Eye-glasses on the cheap

Eyeglasses on the cheap

April 18, 2012

My glasses always have a hard life. I fall asleep in them and roll over, I drop them on the floor, I don't clean them properly and they get scratched and, like most people, I don't get my eyes tested frequently enough. The final straw for my old pair was when I was working on the car. I actually thought about my glasses this time and took them off and put them in a safe place. Of course I then rolled over and broke one of the stems off!! Now, scratched, patched and out of focus is one thing but lop sided is a whole new ballgame so I was forced into getting a new pair.

My first thought was to get them from UK as I 'know' from the scuttelbut that glasses are really expensive in France so I called the branch of Specsavers where I got the last pair. They were very helpful and confirmed that I was on their books and that they had the precription for my wife, Diane, ...but not mine! Right, so I called around a few Opthalmologists discounting the ones who couldn't see me this year and found one in Bagnere de Bigorre who could but only just. I threw myself on the mercy of the receptionist explaining the sorry state of my glasses and that it was urgent as I needed them for work. She melted and gave me an appointment four days later. Result! The problem is that France has a population of nearly 70 million but only 5400 Opthalmologists so they are not exactly thick on the ground especially in rural areas. When I arrived for the appointment it is easy to see why there are loads of opticians and very few Opthalmoligists as they clearly don't get paid much judging by the premises. That said he was very good and very helpful. He must have first trained as a doctor, though as his writing was awful, even the receptionist couldn't read it.

No worries. Armed with my shiny new prescription I headed for the scanner and emailed the result to Specsavers. Problem, they emailed me back saying they wanted it in a British format, I tried explaining that that would take until shortly before hell froze over, but they wouldn't budge.

I reluctantly went to an optician in Lannemezan to discover that one pair of signle vision lenses with an ok frame was going to set me back 285 euros. Ouch!! Fortunately I was speaking to a customer at Boulogne and he said that his friend, over from australia, had broken his glasses and that the optician near McDonalds at Lannemezan had done them very quickly and they were not expensive. So, off to Lanny. There I met a really nice guy called Thomas who not only was very helpful but also spoke brilliant english. They advised and fitted and made the glasses in five days and including a pair of prescription sunglasses it was less than 180 euros and after the payment from the medical cover I paid just 109 euros - less than I would have paid in UK.

So another myth, that of exhorbitantly expensive glasses in France has been exploded, just get down to any of the General D'Optique stores around france and ask about 'The One' deal.

Hi Anne Marie, I do in fact have mutuel but the rebate from them for glasses is quite small as the rate was set some years ago and it has not kept up with the rise in costs. That being said they paid 70 euros and I paid 109 so it was still a very good deal.

To answer your question, John, no they are not a part of the mutualiste it was they who quoted me the 285 euros and I only went to them because I thought they were cheap. Wrong!! The opthalmologist was really cool. My previous glasses had varifocal lenses and during the examination he asked me if I used my glasses for reading. Well I don't as otherwise I have to hold the book at arms length, the same with the computer, I always take my glasses off then as well. He pointed out that as that was the case there was no point in my having varifocal lenses as it was a waste of money. Having now had the glasses for several weeks I have to say that he was exactly right, I wonder why Specsavers didn't tell me that.

Good luck with finding your glasses, I have a spare pair if it needs to be a serious search!!!!!

Do you have a mutuelle? We both have mutuels (hubby and I) We get great prices around 500€uros (as we are both on each others mutuelle also) last year we spent over 1000euros without putting our hands in the pocket we both pay 50€uros each a month for these mutuelles so in fact we got 10 months worth lol

Although I must be honest it really pisses me off when one realise that we both have to have the mutuelle that our companies supply and that there are people out there who have no mutuelle at all because of costs !!!!! Really really ridiculous but what can you do !!If it was up to me I would give mine to someone who cant afford !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great bit of info, Norman.

Round these here Le Centre parts the only 'serious' eye examination was at the local hospital and after several months wait. He then prescribed glasses that I might need - in ten years time to read a London A to Z.

General D'Optique - is that the same as the Mutualiste set up?

Will investigate more - when I find one of six pairs of specs that are around here ...somewhere