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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

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

FryOneFatManic Mon 21-Jan-13 14:30:22

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.

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?

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.

MackerelOfFact Mon 21-Jan-13 12:48:23

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!

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 21-Jan-13 10:00:08

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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

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...?

browneyedpixie Mon 21-Jan-13 08:28:52

Not unreasonable at all!!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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