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.
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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