for doing it the right way. Thanks so much for sharing!