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    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 11th Oct 05, 1:07 PM
    • 8,115Posts
    • 42,285Thanks
    MSE Martin
    0 WOW
    Great Cheap Glasses Hunt
    • #1
    • 11th Oct 05, 1:07 PM
    0 WOW
    Great Cheap Glasses Hunt 11th Oct 05 at 1:07 PM
    Glasses? Are you going to a party?

    No, not that kind of glasses. The eyewear kind. Just as it's possible to cut the cost of contact lenses by buying online, there's no need to pay over the top high street prices.

    What do I do?

    I'd like to tap the wealth of MoneySavers knowledge to help find and collate a list of where to go, online and offline, to cut the cost of buying spectacles. Click reply to add your find.

    Related Articles:

    Contact Lenses: a visible saving
    Cheaper prescriptions and medications
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

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Page 1
  • RufusA
    • #2
    • 11th Oct 05, 1:45 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Oct 05, 1:45 PM
    To start the ball rolling.

    Based in Hongkong, but in my experience glasses were of a very good standard (rimless titanium and "designer" shades), and arrived within around 7 days of ordering with no duty or VAT to pay on import. They were also responsive to any questions I asked prior to placing an order.

    One or two MSErs have noted that they are less responsive when things go wrong, and like some of the cheap online suppliers they don't cover you against postal damage or repay the return postage on faulty items!

    After ordering I liked the glasses so much I asked if MSErs could have a discount which they kindly obliged by offering 6% off (min spend $60).

    HTH - Rufus.
  • brinky
    • #3
    • 11th Oct 05, 4:54 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Oct 05, 4:54 PM
    My father and I have bought several pairs from

    Every pair have been absolutely spot on. Register for a newsletter and you get a free tint or free antireflection coating ( a fancy anti refelection coating with UV and EMR filter built in).

    Glasses are made in Bolton and generally returned within a week.

    I have had less satisfactory experience with other companies. Please IM me if you want to know which ones.
    • fatboyonadiet
    • By fatboyonadiet 12th Oct 05, 2:02 PM
    • 5,310 Posts
    • 2,250 Thanks
    • #4
    • 12th Oct 05, 2:02 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Oct 05, 2:02 PM
    I used maybe not the cheapest but cheap for designer frames, also had a policy with HealthSure which paid for all but 35 of my new glasses!
    Last edited by Former MSE Andrea; 13-10-2005 at 4:19 PM.
    2p off is still 2p off!
  • chateau42
    • #5
    • 12th Oct 05, 4:29 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Oct 05, 4:29 PM
    Think has been mentioned previously. Have purchased prescription reading glasses twice. Both superb at 15 each + 2.50 postage. This month had eyes tested at High Street chain, showed them and they were grabbed out of my hand to test, both for durability and for prescription correctness. Passed, reluctantly I guess. 15 the cheapest but reasonable range, tinted, bendable, multi-vision. Catalogue available. Have tried most high street opticians, glasses expensive and, for me, don't last. Not into designer stuff but these are superb.
    Last edited by Former MSE Andrea; 13-10-2005 at 4:20 PM.
    The moving finger, having writ, moved on.
    • layces
    • By layces 12th Oct 05, 4:35 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    • #6
    • 12th Oct 05, 4:35 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Oct 05, 4:35 PM
    I have just bought Varilux varifocals with antireflection coating including frames for about 120 delivered from the US. Delivery took about a week and I am delighted with the quality. The link to the company is You need to fill in details from your prescription and the site takes you through all the options with helpful details on the choices. Highly recommended!
    Last edited by layces; 12-10-2005 at 4:46 PM.
    • koru
    • By koru 12th Oct 05, 5:12 PM
    • 1,355 Posts
    • 684 Thanks
    • #7
    • 12th Oct 05, 5:12 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Oct 05, 5:12 PM
    For a bricks and mortar alternative, so you can be sure what you are getting, Costco are really cheap. They have designer brands such as Dior, Calvin Klein, Armani. Prices vary, but they have a load of Calvin Klein frames, for instance, at about 40, including ordinary lenses. They have opticians on site, who do eye tests, if you need them.
    • prop
    • By prop 12th Oct 05, 5:16 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 05, 5:16 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 05, 5:16 PM
    I have bought a pair of designet style glasses with phtocromatic lenses from for $49. The price is in us$ but they are delivered from pakistan a bloke from work on my advice got a pair of clear glass ones for $12.
    You just put in your perscription and wait for them arriving. A Bargin!!

  • cat.jon
    • #9
    • 12th Oct 05, 6:41 PM
    Cheap glasses
    • #9
    • 12th Oct 05, 6:41 PM
    Can definitly reccmomend - paid 25 for prescription lenses and frames - no gimmicks or hidden extras, tho special lenses carry additional charge but still excellent value and quality. Prices start at 15, and go up to about 65 for designer dkny glasses. Web site and catalogue give all measurements, can even try glasses virtually via web site. Company state reasons for cheapness as having no high street overheads, or resident opticians to pay - they just manufacture and dispatch glasses.
    Very pleased with this service - will definitly use them again.
    • Gillyches
    • By Gillyches 12th Oct 05, 8:32 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 5 Thanks
    Thanks for the tip!
    I have just bought Varilux varifocals with antireflection coating including frames for about 120 delivered from the US. Delivery took about a week and I am delighted with the quality. The link to the company is You need to fill in details from your prescription and the site takes you through all the options with helpful details on the choices. Highly recommended!
    by layces
    I have just ordered a pair of Varilux varifocals with the coating using your tip... I am pleased to be able to spend SO much less than they would have cost me in the UK by the usual methods. I had my eyes test two weeks ago and was dithering about whether to take the plunge and get the prescription. Up to now I've had decent long distance vision and just bought reading glasses from Sainsbury's for about 16 and they have been great. However, as I'm getting older my eyes have deteriorated and I was shocked at the price quoted!

