to think glasses should be free on the nhs?

(114 Posts)
eggsy11 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:35:51

My prescription is minus 7.5 in both eyes. That means that if my glasses have fallen off my bedside table I am in tears until DH manages to find them. I can barely feel my way to the bathroom without glasses or contacts. It is fair to say I literally couldn't function without them. I couldn't certainly couldn't cook or wash, let along leave the house.

My glasses are now five years old, and have no coating left on the outside, so they barely function, hence me wearing contacts 99% of the time, which i've been told is damaging my eyes. They cost about £12 a month, monthly disposables.

Recently found out that since we get tax credits, I receive a voucher towards glasses. I was so excited, I went to the optitians, picked out the cheapest frames I could find (£50, were the cheapest ones that would hold my lenses which are thick since they're so strong), HAD to pay an extra £50 to have the glass thinned down just one stage as the lenses wouldn't fit even in big thick black chunky frames. Add that to the cost of the lenses anyway, £150 for glasses. NHS voucher was £56, so still £100.

I had to cancel it as I can't afford £100 on myself. I think it's so unfair that i'm in a position where I physically can't see without glasses and yet they're not free? Lucky I can wear contacts! sad

Trazzle, I think Queen (and certainly I) meant that it is unfair that one condition gets free prescriptions but an equally life threatening one doesn't. Asthma also leaves you more susceptible to other chest complaints (I'm on my second lot of antibiotics for an upper respirortary infection which with the additional steriods and inhalor use looks likely to cost me in the region of £100 this year). Luckily my overdraft can take it (just) but not everyone can afford that kind of outlay for an illness.

P.s. sorry about spelling, I am just rubbish at it!

I don't think glasses are ever free once you're over 16.
I've neededd new pairs while I was on Income Support and later on JSA - neither are free, just discounted. I paid about 10 quid for frames, can't remember how much it was for the lenses, but it was doable.

I agree that it should be free if your sight is life-limiting without correction. And a good pair of glasses can last years, I generally only need new ones when DS someone breaks them.
I highly recommend the OP look for any local indies, as has been suggested above. It's nicer and much cheaper than going to the big brands, generally.

I agree totally, -11 here and dependent on glasses/contacts, should get free glasses if you are on a low income.

mademred Mon 21-Jan-13 07:42:52

I'm in the same boat at mo.as a child I had an operation for a squint, and my eyes were tested every six months, year at the very most and there was always a change in my prescription.however, specsavers decided I should only be tested every two years.im now due to be tested im April this year, not long had a baby, I was under the impression that the maternity exemption covered it but apparently not, anyway im now getting horrible stabbing pains in my eye, and my dh went to the opticians on the weekend to book me in.they have refused because im not due, and told me to see my gp for a hospital referral.i know my glasses are going to be expensive even with the voucher so don't know how we going to afford it either at mo.

notjustamummythankyou Mon 21-Jan-13 07:43:54

Got the same advice as ceeveebee - sign up to Boots' contact lenses by post scheme. You get 50% off all glasses.

You can also pause the scheme for a while if you have a backlog of lenses and not pay for a few months. I only wear contact lenses occasionally and realised I had enough to see me through the best part of the year. They suspended the supply for 6 months, and I can suspend it again if I need to. That's nearly £20 a month saved!

I use the slightly more breathable lenses- all day, all night with Specsavers, I get free checks, and glasses under £45 free.

I too have a huge prescription and it is horrible not being able to see but glasses are so very important. You really can't scrimp on not having a pair, even if they're not the most funky with the thickest lens, it doesn't matter.

You really don't want to affect your vision more.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 21-Jan-13 07:45:32

Madem I think eye tests are not advised during pregnancy and shortly after as the eye changes then anyway. Anecdotal evidence, not fact - Vicar etc would know more.

But it's not unreasonable to suggest hospital if you have stabbing pains in your eye - it may be outside an optician's remit.

lightrain Mon 21-Jan-13 07:46:30

Slightly off topic but NHS-wise, you already get free prescriptions, free dental and vouchers for sight tests and money off new glasses for low incomes. That's a lot, lot more than most countries. I think it's enough - if glasses are fundamental to your life because your sight is so bad, then it's a case of budgeting, isn't it? The benefit system can support and help those who find themselves in need at certain times of their life but it's not there to provide every single thing a person could ever need forever and ever. Otherwise tax would be horrific. Plenty of people on higher incomes struggle to find money for higher-ticket items too.

Tee2072 Mon 21-Jan-13 07:50:41

Be glad they are so cheap.

I have -7.25 in each eye and +1.5. So Varifocals. Which may turn into triple focals in the next year as my my middle vision is blending into my long and short very quickly.

My lenses, no frames, are over £400. That does include thinned down etc.

But I can't wear contacts due to my corneas being damaged by them previously and so I save the money and pay what I have to pay so I can see.

And I would never buy them off the internet. They are so cheap for a reason.

maddening Mon 21-Jan-13 07:52:46

How much is it to keep your old frames and just get new lenses?

MrsKeithRichards Mon 21-Jan-13 07:53:20

Big chain opticians push so hard for the thinking it's awful. I'm -12 and -10 and I manage to get a pair of frames from Tesco for £15 and said no about 100 times to the thinning. That was without a voucher toward the cost. It is possible. This thinning is a relatively new thing.

Your voucher value will increase depending on your prescription. I got caught out the first time I went for specs post ds. She asked if I claimed tax credits. I did and she told me how much I could spend, I had to add to it as well but I was so pleased. A few weeks later I got a letter from the nhs for a gradual t claim. I only claimed normal tax credits at that point, I didn't realise it had to be the higher rate before you qualified.

