Help Please re Opticians v Ophthalmologists

This afternoon I have an appointment with my ophthalmologist. He will give me a prescription. In the past I have always either bought glasses on line or just got cheap reading glasses from Leclerc because I have always thought of French opticians as being much too expensive.

Reading elsewhere, I now understand that it is possible to have glasses covered by my mutuelle. Before I approach the new optician in town though, I’d be grateful for some info please.

Will the optician just take the prescription provided by the ophthalmologist? Or will they want to do a fresh test? If so, will I have to pay for the test?
Are all opticians now required to offer basic glasses covered by a mutuelle?
What exactly is covered in the basic mutuelle cover? Just frames? Frames and basic lenses? (I realise that as soon as the lens has added extras - coating / varilux/varifocal etc it will cost me)
What happens if I want to buy more than one pair of glasses? Presumably I’ll have to pay for the second and third set in full.
The reason I’m asking is that I prefer to have three sets of glasses - perfectly simple lens: one pair for long distance, one pair for mid/computer focus and one for close-up/reading.

OH has 100% santé glasses. He went to his opticians, they checked the prescription (no charge) and when he asked for 100% santé rather than the designer glasses they rustled around in a bottom drawer to find them! He had a choice of about 15 straightforward plastic frames, perfectly serviceable and acceptable if you are not Edna Everidge. But look at the hinges - some better than others.

Since we don’t have a mutuelle the whole thing (frame and lenses) cost him something like 30 € euros.

He could have had a second pair too…

And yea every optician must offer a selection of 100% santé glasses


The Opticien I go to looks at the prescription… asks me what frames I want… and I often just reuse…
then a devis is worked out depending on what sort of lenses and all the finishes which are possible…

The devis is then forward to the Mutuelle by the Op person and we wait to see how much, if any I will need to pay.

I asked only the other week, and was told that the 100% frames are available to look at and make a decision on whether to pay more for a different frame.

In fact, they made a devis for OH buying frames at around 220 € and it turned out that SS and Mutuelle would pay tuppence towards that cost… slight exagerration… so OH decided to keep his existing 220€ frames. However, his all-singing, all-dancing lenses were fully covered… yippee…


Having recently gone through exactly the same process, I can answer serval of your questions.

  1. Yes the optician with take the opthalmo’s prescription
  2. Yes options have to offer basic glasses - even without a mutuelle I understand they are free but I didn’t try that. My basic mutuelle covered frames and varifocal lenses
  3. The number of pairs depends, like in the UK, what offers are currently running at that optician. I got a 2 for 1 offer

I didn’t bother asking for 100% sante glasses (which is the key word for free ones) so got some bit frames which were just what I wanted, with complex lenses. Two pairs therefore ended up costing me 100 eursos,w hich is far less than I have ever paid inthe UK…

(Sorry @JaneJones - I took so long typing that we crossed!)


The prices of glasses here horrifies me. Online, in the past, I typically have paid £20/30. And that includes quite reasonable looking frames.

Thanks for the advice everyone. Certainly not Edna Everidge! So I’ll take the bog-standard plastic.

I loathe varifocal and actually think they are quite bad for posture because one does not move eyes and head naturally in order to stay within the narrow range of focus.

My OH ordered some new glasses yesterday, with ordnance from Optho.
Two pairs of progresifs, outdoor pair photochromic. The dearer frames total cost 485 euros other pair 1 euro! Total cost to pay after reimbursement 7 .85 euro :clap:
Remember Sue, they price lens individually and they can check your reimbursement for you and give you the total price.
A few months ago I paid 21 euros for two pair of reading glasses.

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If I just have a bit of a need for reading glasses (as most of us from 40s onwards have done I’m sure!) do I still need to go to an opthalmologist first? Or can I jut go into an opticians (some of them do seem to have ‘testing available’ type signs)?

No you don’t but bear in mind that the optician isn’t looking for more serious conditions. Both OH and I have gradually increasing cataracts and other complications as well, so being monitored yearly is important for us. Mind you, it’s been many a year since we saw 40! :grin:

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If I just have a bit of a need for reading glasses (as most of us from 40s onwards have done I’m sure!) do I still need to go to an opthalmologist first?

If you have never been to an ophthalmologist in France then, yes, it is better that you start there. If there are any serious corrections to be mad, it is the “opthalmo” who will find them because they have the technical means to do so.

If, otoh, you’ve been to one in the past and they are nearby, do continue with them. Changing opthos is possible but it takes time - especially nowadays when people are just getting back-to-work in France. (There are mountains of requests waiting for them …)