    I am looking forward (no pun intended) to seeing (and again) what they are like. Thanks muchly for the tip!!! ;-)
  • donnabythegreen
    cheap glasses
    Try for complete prescription glasses from 15.00
    I ordered mine on the tuesday night and recieved them on friday morning. I would recommend them to anyone
    • paws17
    • By paws17 12th Oct 05, 11:46 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 26 Thanks
    Free Eye test voucher for D&A in Nat. Trust magazine
    Before you buy that natty pair of designer spex on-line you'll be needing a free eye test courtesy of those very nice people down at Dollond & Aitchison.

    See P13 of the latest National Trust magazine (Autumn edition - No 106) for the voucher - plus 50% off frames when you buy their Nikon lenses to go with a frame. ( for nearest branch)

    (P.S. Don't believe all the hype you'll get about the stunning quality of Nikon lenses, BTW. They scratch - period - and if you take issue with them, they'll just remind you that "they are made of plastic, Sir.")

  • kalico
    Never ordered from them but look ok. From 15.
    Last edited by Former MSE Andrea; 13-10-2005 at 4:21 PM.
  • kalico
    Can anyone clarify the situation with Customs when buying specs from the USA or China etc? (or anything else for that matter, but specs may be classed differently).

    I understood that 'importing' goods worth more than about 32 gives rise to duty. Also, if it is deemed that duty is payable, then many courier firms will automatically pay on your behalf and then will not release the goods until you pay them the duty.

    Anyone else with experience of this?
  • silps
    Specsavers BOGOF
    Specsavers tend to do a buy one get one free every summer. So a couple of months ago we got a pair of eye glasses and a free pair of prescription sunglasses free. They will let you have anything from the starting price for the offer upto the designer ranges. After looking and trying all the ranges we surprisingly prefered the cheaper 85 range, so two pairs for 85.

    They have a digital monitor which you can take a snapshot of yourself wearing the frames and compare upto 4 different shots to see which one you like. This is great because when your trying the frames on they obviously don't have your prescription lenses so it is hard to see what you look like in a mirror.

    Just checked their website and they are still running the offer:

    Two for One
    Our Two for One offer is available on glasses from our 75, 85 or 99 ranges and now includes PENTAX lenses at no extra cost. You can either choose two matching pairs or different styles, as long as they are both from the same price range. Your free second pair will be fitted with the same PENTAX single vision, bifocal or varifocal lenses as your first pair, to the same prescription. Extra options are available for both pairs at an additional
    Last edited by silps; 13-10-2005 at 1:08 AM.
  • Mary Fisher
    I want a cheap source of x2 and x3 lenses, preferably round. NOTprescription lenses, just magnifying, with no frames.

  • AmyFlo
    Mixed users
    I wear glasses and contact lenses. Glasses for daytime & work and lenses for evenings out and when I am doing sports (or if it is raining and I am sick of wiping my glasses!)
    Because I get Specsavers lenses and pay on Direct Debit I get half price on some of thier glasses range (I think it has to be from the 70 or above range though). So far they are the cheapest glasses that I have found.
    • Matilda
    • By Matilda 13th Oct 05, 8:44 AM
    • 16 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Going to Bangkok or Beijing?
    I've always got new glasses when passing through Bangkok, with great results. There are lots of opticians on Petchburi Road - pick the frames you want and bargain - you ought to be able to get about 25-35% off the asking price. I have always paid about 40-50 for designer frames with scratch-resistant and anti-glare coatings. It usually takes about a day.

    There is also a shopping centre (mall) about a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport - if you are staying at an airport hotel the front desk will know. I got glasses made there a year ago in an hour.

    I'm told Beijing is also good but have never tried it.
  • sparkles
    I am currently looking to buy some new glasses. My current ones are zeiss lenses and cost 400.00.
    I really cannot afford to pay that again.
    I was wondering if anyone knows if I can get them cheaper online anywhere?
    Also wondering if pentax and hoya lense can have the same thinness as zeiss?
  • RufusA
    Regarding Customs (VAT and Import Duty), for a definitive answer you need to contact your local Customs and Excise office for advice.

    However generally speaking spectacles (either prescription or sunglasses) have a 2.9% duty and 17.5% VAT rate. EXCEPT that prescription glasses are a little more complex.

    When buying glasses in the UK there are 2 elements which make up the price, the first is the cost of the raw materials (frame, lens material etc.) plus profit on them, the second is the skill of the optician to assemble them and ensure they are correct for your prescription the "dispensing element" + profit. In the UK it could be that 70% of the cost is dispensing and only 30% is materials. Look at a VAT receipt from a highstreet purchase for an idea of breakdown.

    Dispensing is VAT exempt! So for a 100 purchase of glasses in the UK you would only pay say 17.5% on just 30 of that.

    For imported spectacles I have no idea how C&E would determine the dispensing element and apportion VAT. I strongly suspect that on even 70 spectacles taking in to account dispensing there would be insufficient VAT or Duty to make it worth their while to collect.

    In my experience I have yet to be charged either Import Duty or VAT on mail order glasses. Even if you were hit in full with these, plus a handling fee from the Royal Mail IMHO it would still be a substantial saving on the UK highstreet prices.

    YMMV - Rufus.
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