Shesparkles Mon 21-Jan-13 07:53:32

If you have an Asda optician near you I'd happily recommend them. The ophthalmic optician in my local one is the same locum as a couple of private practices use.
ALL coatings and lens thinning is included in the price, and I think they start at about £29.
I'd avoid Specsavers like the plague to be honest, the way they add costs for every little thing is ridiculous-in my more ignorant days of using them for my daughter, they were charging £60 for lens thinning for an 8 year old!

CloudsAndTrees Mon 21-Jan-13 07:58:10

I agree they should be available on the NHS.

The NHS is ridiculously inconsistent sometimes. If they think it's reasonable to give plastic surgery in cases where not having surgery could be detrimental to mental health, to give fertility treatment to people who are making a choice to have children, to give prescription gym memberships to people who are overweight, to treat self inflicted sports or alcohol related injuries, then they should absolutely pay for glasses.

I'm not saying I disagree with the NHS paying for any of the above, I don't disagree that those things should be available, but I do think the NHS should treat everyone's health issues instead of just picking and choosing.

Eye care on the NHS is appalling in my experience, and it is wrong that something as essential as eyesight is given so little priority.

munchkinmaster Mon 21-Jan-13 08:03:02

queen
Hardly any chronic conditions get free prescriptions. Diabetes does and very few others. Take, for example, people post heart transplant. Their medication keeps them alive on a day to day basis but they have to pay prescription charges. I've no idea why some do and don't but it's certainly not just those with asthma who are missing out.

Eglantyne Mon 21-Jan-13 08:04:41

Hi, my prescription is -12.5. I have to have my glasses lens thinned, and there's no way I can wear my glasses all day as I get pains behind my ears from the weight. I wear contacts, but limit myself to 12 hours a day. I had the problem with the veins in my eyes due to lack of oxygen, so my optician changed the sort of contacts he gave me, and it stopped. Ask your optician about contacts that let more oxygen through. Re thick glasses, you need small frames, then the edges won't be so thick. I do know what you are going through, most don't realise what a very high prescription looks like. Could you save up a bit each month until you have enough for new glasses? Don't buy cheap ones off the internet, it's a false economy. I use Vision Express and they have always been fantastic. Usually they have offers for new customers / friends of customers. If you have a branch locally, why not just walk in and see what's the best they can do for you?

Bunbaker Mon 21-Jan-13 08:07:23

I agree with * 70isaLimitNotaTarget*. You risk permanent damage to your eyes. You must find the money somewhere - have you no family you can borrow from? Shop around as well. I am extremely short sighted and ended up with corneal problems from overwearing contact lenses. It frightened me to think I might have permanently damaged my eyes.

landofsoapandglory Mon 21-Jan-13 08:13:00

I don't think they should be on the NHS, it is not a bottomless pit of money. DS2 is asthmatic, he has to have 4 lots of medication a month! When he becomes an adult he will have to pay for them or become very ill or die!

I have 13 different medications on repeat prescription every month. I get no help to pay for them, I buy a 12month prepayment certificate, it is the only way I can afford to do it. I can not work either due to my conditions.

gazzalw Mon 21-Jan-13 08:21:32

We recently had an argument with BIL over a related issue. I have really bad eyesight and as with OP, I cannot see beyond the end of my nose and certainly couldn't survive "in the wild" without my glasses. Personally I am not necessarily in favour of free glasses for everyone but I do think that one should get a free eye-test if one's eyesight is so bad that one couldn't live a normal life without a prescription. To my mind it's not a cosmetic decision to wear eye-wear or not but an absolute necessity.

WelshMaenad Mon 21-Jan-13 08:27:23

My husband has a medical condition called kerataconus, which means that the outside if his cornea is too thin and his eyeballs bulge outward, distorting his vision. He needs to use special contact lenses which reshape his eyeball, they are ruinously expensive, but despite being on a low income, we still have to pay for them in full (we are about £500 a year over the limit for NHS vouchers). It makes me rageous. It's a bloody medical condition! It's not like I have to pay for my diabetes medication, but because its eyes, we have to pay.

Not unreasonable at all!!

gazzalw Mon 21-Jan-13 08:31:45

Exactly my point WelshMaenad, to my mind very, very poor eyesight is as potentially life-threatening (albeit in a different way) to having a thyroid, heart problem or diabetes...

Dare I ask if it's the case that everyone gets free eye-tests in Scotland - I have a hunch that they do...?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 21-Jan-13 08:35:00

Gazzalw, do you work with computers? If so, your work should pay for your eye test.

dopamax Mon 21-Jan-13 08:39:02

agree have same prescription, on benefits.....dont hate me, had a brain tumour now epilepsy, drugs make sight worse!
Cant see a fekking thing! Will look at glasses direct though, worries me bit buying online as so bad needs to be correct.
Should be nhs yes yes yes.

Fakebook Mon 21-Jan-13 08:47:44

My eyesight is REALLY bad. I'm -10 in the right eye and -9 in the left eye blush. My eyesight is so bad, that at my last test I was told I get a free sight test because of how bad my prescription is.

I buy my glasses and lenses from specsavers and use their buy one get one free option. I have to pay £70 for the lense to be thinned down so I normally spend over £200 every few years. If you choose a smaller frame, the lens will be thinner. I'm not thrifty when it comes to buying glasses because I'm going to wear them almost 95% of the time so they need to look and feel good. Can't you save the money you spend on lenses and buy a decent pair of glasses?

Fakebook Mon 21-Jan-13 08:51:28

Actually I've just had a thought, if you have an advantage card from Boots you can use it towards glasses I think. I have about £50 saved on my card.

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