Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Seeing eye to eye

I went to Tesco yesterday to check out the prices of their specs, and browse over the frames they have, to see if there were any that took my fancy. It's that time again. I had an eye test at Specsavers in July but didn't purchase any at the time, preferring to do it when I was ready. It takes me two or three visits before I can make the decision on which frames to have, and I will not be rushed into anything.

I have £58.50 worth of Tesco vouchers, and with the promotion they have at the moment I can double that in the specs department, so worth a look. I picked out a frame which appealed to me, and showed the optician my prescription. My eyesight is very poor so I need quite a strong prescription, and because of that I pay extra for extra thin, varifocal lenses. This limits the style of frames I can have.

The optician couldn't give me a definate price because she didn't seem to know which type of varifocal lenses would be best for me. Choice of four from £45 Basics, to £159 Made for you. Or whether I needed Thin and Lite, Supathin, or Ultrathin lenses, ranging from £40 to £90. Then they have a 2 for 1 offer, but that makes it a whole lot more complicated, I won't bore you with that. Another thing I was surprised about is that the frames on display are the only sizes they do. They don't measure the distance across the bridge of your nose, and can't order them, so if you try a pair on that you like and they don't fit, tough.

I decided to go away and think about it, but my instincts tell me to go back to Specsavers. They have a lot more choice, and you get measured, and the specs can be adjusted to ensure they are right for you.

I've been having a sort out today, and look what I've found, my old specs from many years ago. Look at the difference between those from the early seventies, to the present day. What massive Deidre Barlow bottle bottoms I wore, like a couple of saucers on my face.

They were heavy, plastic, no nose pads, and thick lenses. I could never stop them from slipping down my face. I hated wearing them, they have come a long way since then thank goodness. Compare the then, and now.

You can see the thickness in the lens in this shot, like the bottom of a beer bottle, I got called all kinds of horrible names. I often wanted to chuck them away.

Those who don't have to wear specs will never know how lucky they are. I must have paid out a fortune in my life time for specs, then later contact lenses. Yes we had the National Health specs when I was at school, but there was a stigma attached to wearing them, everyone knew you couldn't afford a nice pair. Then when I started working I saved up and paid for some more fashionable frames like these.

Then I went onto gold rimmed ones, but they were very heavy and the pads made dents on each side of my nose.

Eventually technology moved forward and thinner, varifocal lenses came in, what a relief that was. But of course they came at an extra cost, these were £300. I couldn't really afford it but at last I felt they were ok and didn't mind wearing them.

These are the specs I wear now, small and lightweight. They are starting to look a bit jaded, it would be nice to have some new ones.

My next plan is to take the specs I had before these back to Specsavers, and ask how much it would cost to change the lenses to the new prescription. I've got some checking out to do before I part with any cash.


  1. We have Lenscrafters here in the States - like Specsavers. I only wear glasses for reading and only pay a dollar for those at the dollar store - my eye doctor said that was quite ok. Do you get a free eye exam un the NHS ? My brother wore NHS glasses at school back in the 50s - they really were awful especially as one was always taped across with elastoplast because he had a lazy eye. He hated it an the other kids made fun but my parents just could nt afford decent one for him.
    Have you thought about contacts - maybe they would be cheaper.
    I think if you want to get new glasses go to a optical store like above rather than a supermarket.

  2. Hi, I always read and enjoy your blog. I just thought I'd mention that there are charities that collect old specs of any type, size and age and they get re-used (I think they get sent out to needy folk in Africa and Asia). I dont know a lot about it but my opticians took my really old frames and my daughters and sent them on - May be worth asking Specsavers if they do this or have a search in Google. Thats if you dont want to keep them all !!
    BW AnnBB

  3. The last couple of times my husband had a change of prescription he has just had the lenses put into his old frames and its worked well. That was until he stood on them on holiday and they were past repairing!

  4. I find it strange that it is almost cheaper to have new glasses than have lenses put in old ones, and they won't guarantee. I've gone through the mill with glasses, do you remember those upswept ones with nothing underneath? Probably not, you're a few years younger than me.

    Nowadays I don't mind wearing specs although I hated them as I wore then from 8 years old and thought I was ugly because I wore glasses. I wore contact lenses in the mid 60s to about 10 years ago and still have a pair, yet unchecked by SS, as sometimes I just can't be bothered to put them in. The new ones are much larger than they used to be and I have trouble both getting them in and taking them out, which is an artform in itself.

    Yes, I can remember all those glasses. I had a pair of plastic lenses Ilona, you will like this one - they were rather like a twin-screen Foden truck!!!

  5. We are about the same age, altho' I could never read the blackboard from the back of the classroom, it was not picked up that I needed specs until I was 16, but my specs choices were pretty much like yours. I need to get tested and get some new ones, I have great trouble fitting my hearing aid and specs behind my diddy ears, so hopefully will find some new ones that will help. Loved reading about your recent travels, well done. I can't walk far now, but am pleased that we have walked in Lake District, Derbyshire, Dales and Moors in Yorkshire, no-one can takeaway the good memories even if the body is giving out. Ali.

