Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I just returned from a visit with the eye doctor and both of us were given new prescriptions. Just on a whim, we walked into an optical place that was open on a Monday in our town.

My wife found rather inexpensive frames and of course new lenses. It blew my mind when they quoted the pricing three different ways with the cheapest price being 1,196€! That is $1,615.00 in dollars!! My lenses only, no frames were quoted in two different ways with the cheapest being 825€. That is $1,114.00! Rather interestingly, they quote you by each lens rather than a set as they would in the USA.

I scanned and emailed the RX to the place I bought my glasses years ago and asked the owner for a price to ship my glasses back, buy the lenses from him and have it returned to me. My frames were very expensive frames and were bought six years ago and are in perfect condition without the need to replace them.

Does anyone have an alternative solution or suggestion or advice about buying eye glasses or lenses here in France? Our mutual will cover something but as of yet, we don't know how much. My wife seems to feel it won't be very much. Thank you and regards!
 

·
Registered
From the US...lived in Canada, UK, & France
Joined
·
1,306 Posts
...
My wife found rather inexpensive frames and of course new lenses. It blew my mind when they quoted the pricing three different ways with the cheapest price being 1,196€! That is $1,615.00 in dollars!! My lenses only, no frames were quoted in two different ways with the cheapest being 825€. That is $1,114.00! Rather interestingly, they quote you by each lens rather than a set as they would in the USA...
I had a pair of glasses with no-line multi-focal lenses made for me in Paris at Jimmy Fairly. Beautiful frames that I dearly love. I think the whole thing (lenses and frames with thin lenses and scratch resistance) was about 350-450 euros, if I remember correctly. In addition, for each pair you buy, Jimmy Fairly donates a pair of glasses in Africa. I expect that there are cheaper places in the smaller villages and cities. You can find them at jimmyfairly.com/fr/

Best of luck.

Ray
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,806 Posts
Kaju knows of a place in China. My glasses arrived within a few days, frames and lenses, in a case, with a cloth, at a tiny fraction of the price here (sub 50E). If you PM him, I'm sure he'll give you the details - I've lost the contact details - sorry.

hils
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,414 Posts
Glasses are WAY more expensive in France than back in the US. I used to go back to the US to have my eye exams and glasses done up (paying for them myself) - but have since found that one of the "chain" opticians here in France has an agreement with the mutuelle that we are on, and basically I wind up getting my glasses for just the price of the "insurance" package (about 70€).

Depends, obviously, on the optician you use, but ask about the mutuelles they "work with." I've got a "weird" prescription and the glasses are quoted at an obscene price. I strongly suspect that the mutuelle pays the chain considerably less than the price I was quoted, but that's not my problem. I get my glasses for the cost of the "insurance" package. (They'll replace scratched lenses or broken frames, plus are supposed to offer annual checks to see whether your prescription has changed - though with my "weird" prescription they don't cover the check up.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,694 Posts
Kaju knows of a place in China. My glasses arrived within a few days, frames and lenses, in a case, with a cloth, at a tiny fraction of the price here (sub 50E). If you PM him, I'm sure he'll give you the details - I've lost the contact details - sorry.

hils
koppazee, I've been very happy with Zenni Optical - Eyeglasses, The best place to buy glasses - Prescription Glasses, Bifocal, Progressive, Rimless Eyeglasses for Men, Women & Kids Glasses - I've had more than half a dozen pairs from them over the past 5 or so years. Some of our local opticians charge like, well, wounded bulls I guess, but some also do online sales - but those are just getting their versions from the same place in China anyway and adding quite a healthy margin!

It's true you can't physically see them first, but if you take the time to measure your old glasses you can easily find something similar - or if you have a adventurous nature and a fashionista bent, try something new. You could even upload an image of your face and then try the glasses on that!

I do have private health insurance (works just the same as a mutuelle) and they give me about 250E allowance for each of my family per year - about enough to pay for 1 pair locally or maybe even not that much! So I use that as I'm paying for it anyway, but they won't pay for glasses from outside the country. Still, they're so cheap I don't care, so for any other glasses I get them from Zenni, for spare pairs, or prescription sunnys, etc.

