eye care tips

Need new glasses? Here’s how to avoid spending a fortune!

Our eyes are one of the most hard-working parts of our bodies, particularly with the increasing use of screen time in almost every aspect of our lives. But many of us take our eyes for granted, and don’t take as much care of them as we should.

The NHS recommends that everyone should have their eyes tested at least every 2 years – and more often if advised to do so by an eye specialist. A full eye test usually costs between £20-£30 but is free if you are under 16 or over 60, have certain health conditions such as diabetes or glaucoma – or a family history of them – or are on benefits such as Universal Credit, Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance.

But once you have had an eye test, you may need either to get your first pair of glasses, or glasses with a different prescription from the ones you are already wearing. And if you’re not careful, this can work out to be very expensive.

In this article we take a look at:

  • The typical cost of glasses in an opticians;
  • How to get financial help with eye care;
  • Alternative sources of new glasses.


Typical cost of glasses in an opticians

Prices of glasses in High Street opticians vary enormously. Whilst there may be some budget ranges from around £15, typical prices are in the range £50-£200. And these prices may be higher if you have complex lenses such as bifocals or varifocals.

On top of this you may be given the choice of adding extras to your lenses, for example, an anti-scratch or anti-reflective coating. 

The good news is that you may be eligible for some financial help with this, and also there are alternative sources for new glasses : you are not obliged to buy them from the optician that did your eye test. 


How to get financial help with eye care

Many people are eligible for financial help with eye care and do not realise this. There are also options for setting aside money for eye care so that it is not such a huge expense when the time comes.

Let’s take a look at a few ways of funding your eye care.


  • NHS vouchers

The NHS provides optical vouchers for eligible groups. These vouchers can be put towards the cost of new glasses. Vouchers are worth between £39.10- £196 for single vision glasses, and £67.50-£215.50 for bifocals or varifocals.

You are eligible for an NHS optical voucher if you are:

  • a child under age 16;
  • aged between 16-18 and in full-time education;
  • aged over 60;
  • a prisoner and on leave; 
  • are registered partially or slightly blind;
  • diagnosed with or at risk of glaucoma;
  • diabetic;
  • on certain benefits such as Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit. 


If you are eligible for an NHS voucher, ask your optician for a yellow form called a GOS3. This form will contain the optician’s name, the date of your eye test and your prescription details. It can then be used towards the cost of glasses at any opticians or retail eyewear store that accepts NHS vouchers.


  • Your employer

If you work with screens and need corrective lenses exclusively to do your job, your employer is obliged to pay for your glasses. This is a legal requirement under the DSE (Display Screen Equipment) regulations. You are entitled to ask your employer for a full eye exam and vision tests, and they must pay the full cost of this and for the provision of basic glasses if required.

If this applies to you, the usual way to go about it is to pay for the eye test and glasses up front and get your employer to reimburse you. But make sure that you speak to your HR department for specific information and advice.

You may also be able to get discounted eye tests and glasses if you are in certain professions, for example if you are the holder of a Blue Light discount card.


  • Health insurance

Another option for funding eye care is to set up a healthcare cash plan. These are insurance plans that enable you to reclaim the cost of different types of healthcare, including optical and dental. The idea is that you pay in regularly to the plan and then can use it to reimburse you for some or all of the cost of either routine or unforeseen appointments.

If you have private health insurance, either personally or through work, it is also worth checking whether any eye care costs are included as part of your insurance plan.


Alternative sources of new glasses

However you fund your new glasses, there are further ways to save money on the cost. 

When you have your eye test, the optician will provide you with a copy of your prescription. The prescription is made up of a combination of different letters and numbers which explain the type and strength of the lenses you need. In most cases a prescription remains valid for two years after your eye test; or one year if you are 70 or over. 

You can take this prescription to any other optician or retail store – either up front or online – to buy glasses. You are not obliged to buy glasses from the same place where you had your eye test done. 

Here are three ideas for where to look for cheaper glasses:


  • Online

There are many online retailers that sell discount glasses. They can offer cheaper prices because they do not have overheads such as building costs, equipment and staff salaries that need to be met by High Street opticians. 

If you are buying online it’s important to check the frame dimensions carefully, ideally by comparing them with an existing pair of glasses that fit well. You may find that the inside arm of your existing glasses contains a pair of two-digit numbers. These represent the width of the lens and the bridge, so can be invaluable in helping you to ensure a good fit. 

And always remember that, even if you buy glasses online, you can then take them to a High Street optician for final fitting and adjustment.


  • Reglazing

Another option to save money on new glasses is to reuse your existing frames. If they are in good condition you can usually have new lenses fitted to them. This process is known as reglazing. 

So if you have a favourite pair of frames but your prescription has changed, it is an option worth considering. You will keep your well-loved frames, save money on new ones, and it’s also an environmentally-friendly option.


  • Special offers

Another good way to save money on new glasses is to look out for special deals at High Street opticians. Some have regular or occasional Buy One Get One Free offers, and/or give you a voucher to buy more glasses at half price any time within the next 6 months. And, like any other store, there will be occasional sales and special offers.

So take your time to look around, and you may find a great deal right on your doorstep.


We hope that this article has given you some useful information on how to avoid spending a fortune if you need new glasses in 2024.

Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from direct lender Munzee Loans.