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

I get mine from glasses direct - cheapest pair was £20.

eggsy11 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:41:16

oh really lauries? thanks , i'll have a look! hope they do my big lenses size!

Hmmm - I kind of agree - but then if you can afford £12 a month for lenses you can afford glasses as you are spending £120 a year on them....

Unless you change your frames every year then they are a cheaper option than your lenses and they won't damage your eyes.

I have crappy eyesight too, and astigmatism which means that my lenses are over £20 a month, and glasses cost at least £150 and yes it would be nice if they were free, and they are for children and people on certain benefits. If they were free to everyone though costs would go up elsewhere, so they still wouldn't be "free".

So, you have spent £720 on contact lenses over the past 5 years, but you can't afford £100 for glasses. I do agree that the most basic pair of glasses should be free on the NHS, but I think your budget may need some tweaking.

That aside, have a look at glasses direct - cheaper than high st opticians.

Cancel your contact lens supply for a while.
Or do you get half price glasses if you have lenses by post?

TBH you can't wear contacts all the time, even the new extended wear ones. And if they are damaging your eyes I'm shock that your optician is letting you carry on wearing them.

I can't suggest what you can do WRT the glasses. Would they let you pay them up over a term of weeks/months if you have the £12 to pay?

My maths is appalling at this time of night! £12 a month for 12 months is £144 a year NOT £120 blush.

PrettyKitty1986 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:43:05

I know exactly how you feel. My prescription is - 10.75 in both eyes. I don't think people realise what a high prescription is like sometimes and how much it affects you in everyday life. I couldn't function at all with no glasses/contacts, I just as well close my eyes completely. I too have to pay a fortune to get the glass thinned because no frame will support glass as thick as I need it otherwise. I do think NHS vouchers etc need reviewing for higher prescriptions as the basic amount doesn't touch the sides in the glasses needed for high prescriptions

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:43:56

dont go to the internet with a high RX. asking for trouble....

if you cant afford much try specsavers - go for plastic frames so you can get away with lenses that are not thinned - or go for a very small roundish shape frame - minus lenses are thicker at the edge so avoid square or oblong frames.

it can be done cheaper than what you paid but avoid internet like the plague with your high rx - you need to be seen to get pupil measurements etc correct.

if you havent used the voucher you should be able to get another if you cancelled order in good time.

pinkstinks Sun 20-Jan-13 23:44:48

I feel your pain, I am a minus 7.5 and minus 8, I have to pay extra to have glasses thinned as they will not hold the heavy frame otherwise. I do get a free pair every year or so though with my lens plan from specsavers, I have to pay more depending on the frame I pick but it does help towards the cost. As I literally cannot see anything without them they are a necessity.

eggsy11 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:44:56

Yes but £12 a month is different to £100 in one go when you have no money! if i saved up it would mean not being able to see for a year! Because my glasses aren't useable really. other than shuffling to brush my teeth in the am.

the optician said the blood vessels in my eyes are creeping in (i think that's what she said) as my eyes aren't getting enough oxygen sad there is no way i could spend £100 though!!

Could you put your glasses in a case so when they fall off you can find them more quickly?

EduCated Sun 20-Jan-13 23:46:16

Problem is, it's not like the OP can cancel the contact lenses whilst she saves up for the glasses.

It is shit, wearing glasses is hardly a choice, particularly with a prescription as strong as yours.

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:46:20

you dont want a big lens size! that would increas the thickness!

DO NOT use the interenet for your RX! you can get cheap decent specs - you just need the right dispenser and tell them what your budget is!

i used to work in eyes - 10 years. please dont use internet - asking for trouble with your prescription!!

shop around. you can get some glasses - you need to work out what you can afford and tell the dispenser.

PrettyKitty1986 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:46:38

It's not the glasses that cost, it's the glass. I had to pay 120 quid just to get new glass put in my existing frames, buying from glasses direct does't help with that.