Shipping is fast and cheap, I sometimes pay extra for quick delivery and it generally is quick - normal about 10 days or so, express about a week. The prices are good - I got some very nice frameless photochrormic glasses for about 42E including express shipping, and nice plain ones for less than 30E including shipping - and even the most expensive say bifocals with very thin lenses for very strong prescriptions with special fingerprint resistant coatings and tint will still come in maybe at 100E, mostly 'cause of the lens costs. Have a look, the choices and prices might surprise you...

I've been really pleased with the prices and service, so I'm happy to mention them. I have no other connection to them than as a client. Seems to me that sight is such a big thing that even a little improvement can be noticeable, so if you can get the right glasses cheaply, rather than hang on to older prescription ones, it can be a good thing. :)

It did feel a bit odd for my first order, buying without seeing them, but it worked fine, and once you do it, you get more confident that you've chosen something you like - and even if you're not sure, after all, it's not a huge financial risk!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would like to thank everyone for their input and suggestions. I emailed over to the shop in the US the RX from my French doctor to have a quote to replace my lenses while I strongly suspect my wife will find a place here in France to purchase her new eye glasses. Too bad the place in the link sent over for the online store back in the US doesn't do lens replacements. Again, thank you for all your help. Warm regards!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,414 Posts
You are aware, too, that prescriptions need to be "translated" from French standards to US ones? Last time I got my glasses back in the US, the optometrist said that the conversion is easy to do and most professionals know how to do it. But in some areas of the US they can only prepare lenses based on a US or even in-state prescription.

Before you try to get your glasses done back in the US (which may involve getting a local eye exam), just ask at Generale Optique, Grand Optical, Alain Affalou and any of the other large optician chains if they take your mutuelle. (Actually it's more like if they can direct bill to your mutuelle.) If they can, you may have little or nothing to pay on your glasses. (You can always turn down the insurance they offer - it's mostly for scratches and breakage anyhow.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,694 Posts
.....just ask at Generale Optique, Grand Optical, Alain Affalou and any of the other large optician chains if they take your mutuelle. (Actually it's more like if they can direct bill to your mutuelle.) If they can, you may have little or nothing to pay on your glasses. ....
Cheers,
Bev
Yes, that's what happens here if you have extras (same as mutuelle) cover. But if you want extra pairs or something unusual, you may need to go elsewhere sometimes.

Which brings me to...just as an aside... I do a spot of fishing and used to till very recently drive and ride very long distances for work, even by Australian standards. I'm not great at all with brightness and glare, so I was keen on polarised glasses but also like the photochromic ones, but they don't usually go together - but you can get them, for a price. I used my annual insurance cover for these last time, and they are very good. If you do a lot of driving or fishing or similar, they might be worth a look, I like them - but you may have to dig around to find them, they're called Drivewear, also Transitions Vantage, maybe other names too:
DrivewearWeb
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You are aware, too, that prescriptions need to be "translated" from French standards to US ones? Last time I got my glasses back in the US, the optometrist said that the conversion is easy to do and most professionals know how to do it. But in some areas of the US they can only prepare lenses based on a US or even in-state prescription. Before you try to get your glasses done back in the US (which may involve getting a local eye exam), just ask at Generale Optique, Grand Optical, Alain Affalou and any of the other large optician chains if they take your mutuelle. (Actually it's more like if they can direct bill to your mutuelle.) If they can, you may have little or nothing to pay on your glasses. (You can always turn down the insurance they offer - it's mostly for scratches and breakage anyhow.) Cheers, Bev
Thank you Bev. Your response was really helpful as I was under the impression that there was a universal standard in optometry. It was a foolish assumption on my part.

