How to save money on a new glasses prescription

Don't buy expensive new frames when your old pair will do, writes Rebecca Smithers


I was thrilled to discover my 25-year-old classic Ray-Ban sunglasses in a drawer recently - particularly as my long-lost shades appeared (miraculously) to be back at the height of fashion.

But I was not so chuffed when I took them to my optician and asked for them to be fitted with my current prescription, only to be told that they were "too old" to replace the lenses and that I should choose some new frames instead.

I insisted that I wanted to keep the old frames - although they were a bit scratched, they were certainly not on their last legs. In the end they relented. This week I collected my reconditioned glasses, forking out only £60 for the new lenses and saving myself a couple of hundred pounds for brand new frames that I didn't even want.


I am not the only one to have been put under such pressure. Consumers are being warned that they wasting millions of pounds a year after being persuaded by opticians to order new frames every time they change their spectacles prescriptions. Indeed, the many "two for one" deals on frames that are common on most high streets are even described as a manipulative marketing tool designed to shift stock rather than serve any useful practical and medical purpose.

Chris Tomlinson, of online optics company Ciliary Blue, says: "There is far more money to be made from glasses frames than the lenses they get fitted with, so the high-street chains push people into buying as many frames as possible. Very few people need two pairs of glasses at a time and they certainly don't need to buy even more frames every time their prescription needs updating. The high-street chains want us to think that a new prescription means new glasses, but that's not the case. They would never give you the option to simply re-use the frames you already have and just update the lenses."


Ciliary Blue offers a reglazing service from £15, and for an extra £5 frames can be made to look as good as new.

Tomlinson adds: "Reglazing is seen as a dirty word in the optics industry. Encouraging people to recycle what they already have isn't a profitable business-model."

The General Optical Council, the regulatory body for optometrists in the UK, says that if consumers believed they had been on the receiving end of unnecessary sales practices from a GOC member, they should lodge a formal complaint via

Consumer group Which? says huge savings can be made by buying glasses and contact lenses online rather than from traditional retail outlets: bear in mind that you don't need to be locked into an arrangement with the optician who tested your eyes. If you find a pair of frames that you like in an opticians other than your regular one, or you want to buy online, the optician who has tested your eyes is obliged to pass on your prescription details.