ZooAnimals Sun 20-Jan-13 23:46:48

In theory, yes they should. There just isn't the money for it. They're free for people on a low income and children etc. Thay have given you a voucher towards it and by their calculations you can afford it (are they wrong if you can afford the contact lenses?). Are you sure there isn't anywhere else you can scrimp so that you can afford the glasses?

I would check some other places. I know DH got a pair of glasses free when we were on tax credits, I think he just went to specsavers or something.

I used to over-wear my contacts, I know how it is, but you really don't want to mess with your eyes! You are basically carving rings into your eyeballs (my eye doctor showed this to me) it will get to the point where you physically cannot wear contacts any more and may have really damaged eyesight. Then you will be kicking yourself for not sorting it.

Just got mine from asda. I'm -5.5 and -4.75 and they thinned the lenses for free as my prescription warranted it shock never had that before!

Startail Sun 20-Jan-13 23:48:43

YANBU that if your entitled to a voucher towards the cost of glasses that voucher should cover the cheapest your opticians can do.

I'm not as short sighted as you, but -5 is enough to make doing most things impossible without my glasses.

I also have long suffering DDs and DH trained to find lost gkasses.

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:49:33

if you are getting increased vessels it means you are overwearing your lenses.

you need some specs and give your eyes a rest from lenses - then dont over wear them.

i promise you - you can get some specs that will look ok. its the shape of the lens that matters for a minus RX - i once dispenses a -11 rx that looked so fantastic it was shown to the entire shop - they were standard lenses - not thinned down - its the shape that matters and the size of the frame.

go to someone who knows what they are doing and give them a budget!

timidviper Sun 20-Jan-13 23:49:58

The opticians have enormous markups on stuff so although in one way YANBU I don't think the NHS should have to pay that much into profits of private companies.

DD's friend works for a national chain of opticians and we were shocked to see the low price she can get stuff at compared to the cost to the public.

I bought some designer glasses on a BOGOF but the free pair still cost me a fortune because of the lenses, I found I only wore the one pair so never wore the second lot, DD decided she would like them and her friend got new lenses made and fitted in them for £30 which was a fraction of what I paid.

I have terrible eyesight, too, and cannot function without my glasses on any level - I'd be as well having my eyes closed as not wearing specs. I think if my eyes were suffering through contact lens use, I'd find a way somehow to get the £100 together for new glasses.

I actually stopped my contact lenses a couple of years ago as I could no longer justify the £25 a month (astigmatism and long sighted). My glasses are about £150 every 2 years.

Have you thought about something like HSA? My mum has a really high Rx and she uses HSA to pay for it. She pays so much a month and gets her glasses and dental work paid for. She gets new specs every year paid for by them.

I know she gets back more than she ever pays in, so might be worth a look.

ouryve Sun 20-Jan-13 23:51:17

£12 a month for lenses? At specsavers, that would be higher end frames with extra thin lenses plus a second pair, every other year. So one pair a year.

So what's your actual problem?

Oh yes, definitely get the smallest lenses you can manage! That will help a lot.

wonkylegs Sun 20-Jan-13 23:52:15

There are plenty of things that are essential for people with long term medical problems that aren't available free on the NHS I'm afraid. A line has to be drawn somewhere. I still have to pay for prescriptions albeit I buy a pre pay cert to save costs despite the fact that they are essential to my everyday life and slow down the progression of a disease that would disable and eventually kill me.
Ideal world we wouldn't have to pay for these things but we live in a real world and the money has to come from somewhere.

Can you replace the lense in your current glasses therefore saving the cost of new frames or do they not offer that option? Going forward I would start putting 10quid aside each month in a glasses fund for your next pair

It's now called Simply Health apparently.

Sorry, I meant smallest frames blush

Would some opticians offer a credit scheme, so you could get the glasses and pay it up monthly, paying the same or less than what you are for your contacts so you can stop the contacts?

