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Varifocal glasses/lenses - advice needed.

(49 Posts)
alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 11:07:24

Hi all, a few months ago I was told by optician that I would benefit from varifocal glasses as I now need to wear glasses for driving, TV and reading. He advised me to make a decent investment on my first pair to give me good surround vision and to also make it much easier to adjust to the lenses. I had heard a few horror stories from friends about this so I decided to spend a decent amount to ensure I don't the same problems. When I was given a price of £470 just for lenses I nearly fell over backwards. I would then have to add the cost of my frame on top! I quickly decided to walk away and have a think about it.

That same week I met up with some friends who are already wearing varifocals, and they told me that investing in decent lenses was the best thing they ever did. I mentioned that my optician had recommended me to 'Zeiss' varifocals but the price blew me away. Apparently Zeiss are a very good German make of lenses and I remembered that my husband used to bang on about Zeiss lenses for his camera. One of my friends already has Zeiss varifocal lenses in her glasses and she said that they were a vast improvement on the glasses she had previously bought from Specsavers. 

My dilemma now is whether I should bite the bullet and shell out for the glasses or go to somewhere like Specsavers and buy a cheap pair in the hope that I'll get on with them. Most of my friends have got the cash to pay out for these expensive German lenses but I'm on a limited budget. Also, do any opticians just put new lenses into your current frame? I love my frame and it's only a year old. Seems such a waste to have to pay for a new one. When I asked my optician if he offered this sort of service he just frowned and told me that it would be far too risky!??

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:21:44

Specsavers do different levels of lenses from the ones they call made to measure, elite and down to an entry level type. They can show you what the vision with each level would look like. I went for the top level, made to measure. I have only had mine for about a month and don't wear them all the time, so i am still getting used to them. I had to go back and get them adjusted. Specsavers is great though, as if they don't feel right for you, you can exchange them for single version/ reading glasses within 30 days. i expect even the top level of Specsavers will be cheaper than what you have been quoted.

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:27:23

www.specsavers.co.uk/glasses/varifocals

This explains the range of lenses on offer. The top of the range lenses may well be comparable quality to the ones your friends are wearing, and the 30 day trial period means you can always exchange them if they are not working for you.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 11:38:33

Thanks for the reply bluebell99. If they offer your money back guarantee then maybe I should go for it. My only worry is the amount of negative feedback on forums about specsavers lenses. I suppose because of my budget I don't have much choice. Unless you know an opticians that sells the Zeiss lenses very cheap!

Tip: Buy your frozen chickens from the supermarket, not your glasses. I learned my lesson the hard way!

I get my varifocals done on the internet these days. Far cheaper doing it this way than any opticians shop. I Usually have new lenses fitted into my own frame which saves my even more money. Lot's of online companies offer this service. I've never had any problems doing this, even though every optician in the world will warn you against it. I think they just get upset when you take your prescription else where. It means that I can now afford really good quality lenses. I have Varilux and they are very, very good.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 11:50:29

How can you buy them online? I thought you needed an optician to measure you with special equipment? Are the prices a lot cheaper and if so by how much?

Thymeout Tue 22-Oct-13 12:02:59

I went for Boot's 30 day trial deal. Chose the most expensive option - but gave up in despair. Felt incredibly unsafe while crossing roads, reversing the car etc. Basically, it felt as if I'd lost some peripheral vision. Seemed counterintuitive to want to take off glasses when doing something glasses were meant to help me do better.

No problem with Boot's. They returned my money. Gave me new distance and reading glasses, lenses and frames, and about £200 refund on the difference in price.

No idea if Zeiss lenses would be significantly better, but you should have a prescription, so don't need to get eyes tested again.

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 12:08:41

i wasn't aware of negative feedback about Specsavers lenses on forums but I guess it really depends which lenses you go for. There is a huge difference between the vision from the standard "cheap" lenses and the top of the range ones. The cheaper lenses have a larger area of blur at the edges. In fitting my varifocals, the assistant took measurements at about nine different points of my vision and marked these on the lenses. not sure how they would do that online, and also I've had to go back in store for adjustments.

They are certainly a lot cheaper. I managed to get my last pair for around half the price of what Boots wanted to charge me.

When you buy varifocals from the optician all they do is sit opposite you and place a 'dot' on your glasses using a felt pen, roughly in front of your eyes. I've had this done at almost every opticians I've ever been to. I've never had any specialised equipment being used on me! My grandson works at a local opticians on Saturdays and he was the one who advised me to get them online!

Well, when you buy on the internet you have to do this yourself. I find the best way is to put the glasses on and do the 'dot' thing in front of a mirror. Some companies don't even ask for this but from what I've been told, it's always best to do this so that they can make the glasses correctly.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:18:44

Thanks Thymeout. I might give boots a call and find out prices for their Zeiss lenses. I just had if confirmed by an optician on anothef forum that the Zeiss lenses would be the best. Just need to get them for a good price. If Boots offer a guarantee and can sell them cheaper then I might have found an answer to my dilemma!

