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How to get the best deals on glasses - Part One

Posted 13 February 2016

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Want to know how to bag yourself the best deals on glasses? This blog is for you.

On Thursday, we showed you how to get your eye test for free, or at least cheaper than full price. Today, we’re going to show you how to get the best deals on glasses so that your spectacle savings are complete!

Now, you’ve had the eye test done, you’re ready to get a new pair of specs. But there are so many different options to choose from, all kinds of frames and lenses, and then there’s the extras you can add too – it can get a little overwhelming. And, once you start adding all the extra bits on, it can start to get a bit expensive too, if you don’t keep an eye on the cost creeping up.

So, in this two part blog here’s our advice on where to go to get the best deals on your glasses. But before we move on, here’s a little guide to the different lenses available.

What to buy?   

There are a number of lenses you can choose from. Which you’ll need, want, or can have, will depend on your prescription, your budget and your personal preferences. You can choose from:

Photochromatic – this can add approximately £50 - £70 to the cost of your glasses. You’re probably more familiar with the term ‘Reactions’ or ‘Transitions’, as these are the tradenames for lenses that change colour in bright weather, turning darker when exposed to ultraviolet light (UV). So, remember, if you choose these lenses, they will change colour when there’s no visible sun, as it’s the ultraviolet levels that make a difference, not the sunshine. So, you could be out and about on an overcast day, with high levels of UV, and your glasses will look like sunglasses – just something to keep in mind.

These are useful if you don’t fancy paying for a pair of sunglasses with prescription lenses in them. But, you do have to be careful if you’re using them for driving, as moving from a sunny environment into a shaded one, like from the open road into a tunnel, can be a problem. This is because the lenses don’t change back to transparent all that quickly. In fact, many opticians will advise against using photochromatic lenses for driving for this very reason.         

Polarised lenses – this addition can bump up the cost by £60 or more. Polarising the lenses darkens them, much like sunglasses, but the polarisation actually cuts out glare, by filtering out reflected light. This could be useful if you spend a lot of time working on computers, or by the water or in snowy areas, where the glare from the sun may be too much. They can also help with driving and are recommended instead of Reactions if you drive a lot.  

Thinner, lighter lenses – these will add between £40 and £90 to the cost. This process is only going to be of use if you have a strong prescription, which means your lenses are going to be rather thick, as this can create a number of issues. The first is distortion, thicker lenses can sometimes distort your vision, although this is not all that common. The second two are purely about how you look – thicker lenses can make your eyes look small and, if you want to have a specific pair of glasses that have rather thin frames, they’ll stick out quite a lot and may not look all that nice. And third, the process helps to keep the lenses lighter so that your glasses are more comfortable on your face.   

Vari- or Bifocals – these can range from £49 up to over £500, depending on the provider and the quality of the lens. Again, this option will only be for those who need two different prescriptions – one for close work and one for distance. Basically, these two options stop the requirement for you to have two different pairs of specs. The only difference is that one, bifocal, has a clear line between the close and distance parts of the lens, and the varifocal has a blended line, so you can’ see it. Which you want is, again purely dependent on whether you’re bothered about people seeing the line.


Once you’ve decided on the type of lens you want, or need, it’s time to think about coating and tints and any other added extras you may need. Now, some of these may only be available at certain opticians, or they may have a different name to what you see here, but most major opticians will have these options available. Some are usually included in the price, others you will have to pay extra for.  These include:

Anti-scratch coating – this coating is often included in the price, but if added on it could be from £30 upwards. The benefits of this addition are pretty obvious and shouldn’t need any explanation, but may not be of any real use to you if you wear your glasses all day. It is a great addition if you only have reading glasses, and you’re constantly taking them off and putting them on again, as the potential for them to get scratched is very high. The major benefit is on cost, as once your glasses are scratched you’ll have to get them replaced entirely.

Anti-reflective coating – this is another of those coatings that is pretty much always added as standard, in with the price. But, if you did have to pay for it, it’d be about £20. It acts a bit like polarising, however, it doesn’t reduce the glare like polarised lenses do.

Sun tint and UV – add this on and you’ll be looking at a further £24-ish. It’s a tinted coating that acts a bit like a pair of sunglasses, but not so dark. It also has UV protection built into it. It can help you see clearly in all weather conditions, softening bright lights, which can help relieve eye strain.   

Driving tint – this could add about £30 to your bill. It’s designed to help you see sharper in daytime driving. It does this by blocking out UV and blur light too. And, in case, you’re wondering, it won’t affect how you see other colours, like traffic lights.    

Coloured Tints – these can add about £20 to the cost. There are tints of all colours – from green to rose. Whilst most people will choose a colour just because they rather like it, the tints can serve a purpose too. So, you might fancy a blue lens to be on trend, but as well as being fashionable, you’re improving your colour perception, helping to define colours more and reducing glare. And your rose colour specs not only help you see the world as a better place, they’ll also improve visual depth, reduce eye strain and offer the greatest amount of contrast. Here’s a great chart to show you how the different tints can help with different activities – Sunglasses Lens Colour Guide.         

Now you’ve decided on what kind of lens and the extras you want, it’s time to choose your frames – this is the fun part. Do you go for designer or own brand frames? What style should you choose? And where you should buy them from are all covered in this next section.

Designer or not?

Is it really worth paying extra for designer frames? Well, this is simply a matter of taste, as the quality of the actual frames is, probably, no better or worse than all the other brands you’re looking at. This is because designers don’t actually make any frames themselves, they just lend their name and brand to the frame, adding value to it that way. The performance of the frame will be about the same as non-designer brands. It works much the same as designer clothes – an Asda pair of jeans might cost you £15, the same pair of jeans with a fancy fashion brand’s label stitched on the back will increase that price tag considerably.

Perhaps what’s more important than the designer name on the frame is whether the shape, colour and size suit you or not. A great pair of glasses, no matter how much they cost, can make a real fashion statement. And because the designer name is usually only quite small, and often located on the arm of the frames, it’s unlikely that anyone will see it anyway.   

So, if you really like your labels, they’ll probably be worth it for you. And, with our help, you’ll be able to bag yourself a pair of designer specs at a bargain price anyway. 

by Shelley Bowers

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