Link starts at £10.85 a month, which gives you £90 a year towards specs, plus money towards dentists and physio.

ouryve Sun 20-Jan-13 23:54:43

I've never woken up with my glasses lost on the floor, btw. I've almost slammed a cup down on them in the mddle of the night, but they're always where i left them, in the morning.

Maybe a bigger bedside table would be a better investment. Or else, just tidy up the one you've got so there's less on it and your glasses don't fall on the floor.

eggsy11 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:56:12

ouryve a bit a month is different to a lump sum.

i'm a student at uni, and have a ds. £100 is an incredible amount when you live off less than half that a week! I wasn't really talking about my individual circumstance so much, more the fact that people who have high prescriptions genuinely can't live without them. It's like denying someone medication they need to survive. Because I 100% couldn't leave the house without mine!

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:58:26

most opticians would let you pay bit by bit aswell.

i hope you spot my posts - i used to dispense some very complex prescriptions - anyone who knows their stuff will be able to help you get the best result for your budget. independents are best or if you go to a chain ask to see a dispensing optician for your dispense.
tell them what you can afford. that way no shocks and they can really help you find what you need.

good luck, your voucher will be knocked off the end price. you should get a voucher B, better than nothing though. im certain that at some places your lenses would be covered and you would only have the frame to pay for.

eggsy11 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:58:33

okay that was a bit dramatic!

ZooAnimals Sun 20-Jan-13 23:59:46

Look at the link coola posted or speak to specsavers or someone about paying in installments. You can pay for everything in installments, I'm sure somewhere must do glasses like this.

eggsy11 Mon 21-Jan-13 00:00:06

thanks vicar. I may go in search of a friendlier optician to help then! lovely mumsnet advice! smile

ouryve that's pretty rude.

eggsy - I've just been looking more into Simply Health - and they have an offer on at the moment for one month free and a £15 voucher so you would actually be paying out less to have glasses and dental than you pay just for lenses now - and it's a monthly payment.

Plus you can claim immediately - no need to wait once you have joined. The only thing is you claim AFTER you have paid for the glasses, but they do pay you the money back very quickly, so maybe it would be manageable done at the beginning of a month or something?

Beaverfeaver Mon 21-Jan-13 00:01:27

I just bought my frames off eBay and will send them to cilary blue for glazing which works out even cheaper than glasses direct!

OwlCatMouse Mon 21-Jan-13 00:01:39

What contact lenses do you use? I had that with my daily ones (blood vessels growing) but it stopped when I got my acuvue ones.

I don't even have any glasses that I can wear now - just wear my lenses all the time and have done for 20 years. Opticiansays my eyes haventchanged at all in over 10 years, so its fine.

QueenStromba Mon 21-Jan-13 00:01:51

The thing that annoys me about the NHS is that most common chronic conditions entitle you to free prescriptions but asthma doesn't. Why is it that I have to pay the ~£10 a month prescription prepayment charge when someone who has diabetes or an under-active thyroid doesn't?

KenAdams Mon 21-Jan-13 00:02:15

I'm the same prescription as you and its not as you make out - you can still see your way to the bathroom! You don't HAVE to have thinner lenses either, there are plenty of frames that will hold standard lenses for that prescription, they just aren't very pretty.

mrswoz Mon 21-Jan-13 00:03:15

Like others have mentioned above I have had a free or discounted pair of glasses from specsavers for being on their lensmail scheme. I most recently paid extra for the thin lenses and I'm pretty sure the total was way less than £100. I'm -8.00 both eyes, luxurious new glasses which I don't wear all the time, but would happily do so now, they're lovely.

Have needed correction since age 7, dread to think how much it costs over a lifetime, so yanbu to feel annoyed that we have to pay so much towards it. Not sure the NHS should foot the bill either tho confused

eggsy11 Mon 21-Jan-13 00:03:35

that sounds great, thanks coola i have bookmarked simply health to look at tomorrow!