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:19:59

...oops sorry about the typos.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:26:06

@bluebell99 - Just googled 'specsavers varifocal problems' and the results are very worrying. Do the same with Boots and there seem to be very few problems.

http://www.eyewearglasses.co.uk/buy-varifocal-glasses-online

Used them twice before and was very impressed. Got my current varilux lenses from them. They do Zeiss lenses, very cheap and they also do the lens only replacement service you asked about.

Probably a bit unfair to compare 'Googling' about problems between Boots and Specsavers as more people probably buy from Specsavers than Boots. Also, most people only report the bad stuff, never the good

ChuffMuffin Tue 22-Oct-13 12:44:16

OP please get your first pair of varifocals from an opticians, not online. You'll need to be measured for the lenses (not something you can do accurately yourself) and you'll need to be taught how to use them by the optician. Plus if you don't get on with them after a period of time (most people do but not everybody does), some opticians will do you a distance/reading pair for free, I doubt an online shop will.

Did you go to Vision Express for the £470 Zeiss varifocals? Vision Express are incredibly expensive. Have a look around with your prescription, your local Opticians, places like Tesco, Specsavers etc. Make sure to find out what their policy is if you don't get on with the varifocals too, ie will they do you a reading and distance pair and if so will they charge?

smile

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:52:30

@mavisfromcorrie - I see what you mean about the comparison. You're right, it's probably a bit unfair.

Thanks for the link though. Just got off the phone to eyewearglasses. Looks very promising and their prices are very cheap. Much closer to what my budget will allow. They also give the same warranty. They said they can put the lenses into my current frame while I wear my old ones. Still a bit nervous doing it online though.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 13:04:41

@ChuffMuffin - I did shop around for Zeiss lenses but even Specsavers wanted an arm and a leg for the lenses my optician recommended.

When I rung Tesco the man on the other end of the telephone said that he'd never even heard of Zeiss lenses! Very worrying.

I've called two online companies who both give the warranty guarantee that the opticians give. Although I'm slightly nervous about doing this with an online company there seem to be many good reviews from people who have done it this way before. Also if it means saving around £250 then it could be worth doing. Especially if they offer the same warranty.

familyoffour12 Tue 22-Oct-13 13:51:01

http://local.mumsnet.com/surrey/opticians/126446-eyewear-glasses

Have you tried these people?

PoshPenny Tue 22-Oct-13 14:09:58

I bought my first pair of varifocals last month and they cost similar to what you're looking at spending. I don't think I had Zeiss lenses, my main concern is to get the thinnest lenses possible and that is what drives my decisions. also in glass as they don't scratch so easily and therefore last me longer. I use an independent opticians and have been going there for about 25 years. maybe ask what alternatives they have to Zeiss and would they recommend them? I have found the varifocals to be very good, I think they worked out at an extra £150 over standard lenses, but I am pleased with the result.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 14:12:40

@familyoffour12 - Thanks, I've already spoken to them today as they were recommended by someone else. I'm sending my frame to them so they can fit Zeiss lenses. Thanks for all the advice everyone x

EeTraceyluv Tue 22-Oct-13 14:18:25

I got two pairs of varifocals from specsavers for £229. Still thought that was stupidly expensive but I actually find them brilliant. Off to google problems now sad

RafflesWay Tue 22-Oct-13 14:36:28

You can have a new eye test with any optician and they are legally obliged to provide you with a written prescription. Should cost around £10 - £15. Then have a look at Selectspecs - www.Selectspecs.com.
I did this having never had Varifocals before. Got a super designer pair for £126 including frame but you can opt for more expensive ones if you prefer. Can highly recommend from personal experience. Not sure if they do Zeiss lenses but do you really need these anyway so long as the prescription is correct?

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 15:21:32

Too many negative threads on consumer forums about selectspecs. I've spoken to a few online companies today and only 2 really stood out. I've already agreed to send one of them my frame so that they can put Zeiss lenses in them. But thanks anyway x

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 16:39:25

Come back and tell us how you get on with them smile How much are the ones you are going for?

Bunbaker Wed 23-Oct-13 00:02:27

"How can you buy them online? I thought you needed an optician to measure you with special equipment? Are the prices a lot cheaper and if so by how much?"

Stay away from online varifocals. They have to be fitted by a qualified optician so they can be lined up exactly.

mayhew Wed 23-Oct-13 13:07:58

Another vote for Specsavers. I found their service and products just as good as those costing twice as much. My current ones are from Glasses Direct just because I liked the frames. Specsavers were happy to give me all the measurements for me to have them made.

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