  6. I only paid for lenses last time I went to the optician and asked if they could be put in a pair of glasses I had already, (The glasses I bought at the Charity Shop for 50p.) so altogether I paid £64. The time before that I had the lenses put in my old frames.
    Love from Mum

  7. I favour the Olive on the buses look. Bet you don't have a pair of those LOL

  8. I have to wear glasses all the time and go for bifocals. The problem I have when buying new ones is that I can't see what the new frames look like when I'm trying to choose a new pair! Sally

  9. To anonymous, above; in Specsavers they have little webcam things. You try on a pair you like, take the photo, then put your normal glasses on so you can see yourself in them!! :)

    £58.50 in Tesco vouchers - Blimey!! Might be worth checking out the glasses, although I always need them adjusting so they could become uncomfortable if they're not specially made for you.

    It's great that lenses can be so much thinner now! I get the non-reflecty lenses so that I can drive more easily at night.

    I've heard that there are much cheaper ways to get glasses though. You can take your prescription and order them online. I'm not sure if they take face measurements or not though, but they're much cheaper.

  10. I have two day old new glasses from Specsavers from their lightweight range which I can really recommend. They're called Titan and are funky and comfortable. I also got a new pair of reading glasses by Osiris with little roses on the arms. Must post about them soon. x

  11. I think if I were you I would go back to Specsavers, the measuring and tailoring to fit is pretty important if you have to be comfortable wearing your glasses all the time.

    Also the supermarkets are going to put smaller opticians out of business, as they have done with other shops, if we continue to get all sundry services from them. I boycott all the 'extra' shopping facilities and indeed am boycotting supermarkets virtually completely next year.

    I am very lucky in that I had my eyes 'lasered' a couple of years ago and now only have to wear glasses for reading.

    Sue xx

  12. Like Sue, I had my eyes lasered because it worked out cheaper than buying glasses over a few years. The reading glasses I have are just cheapo non prescription from the drug store.
    I used to wear the HUGE glasses too....covered most of my flipping face!!
    Jane x

  13. If you do go to Specsavers (and I'd +1 the suggestions of going there to get, hopefully, better fitting care because that's key for me), it might be worth asking around if anyone you know has bought glasses from a Specsavers recently -- the ones near me have been giving out "golden ticket" vouchers, which are worth 25% off for a friend. The Specsavers near me told me that if my friend bought glasses from that small local branch in December, the discount would be 50%.

    It's only off frames in the £69 or above range, but I got a 50% discount on my last pair with one of those vouchers (long story) and it meant for me that I could get a better set of frames for the price of their cheapest range -- and there is a very noticeable difference in quality with the hinges/fit.

    Even if you can't get a voucher, it might be worth holding off until December and visiting a smaller, quieter Specsavers - they might all have extra special money off promotions to get people through the doors that month.

    (And related to that, for people who have to pay for eye tests: my quiet Specsavers also offers much cheaper tests during the week/at other quiet times than at the weekend.)

  14. Another tip from a four-eyes here - have a look at Glasses Direct. Cheapest frames -with lenses - are £19 ! Have a rummage.
    (NB- sorry to be 'anonymous'. I'm really Auntie Doris but I can't get it to put that on!)

  15. Hi Auntie Doris, thank you for your great tip, I'm sure that will be very usefull for a lot of people. Unfortunately I couldn't buy a new pair of specs without having several visits to a an optician, to try on almost every available pair, then narrowing it down to just a few, then finally deciding which frames I would feel comfortable about wearing. Even then I would probably hate them.

    Buying specs is one thing I cannot scrimp on. You probably haven't read my previous posts about my Body Dismorphic Disorder, BDD, but how I look is so very important to me. I have grown up with hating my face, and the more I can do to divert attention away from it the better. So you see, the specs have to be right.

    I will keep looking out for the offers at Specsavers louisa, and thank you lovelygrey I will look for those names. Lightweight and good fitting is very important. I have tried the webcam thingy Bryallen, it is very usefull.

  16. Its amazing the difference from then till now. Wow! And good luck with getting a good deal on a new pair.

  17. Have you thought of selling your old specs on eBay? The larger 80s ones are now considered retro and quite trendy. My mum sold something similar last year and got £10 for them - went towards the cost of her new frames.

    Selectspecs is a good online place for glasses as is Zenni Optical and I think I also got some from a place called Lensway

  18. Went to tesco today drawn in by the free eye test. Came away very miffed, didnt understand what I needed or just how expensive it would be !! I am going to go back to specsavers for a second opinion as tesco mentioned how the police are cracking down I've never been told I needed glasses for driving only computer use so I am really concerned, when I asked what the legal limit was I couldnt get a straight answer...

  19. i had eyetest at specsavers & got my prescription, i haven't purchase at the time. I just browse frames and the frame i select that costs me £99. It so expensive so i try online, similar frame cost me just £29 Buying online is cheap..!

  20. If you go to dragon specs on ebay then you can get new lenses put into your frames, starting from £15, 1.67 lenses only £22!

    I bought a pair of Missoni designer frames on ebay for only £4.20 - whereas in Specsavers they're £125!

    As for Specsavers - haggle! I managed to get a further 10% off on top of the 25% off golden ticket (which I got off ebay) NHS voucher, and free 1.67 reactor light lenses - all for £70. Down from the original price of £200!