Catchingmockingbirds Mon 21-Jan-13 00:08:09

Yanbu, but unfortunately a lot of things aren't available on the nhs. My DS's OT equipment (therapy balls etc), and aids (cutlery for instance as he physically can't use normal cutlery) is a necessity but isn't funded by the nhs, I need to buy everything myself. DSD's standing frames and other necessary equipment has to be fundraised and bought as nhs won't fund it.

frogspoon Mon 21-Jan-13 00:10:41

Glasses Lens prescriptions should be priced in the same way as prescription medicines

Prescription medicines have a standard cost. It doesn't matter if your medicine cost the NHS 50p or £50, everyone pays a standard fee.

In the same way, basic lenses in basic frames should cost a standard fee, regardless of the complexity of the prescription. It would mean that the cost would go up for people with simple prescriptions, but would be fairer overall (in the same way that some prescription medicines are actually cheaper for the NHS to buy than the standard prescription fee, but others are much more expensive)

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Mon 21-Jan-13 00:11:03

cilary blue book marked, mr magoo dh needs some new bins

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 21-Jan-13 00:12:03

ken - its subjective. you may well see better without specs - it doesnt mean OP does. everyones visual acuity is different.

im a very small rx but i wouldnt drive without my specs - my visual acuity is much better with correction even though my correction is only slight.

OP - im not sure those health schemes are worth it - just put a bit away each month and you will afford your specs.

honestly - if you go to someone who knows what they are doing despense wise you could get something within your budget - be clear about what that is to start with. if you are anywhere near me i would help you. where are you?

i actually miss dispensing. i was rather good at it....taught by the best! it maybe that in the current circumstances i end up back there....

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Mon 21-Jan-13 00:16:44

Vicar and they would be lucky to have you

pippop1 Mon 21-Jan-13 00:17:43

If your frames are still OK how about asking the optician to put new lenses in the old frame? Alternatively can they re-coat your old lenses in the old frames so that they are wearable?

Then you can start saving for nicer frames in the future.

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Mon 21-Jan-13 00:21:34

i know that asda were including high index lenses in their bogoff thing last year.

ceeveebee Mon 21-Jan-13 00:23:56

I have similar prescription to you and the ultrathin lenses are very necessary. I joined boots contact lens scheme and then got 50% off all frames and glasses. Then cancel the lens scheme!

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 21-Jan-13 00:24:23

aw thanks loves
unfortunately my speccy career ended when i joined a rather pants branch of specsavers....wish id just stayed with the indie i was at before. 10 years of experience down the drain.

then i got into police which is more pants.

OP my offer of help is genuine if you are anywhere near to me. Im in yorkshire.

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Mon 21-Jan-13 00:28:51

Op she means it, she doesn't offer to everyone!

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Mon 21-Jan-13 00:29:40

Would you like to get out of the police go back?

juneybean Mon 21-Jan-13 00:30:48

Are you with specsavers? As I pay a monthly subscription for my contact lenses I get my glasses at NHS prices.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 21-Jan-13 00:40:26

Dunno loves right now I'm off work. Trying to put that decision off for a bit longer. Anyway best get to bed. Let me know if I can help op.

ddubsgirl Mon 21-Jan-13 00:42:47

Look around for different prices specsavers are pretty good also if you have pinching of the vessels in the eyes pls pls get checked for diabetes! Mine wasn't picked up on and now I have to go back to the hospital for treatment as I have eye damage sad

sashh Mon 21-Jan-13 03:32:53

Can I recommend this practice?

I don't use them anymore because they sold their town centre shop and I moved away.

BUT when I did they had a policy that if you had an NHS voucher you couldn't afford to pay more so they would do the extras for free or very reduced so frames for £10.

DizzyZebra Mon 21-Jan-13 04:56:37

I thin in cases where it has a profound effect on the persons life as in your case, yes it should be free.

My daughter is deaf.and her eqipment is funded by the nhs and always will be.

DizzyZebra Mon 21-Jan-13 05:02:34

Or at the very least done on a prescription like medicines.

