Having problems with your eyesight can be frustrating. Especially when to have to pay for regular eye tests, glasses and contact lenses. When there are so many different opticians on the high street it can become overwhelming.
But don’t panic. We’ve rounded up the best websites offering deals for the same frames you’d get on the high street. All you need to know is your optical prescription.
Read on to find out how.
- Get your eyes tested for less
- Try on lots of frames for free
- Find and order glasses online
- Returning them
- Get more help with the cost
- Consider contact lenses
First of all, find out if you’re entitled to free eye tests. The NHS website lists those who are eligible, so check to find out.
Otherwise, eye tests can be quite pricey, on average they are between £20 and £30. Current deals include:
- Tesco instore opticians offer sight tests absolutely free.
- Vision Express are also now offering free eye tests to attract customers.
To buy any glasses online you’ll need to have an up-to-date prescription (not more than two years old). You must make sure that the prescription includes:
- Sphere – The strength of the lens (plus for long-sightedness, minus for short-sightedness).
- Pupillary distance – This is the horizontal distance between your pupils measured in millimetres. You can have a go at measuring this yourself if you like. But it’s important that you look through the centre of your lenses to be accurate.
- Cylinder – This is your astigmatism correction. Not everyone has astigmatism (when the eye is slightly rugby ball-shaped), so leave this blank if you don’t.
- Axis – This corrects an astigmatism. Again, if you don’t have an astigmatism, you don’t need this measurement.
Whilst you’re getting your eye test, you might as well profit from free advice on frames. The optician will tell you which frames would suit your face shape. They will then will help you pick out ones they recommend. Try on as many as you need to get a good idea of the shape (rectangular/circular). Also pick the style (i.e metal/plastic/rimless) that suit you the most too. You may love how you look in a certain style of frame!
This will help make a more informed choice. Sometimes, even though we want them to, frames we like just don’t like us. So it’s good to have an idea before buying. Alternatively, if you want a pair of designer frames, note down the model name and number of any that take your fancy. Then at the opticians and then you can search for them online to get them much cheaper.
There are loads of websites to get cheap glasses from. Here are a few of the best for glasses online:
- Go to Glasses Direct, who have a good range of designer and non-designer frames. They often have regular offers such as two for one on frames.
- Goggles4u is not for you if you’re after designer specs, but it really does have some brilliant styles. You can order your first pair for £9! So if you’re not fussy about brands, you could get a great deal.
- Spex4less has a good range of designer and other glasses. The great thing about them is that they offer an unbeatable guarantee to refund or exchange your glasses. Even if you don’t like them for any reason. All their glasses have a 12-month warranty for defects and breakages which also covers the lenses.
- Selectspecs is great as it gives you thin and light lenses, anti-reflection, UV 400 and scratch resistance all for free. That means that you can get a very swish pair of designer glasses for under £55 and a pair of budget but good-quality glasses from £6.
- There are others to check out, including SmartBuyGlasses, PerfectSpecs, Glasses2you, Designer Glasses and SpecsOnTheNet. Remember to shop around and check out all prices for extra coatings, glasses cases and shipping.
Are there any lenses that you shouldn’t get online?
The only lenses that are really complicated to fit are varifocals. Because of this, some websites do not even offer them, probably because there’s a potential for lots of returns.
If you do have to get varifocals, a way to save money would be to buy the frames you want online. Then, get the lenses fitted at the opticians. Although these kinds of lenses can be expensive, at least you don’t run the risk of paying for a pair of glasses that you can’t return or use.
The best deal for designer glasses
Although there are great deals to be had online, some of the high-end designer glasses are in excess of £150 even when discounted. If you’re going to spend this much, it would be worthwhile to first check whether you can get the pair you want as part of one of the high street 2-for-1 deals.
Specsavers currently has a 2-for-1 deal on several designer brands so take a look. This means you can get two pairs of the same designer glasses, and your second pair has the same lenses as the first. Even if you have picked the most expensive lenses and added all the extras. This means that you could effectively get the pair of designer glasses you want, and then another one on top for the same price you’d pay online.
Getting your glasses fitted is one of the greatest advantages to buying them on the high street. They can also be adjusted once they’re assembled. However, you should do a quick search on the internet and see whether buying them online or in store is cheaper.
You’ve got to be careful when ordering glasses online because if you make any mistakes with your prescription you often won’t be able to get a refund. If you have any questions about your prescription it’s best to contact the site you want to buy from directly. They should be able to help you.
Check the refund policy of the site before you buy the glasses, some will be happy to give you a refund as long as you return the glasses within the designated time. Whereas others will only refund you if they have made a mistake.
Spex4less are great if you’re worried about whether you might need to return your glasses. They offer an incredible guarantee allowing you to return or exchange your glasses. Even if you just decide you don’t like the colour, or if you simply change your mind.
To ensure a good fit, check the frame dimensions online, or try to get the same dimensions as an old pair of glasses that fitted really well. On the inside arm of your current glasses you should be able to find a pair of two digit numbers. The first number represents the width of the lens, and the second the width of the bridge, use these as a guideline.
If you want a really good fit, you can always get your glasses online, then take them to a high-street optician for the final fitting.
On the NHS
NHS vouchers also help some people get money off their glasses. If you’re under 19 and in full-time education or over 60, then you’ll be eligible for vouchers. Other ways to get vouchers are:
- You or your partner are on benefits
- If you have an HC2/HC3 low income certificate
- You’re entitled to (or named) on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
- If you have complex lenses.
A lot of the websites are now accepting these vouchers, so you’ll still be able to get online bargains using them.
With a health cash plan
If your family suffers from poor eyesight or you really want a hot-shot pair of designer specs, but you just don’t have the money, then consider a health cash plan. This will give you an annual contribution towards your optical costs.
This won’t cover the whole cost of a pair of designer glasses, but it’ll contribute a significant amount towards it. And you also get dental care and contributions towards other preventative health care costs.
See our full article on health cash plans.
If you’re one of the many people who want to avoid wearing glasses and instead put up with poor vision, contact lenses could be for you. After a little initial discomfort when first starting to use them, you’ll forget they’re even there and inserting and taking them out will become second nature.
If you wear monthly or daily contact lenses, and you’re buying them from an optician on the high street, it’s likely you’re paying far more than you need to. There are ways to buy cheap contact lenses online.
VisionDirect sells all the leading contact lenses including Focus Dailies, 1-Day Acuvue Moist, coloured contact lenses (and lots more) for a fraction of the high-street price. Meaning you can make enormous savings of over the course of a year.
Members of Boots Opticians receive 10% off Boots-branded products across their health and beauty range. You’ll get free delivery every three months on most lens types, plus inclusive eye tests. Even contact lens wearers need specs sometimes and with the Reward Scheme you’ll also get a discounts on glasses.
AC Lens promise that you can also save on their wide range of lenses, and they also offer glasses and accessories. Finally, Lenstore sells the big-brand contact lenses and also has an option for next-day delivery if you need them in a hurry. Customers of Lenstore also benefit from the support and advice of their in-house optician.