Guide to buying specs for less

Glasses - optician showing eyewear. Closeup of glasses, with glasses and frame in focus. Woman optometrist on white background.

For many Brits, spectacles are a necessary expense, and with regular eye tests, frames and lenses to fork out for, it's easy to spend hundreds of pounds to ensure your vision is at its best. However, there are ways to save money.

Save money on eye tests
If you have problems with your eyesight, it is essential that you get an eye test each year, as things can change quickly and your prescription may change from one year to the next. There are low-cost options out there if you know where to look though. Boots Opticians will test your eyes for as little as £10, Asda Opticians for £15, and Tesco Opticians offer free eye tests, so it's worth checking online to find your nearest outlet. You may also be entitled to a free test funded by the NHS, for example if you are under 16, over 60, or you are receiving some benefits, so it is worth checking the NHS website to see whether you are eligible. Those who spend much of their day in front of a computer screen should ask their employer whether they provide free eye tests too. Whatever you choose, always ask for a copy of your prescription, which will enable you to shop around for lenses and frames.

Cheap deals
High street retailers do their utmost to win business with a variety of deals, including two for one or buy one, get one half price. But it's important to do your research if you want to save money. For standard single vision lenses, you can pick up a prescription pair of specs from Tesco Opticians for as little as £15, although you may not get the latest designer fashions. Asda also offer reasonably priced glasses, with deals such as two single vision pairs for £99, £157 for two pairs of varifocals, and all designer glasses come with thinner lenses, anti-reflective and scratch resistant coating, and optional tints. Non-designer specs at Asda come with a two for £80 deal for single vision lenses. Specsavers also offer a two for one offer, which amounts to two single vision pairs from £69, or £99 for two designer pairs. Similar deals are available on varifocals and prescription sunglasses too.

Avoid the extras
Unless they form part of the 'deal', you can save money by avoiding all those tempting little extras on offer. For instance, unless you have very poor eyesight, opting for thinner frames could add as much as £50 to the cost and provide very little benefit. Many opticians will try to sell their own insurance with what seems like a low monthly price, and with the cost of replacing specs so high, it's tempting to sign on the dotted line. It's worth checking, however, whether it would be more cost-effective to buy a cheap spare in case something happens. Designer frames will always add to the cost too, but many of the big retailers now stock lovely frames that could save you a pretty penny. Don't forget to check out independent opticians, where you'll still get the service, quality and choice, but without the hard sell.

Buy online
If you have a copy of your prescription, an online retailer might prove the cheapest option. With qualified opticians but without the overheads bricks-and-mortar retailers have to cover, you'll often find you can pick up specs for half the price, so check the likes of Glasses Direct or SpeckyFourEyes to see if you could save money.

Replacement lenses
If you're happy with your current frames, consider simply getting the lenses replaced. If you have bought on the high street, it is worth checking whether you can get replacement lenses as an existing customer, but if not, online retailers such as ReglazeMyGlasses will do so for as little as £20, depending on your particular lenses. With their free information pack, you'll get a box with which to post your current specs (you can send up to two pairs per box) and your prescription, and once the company receives your items, they'll call to discuss your needs. Though standard delivery is free, if your lenses or frames are on the pricy side, it's worth choosing the more expensive options which include insurance.

Have you managed to cut the price of your glasses? What advice would you give to others looking to save money? Leave your comments below...
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