Iamaslummymummy Mon 21-Jan-13 06:25:26

I have -15 lenses with high astigmatism. I get 1.9 glass thinned lenses from asda. 2 pairs for 90 pounds minus my complex lens voucher. So yours would be 90 % minus your voucher

Pigsmummy Mon 21-Jan-13 06:33:11

I get my lenses online in bulk. 90 lenses, free delivery. I use the sleep in ones currently as having new baby and not being able to see isn't great. My glasses are plastic as lenses are thick. When replacing will buy online. Have you considered laser surgery? Interest free repayments over a few years.

Don't get me started on the randomness of prescriptions Queen, though as an aside did you know you can now buy blue releivers 2 for £7 from Asda? It is saving me quite a bit to be honest, just need to get my preventor on prescription now.

OP, whilst I do see what you are saying, I have very poor eyesight and an astygmatism so glasses cost a fortune. With my contact lens scheme I get 1 pair of free glasses every 2 years I think. My scheme costs a couple of quid a month more than yours but might be worth looking into. I view it as a saving scheme now for new glasses.

If I remember rightly (at this time in the morning!) they also thinned the lens for free and put a protective coating on them too.

Fairylea Mon 21-Jan-13 06:46:15

Internet specs are fine if you have low prescriptions but if you have a high index or astigmatism then you need your eyes properly measured so the pupil sits in the right place... and this isn't the same as the pupil measurement on your prescription. Ordering glasses online that aren't absolutely right can lead to eye strain which can actually make things worse.

I sympathise. I am -9.5 in both eyes and I have to be aware of retina tearing now. My mum is -12.5. Both blind as bats.

Fairylea Mon 21-Jan-13 06:48:01

Oh sorry meant to say definitely go with specsavers for contacts. Then you get free glasses (basic prescription lenses).. with the voucher as well and difficult lenses I only then had to pay an extra £30.

HKat Mon 21-Jan-13 06:50:56

Haven't read whole thread so apologies if someone has already said this, but with your prescription I don't think you even can get your glasses off the internet. I'm -7/-8 and Glasses Direct wouldn't accept me - think they said anything over -7 couldn't be online. I looked at a couple of other sites and found the same. Op I feel your pain!!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 21-Jan-13 06:55:27

There's a £25 range at specsavers that includes the standard lens so with your voucher you might get the thinning covered too (although agree with Vicar that thinking requirements depend in the frame) eg:

Trazzletoes Mon 21-Jan-13 06:59:38

Queen because diabetes and underactive thyroids usually mean you have a host of other problems as well. The free prescription is not to find the insulin or thyroxine per se.

OP I feel your pain. I had a scleral buckle put on my eye last summer. It's changed my prescription but I can't afford new glasses. I can manage ok with these but worry that it's damaging my sight longterm.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 21-Jan-13 07:01:57

DH has free eye tests as his prescription is so high and is progressively worsening (-10+), and yes, he cannot function without specs or lenses.

Even with his outrageous prescription though, small frames will reduce the thickness of the lens to something reasonably manageable. He has a nice pair that we pay crazy money for with high index lenses, and then an emergency pair which have normal lenses.

IncognitoIsMyFavouriteWord Mon 21-Jan-13 07:05:07

what benefits are they free?

they weren't free when I was on income support. It was still exactly the same. And that was with specsavers.

My glasses are a fortune too. The cheaper frames tend to be crap and not very robust. I have to pay for the lense thinning myself so when you're supposed to get a second pair for free I had to use that voucher for the thinning.

The only cheap optician near me is specsavers all the rest are independents so much more expensive.

The cost doesn't even compare to the cost of medicine prescriptions. Also if your lense prescription changes you only get the sight test free everything else has to be paid for all over again and its not like you can just go without.angry

rant over

fluffiphlox Mon 21-Jan-13 07:08:00

I had no idea you could get specs so cheaply. I am very shortsighted with astigmatism and usually get stung for about £400, but as I wear my specs all day every day, I think it's worth it.
I wouldn't normally suggest it, but couldn't you stick them on a credit card? They're a necessity after all.

memphis83 Mon 21-Jan-13 07:22:24

I echo the other posters saying Asda. My db has the thick lenses for free from there.