The last time my wife purchased glasses, she went to Alain Affalou. The good part of doing business with them was she was able to pay the glasses off over 12 payments. But the quality of her frames was not very good and the frames kept breaking. Plus she said that one of the lenses developed an issue with the "film" inside the lens where it became "cloudy" as she said. Of course, they took care of the issues but she is as blind as a bat without them and only had a pair of glasses with an outdated RX to use until they could effect the repairs. Sadly, many lenses including Varlux are no longer produced here but in China.

A rather interesting observation seems that there must be at least 15 or 20 optical shops in our "little" town. There are fewer hair places than optical places. The markups in eye glasses and lenses must be huge. Years ago back in the US, Consumer Reports did an article on the optical industry and how huge the markups actually were. It was a real eye opener for the consumer. Now the same feelings by the consumer in France is taking hold as well. There was a recent discussion on the radio my wife told me about as the government no longer wants to pay for this and is trying to push the mutuelles to cover more and more of the expenses. Then again, when I lived back in the US, any coverage by the insurance always seemed to be minimal at the very best and the only reason many optical shops accept the union or insurance coverage and all the hassles associated with their filing paperwork is to up sell folks to higher end products. I will look in the circulars we receive at home here for the sales and use the quote we received yesterday as a "high end bench mark". Thanks again for your input. Hugely helpful! Warm regards.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,694 Posts
A rather interesting observation seems that there must be at least 15 or 20 optical shops in our "little" town. There are fewer hair places than optical places. The markups in eye glasses and lenses must be huge.
I think they are in Germany, that's for sure! My wife comes from an old medieval town in Hessen, Germany - in the old town there are no longer any supermarkets, no fish shop, butcher just moved out. The houses are small and multistory low ceiling half-timbered places so the young people don't want them. They cost a fortune to renovate and really it's only older people of pension age or older that live there anymore. There are a couple of small shops and takeaways for the tourists, but optical places on every corner, it's amazing!!! :confused:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,846 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think they are in Germany, that's for sure! My wife comes from an old medieval town in Hessen, Germany - in the old town there are no longer any supermarkets, no fish shop, butcher just moved out. The houses are small and multistory low ceiling half-timbered places so the young people don't want them. They cost a fortune to renovate and really it's only older people of pension age or older that live there anymore. There are a couple of small shops and takeaways for the tourists, but optical places on every corner, it's amazing!!! :confused:
No Kaju, we are certainly in France! The Lorraine region to be precise. As a joke I say that the owners of optical shops meet monthly at a local restaurant to price fix the costs of their goods so the locals pay around the same price no matter where they go :) Warm regards
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
50,414 Posts
When I lived in Germany, I was working in a plant that made the metal frames for Rayban sunglasses. One of our shop workers was also the local optometrist - and we had a deal where each employee of the plant could get a free pair of the standard Rayban metal frames, and then take them to the optometrist and have your prescription lenses put in - either regular glasses or sunglasses. (Must have yielded some major business for the optometrist!)

Believe it or not, the price listing for the prescription lenses is fixed here in France. I think it's set by the government, even. (Having a somewhat complicated prescription, I have seen them go through the book in tallying up the prices.)

I know one factor here is that, technically, they don't seem to allow optometrists to do eye exams and prescribe glasses. You usually have to go to an ophthalmologist. Which is bizarre, because there is an Optometry school in Bures that has an open lab where you can get tested and get your prescription made up. Not sure exactly how the optometry profession works here.

But you won't be able to tell anything about the mutuelles coverage by looking at the flyers. You really have to go in and ask. (Preferably after trying on a few frames you might like.) Then, there are always all sorts of "specials" - sometimes it's a discount on the frames according to your age (i.e. if you're 55, then you get 55% off), other times it's a second pair of glasses (usually, but not always sunglasses - but almost always single vision only) free or for a token price. (Generally a limited selection of frames on that one.)

If they can direct bill the mutuelle, they'll do whatever they have to to get the price of your glasses to whatever the mutuelle will pay.

It's kind of a racket, but I have become good buddies with the woman in the Grand Optical shop in the mall here.
cheers,
Bev
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top