Buying Glasses In France
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Buying Glasses In France
If you want to buy a pair of spectacles or contact lenses in France, then, strictly speaking, you can only do so directly through an optician, and only then once you have first been prescribed glasses by an ophthalmologist.
The sentiment is to be applauded, but if the government were genuinely interested in the welfare of patients, many argue they might do more to improve the level of reimbursement from the French health service for prescription glasses and contact lenses. There is a yawning gap between what you have to pay the optician, and what you receive back from the health system.
This has not stopped the opticians from continuing to charge often extravagant prices for glasses, and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of customers being persuaded to buy more expensive specially treated glasses that are rarely warranted in daily use.
With the continuing increase in prices, a small number of brave French entrepreneurs have set up web sites selling glasses. These sites include Confortvisuel, Directoptic, Easy-verres, Happyview, and Mavue-online.
Nevertheless, some caution is also needed, as these policies are often a lucrative source of revenue for the opticians, who are able to use them to prescribe glasses and frames to customers that may well exceed their needs.
What to do Assuming you speak the local language good enough to get by (a must in most of France), you need to make your way somehow back to your hotel or flat all squinty-eyed, call an eye doctor and set an appointment to get new eyeglasses prescriptions.
My absolute best advice and easiest thing you should do is simply bring an extra pair of eyeglasses with you. Even better, bring two extra pairs. I always order four pairs of glasses for my son, who is pretty rough on his glasses.
To give you an example of the cost savings, I usually buy four pairs of glasses for my son for under 100 dollars with shipping. Shipping usually takes about 7 to 14 days, depending on where I am. I have no idea how they do it, but the quality of the glasses seems to be just as good as the glasses I buy from local retailers.
In a survey carried out several years ago by the consumer magazine Que Choisir prescription glasses in France were found to be the most expensive in Europe, mainly because there were too many opticians; due to low turnover the opticians were required to take a large gross margin to cover their fixed costs.
If the level of correction is the same in both eyes, even without a prescription the opticians normally offer cheaper unbranded spectacles in the store, although they do not go out of their way to advertise them. Whilst they may not be ones you would want to be seen wearing at a beachside restaurant in Cannes, they should be all you need for a book at bedtime! And, of course, non-prescription glasses are also available on-line.
That does sound like here. Smaller opticians charge about $1000 for my no-line bifocals. The same glasses at a chain store are more like $450. The difference in the price of the frames is usually about $100. Insurance pays about $250 off the chain store price, and only about $120 off the small boutique optician. Then there's that website, Parker Warby or whatever it is, which has full glasses for $100 (regular) or $300 (noline bifocals)
Thanks WEQueen! I may stop in and see if there are any frames I like. But no exaggeration, I currently own about 8 sets of my favorite Dior frames, so I'm well stocked right now. I found out my favorite glasses were being discontinued so I went online and bought all the frames I could find. So I really should avoid any opticians.
In France, you are not obliged to visit your doctor to ask for a referral to an ophthalmologist. If you already wear glasses or contacts, and are due an eye test, you can make an appointment directly with your ophthalmologist of choice.
If you have recently received a prescription (ordonnance) for glasses from an opthalmologue, it remains va