I don't want to sound harsh but there is a huge elephant in the room "Can't see the woods for the trees " situation.

eggsy11 - the contact lenses are damaging your eyes.

You've got the blood vessels growing in which means they are being starved of oxygen.
So while you are saying "Oh I can't afford £100 but I can do £12 a month just now"
You are carrying on with the damage.
Where's the sense?
Surely if you go to an optician- and you can take your prescription to any optician, they will see your dilemma?

HappyAsASandboy Mon 21-Jan-13 07:29:23

My prescription is the same as yours.

I get my glasses from tesco opticians (in store, not online). Their cheapest glasses are £15 and £20, with lots of choice at £65. They will put our prescription in the frames at the standard price, but will try to sell you the thinner lenses first (by telling you fat lenses are ugly in the frames sad ) You'll need to pick the big chunky plastic frames though, not delicate wire ones.

I hope you find some soon, but in the meantime, can you bear to travel to and from work in your glasses and put your lenses in when you get there/before you leave? Or at least as soon as you get home? Every hour you can wear glasses instead of lenses, particularly awake hours, will help with the capillary creep.

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 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 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

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.

marriedinwhite Mon 21-Jan-13 08:57:50

I get free prescription because of a thyroid problem and have no other complex needs although I would strongly object to the practice of 28, 56 day prescribing that was introduced if I did not. Especially for a thyroxine tablet which I have taken at an unaltered dose for 23 years and which has an exceptionally long shelf life. I do agree though that there should be more means testing although on the other hand we get nothing else whatsoever: no tax credits, we missed nursery vouchers, child benefit gone, etc., etc., and it's my one concession from the state.

Rather like the OP and Tee2072 I have a more complex prescription too and need varifocals (or I suppose two pairs of glasses like my gran used to have). Also like Tee2072 the last pair of specs admittedly with a frame I really liked but which wasn't over the top were well over £400.00 and now need replacing as I can feel my prescription has changed. I rarely wear contacts now and 30 last me for about two years but I need reading glasses over the top if I have to look at a menu for example.

OP - I've got a couple of old frames lurking in my bedside table. Simple, small, silvery - would you like me to send you a pair. Happy to do so - just pm me. The prescriptions in them are close to -7.25 but not quite I think and pre-date me needing varifocals.

munchkinmaster Mon 21-Jan-13 09:54:09


My point was lots of people with life threatening complex conditions are paying for prescriptions

Only the following get free prescriptions in England:
A permanent fistula requiring dressing.
Forms of hypoadrenalism such as Addison's disease.
Under active thyroid
Myasthenia gravis.
A continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without help from another person.

So you can be really sick and not get.

I know this isn't really what this discussion is about but people are arguing if x gets, y should too. There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about who gets what.

munchkinmaster Mon 21-Jan-13 09:58:16

In Scotland I think free eye test every other year if you think prescription has changed.

I've just been quoted £480 just for lenses for new glasses, I only wear them part of the time because I do wear contact lenses, my prescription is -11, so I do get free eye tests, but the cost of the glasses is just staggering and it isn't an option not to have them as backup to the contacts, I want to wear contacts for the rest of my life and that means not overwearing them.

Skinnywhippet Mon 21-Jan-13 10:48:59

My mum has dreadful sight. it is about minus 10 due to illness when she was small. She is entitled to free glasses and sight tests regardless of her income.

I think glasses etc are free, but you have to have terrible sight. My mum considered paying for laser surgery, but this would not perfect her sight and she would then have to pay for her opticians and glasses as she would no longer be classed bad enough.

soaccidentprone Mon 21-Jan-13 11:14:11

I have got rubbish eyesight and have worn glasses since I was 7.

