How to cut the cost of eyecare
Whether you wear glasses, contact lenses or just need to book a sight test, don't assume your only option is to pay top whack. There are plenty of ways to reduce the cost of eye care without compromising on the level of service you receive.
Almost half of us wear glasses at some time or other and three million of us wear contact lenses. The cost of perfect vision can be expensive but here’s how to keep the cost down.
A standard eye test costs £20 to £30 but children under 16, students in full–time education until they are 19 and over-60s get free eye tests and may be entitled to money–off vouchers too. Over–50s and people on low incomes or other benefits might also be entitled to certain benefits.
The value of vouchers you receive will depend on your prescription. For example, for glasses with single vision lenses on a weak prescription you’d receive a voucher for £26.20 but you could get up to £200 for special bi–focals on a strong prescription.
Staring into a computer screen for more than an hour at a time can also grant you a free sight test under the Health and Safety Regulations Act 1992. Your employer is required to pay for a sight test plus any further tests that are needed but it’s your responsibility to request this.
There are now plenty of discount websites that allow you to buy glasses online for a fraction of the price. These companies don’t have to pay for expensive testing equipment or high street stores and pass on these savings to their customers.
In general, you will need a prescription that isn’t more than two years old or one year if you’re over 70. If possible ask for your pupillary distance measurement; it measures the distance between your eyes and will give a better fit. Your optician isn’t obliged to do this so you may have to pay a small fee. They also might kick up a fuss about handing over your prescription but remind them this is your legal right.
If your frames don’t feel quite right, you should be able to get them adjusted for a small cost from a local optician. Alternatively, glasses direct let you select up to four pairs of frames, which the company will post next day delivery free of charge. You can then try them on at your leisure and return all or the pairs you don’t like for free.
Again, because the overheads are low, contact lenses through websites like getlenses and postoptics are much cheaper than at the optician. The websites will even do the dirty work for you and contact your opticians for your contact lenses prescription. Remember this is different to your spectacles prescription.
When your prescription changes replace the lenses instead of the frames. Glasses Direct and Boots offer this service for £25.
Look out for special offers from high street names like Vision Express and Specsavers: they often run 2-4-1 promotions.
And finally decide if you really need extras like anti–reflection, anti–scratch or lenses that darken in sunlight.