I get a free eye test and £10 towards the cost of my lens from the NHS.

I need thinner lens otherwise the bridge of my nose and my ears would hurt.

thankfully I am in Westfield so can claim back my money. they currently have waived the qualifying claim period, so you could take out the policy and then claim straight away.

it also covers dental etc, so for me it more than covers itself.

specialsubject Mon 21-Jan-13 11:18:52

as a glasses wearer of four decades I agree - but as someone else points out, there are many other health conditions that also cost.

OP, if your eyes are showing signs of oxygen deprivation you MUST take action. Go speak to the bank about an overdraft if you can't afford the glasses, but do SOMETHING. You do not get spare eyes.


LimburgseVlaai Mon 21-Jan-13 11:53:39

Sorry, another voice here saying that if you can afford lenses, you can afford new glasses. Besides, OP, I think you are being a bit melodramatic:

"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 prescription is similar to yours (-7.5 and +2 - wait until you have to pay for varifocals), but I can get around the house perfectly well without my glasses. Initially it is hard, but after a few minutes your eyes and your brain adjust and you're fine. I swim without my glasses and haven't bumped into anything yet. Of course, driving is something else; but being in tears? not finding your way to the bathroom? Come on.

marriedinwhite Mon 21-Jan-13 12:36:40

To be fair - I feel rather like the OP but when mine fall off the bedside table I generally know where they land and can grope around for them.

The OP is in this situation right now and it must be hard although I find it difficult to imagine how she got into it. For a start I always keep my last two pairs of specs so that I can "manage" if I were to crunch my existing ones - at least until a new prescription is made up. Also, I know my prescription changes every two or three years and new glasses are something I budget for. I also budget generously because I wear my glasses every single day and they sit on my face and I want to have glasses that are as complimentary as possible to my appearance.

Vain bugger that I am, as the OP is a student, I think I'd be looking for a part-time job to fund the stuff I wanted - bit of cleaning, ironing, shelf stacking, dog walking, babysitting, etc. My DS is 18 and has supplemented his allowance since he was 16 and has never had too much trouble finding odd jobs and has a cracking babysitting round which he fits in round socialising, 6th form (complex A'Level quals), and training and playing for school and club teams.

If you survive on less than half of £100 pw - how about that as a little idea OP? You could buy some nice stuff for your ds too.

Could you have a clear-out and sell any old toys, electronics etc to put towards the glasses? Or take out a small loan so that the repayments are the same as contact lenses?

I agree that there probably should be some kind of discount on lenses over a certain prescription strength. I don't really think frames should be free though. But the fact is, there isn't, and you really need these glasses!

MyNameIsLola Mon 21-Jan-13 13:02:42

I agree with you in principle. Both DH and I need glasses and they're bloody expensive and take a hefty chunk out of the household budget. We are not entitled to any help with the cost and its been a struggle to pay for them in the past.

However, the money just isn't available so I can't see how it could be free for everyone. Saying that though, I do think it might be better if opticians could offer decent, no interest payment plans.

hrrumph Mon 21-Jan-13 13:09:50

YANBU or at least provided for people on low incomes.

I know my dh's were £300 recently. That's a significant prescription you need as well. It's not as though you could manage without them.

What gets me is how they can be so expensive. If they can sell prescription swimming goggles for £25, why can't they make glasses for £25?

My optician reckons children don't get glasses completely free, like adults it's a voucher to a certain amount (DD wears glasses and DS might need them).

I agree with not going to the internet with a high prescription, but for people with a high prescription who need thin glass, a smaller sized frame, something like this will work better. It's what I do (-10 and -10.5, with astigmatism).

And please be aware that Specsavers will only order glasses with full payment up front now. I queried this last time, to be told it's because so many orders had previously been placed and people not collecting/not paying.

babyphat Mon 21-Jan-13 14:34:22

YANBU to want new specs. YABU to burst into tears every time you knock them off the bedside table. Good luck finding some that don't blow the budget smile

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