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Buying glasses online

Usually, the purchase of glasses is done through an optician, who makes the glasses corresponding to your correction after consulting the prescription of your ophthalmologist and taking some complementary measures.

For the past fifteen years, there have been sites that offer to deliver glasses through distance selling. As it can be complicated to buy glasses in some countries, we thought it would be interesting to look deeper into the subject.

I. How to buy glasses online

In fact, it is simpler than it seems. It is necessary to :
- Have a prescription;
- Know your correction and your pupillary distance. In France, the pupillary distance is rarely mentioned on the prescription because it is the optician who measures it. Abroad, it is more often noted. Do not hesitate to ask for it. If this is impossible for you, there is a software program available on the Direct-optic website (one of the French market leaders) so that you can measure the distance between your eyes yourself with your webcam.
- Choose your frame: using either the virtual trial or the home frame trial.
- Choose your corrective lenses with the choice of the type of lenses as well as their range, thickness and tint that you want.
- Choose your delivery method and destination.

II. Ophthalmologists or optometrists, what is the difference?

In many countries, eyewear prescriptions are made by optometrists and not by ophthalmologists.
An optometrist is a primary eye care provider who can perform eye exams, write prescriptions and treat common eye diseases.
To order your glasses online, you can submit a prescription from an optometrist.

For your information, in France, a general practitioner can also write you a prescription for a pair of glasses. For example, if you present him with your outdated prescription you can ask him to prescribe you the same corrections.

III. How to choose the right website?

There are several sites that offer to sell glasses online but in order to choose one, you must make sure that the delivery will be done in the country where you are.
As an example, the American company, EyeBuyDirect, involved with several organizations helping people with vision problems, offers a range of trendy frames. There is also Clearly, the Canadian site, which offers glasses with "exceptional comfort".

As a French expatriate, you can choose sites with a Social Security approval. This label allows French residents to be sure that their glasses will be reimbursed by the French Social Security and mutual insurance companies. This label is not essential in order to be reimbursed by an expatriate health insurance but it shows that the site adopts French standards, such as the qualifications of the opticians who work there. For instance: DirectOptic, which has the particularity of selling frames with anti-reflective and anti-scratch lenses; Expertoptic, which stands out thanks to the precision of its measurements and MyMonture, which offers a second pair of lenses for 1 euro more.

IV. Obtaining a refund

To obtain a refund, you must send your medical prescription and your invoice to your health insurance.

Some sites will deliver your order without you providing a prescription and therefore you will not need to consult your ophthalmologist. However, without a prescription, reimbursement will obviously not be possible.

If you join the CFE, the reimbursement will be the same as the Social Security, which is... not much.

Expatriate health insurance does not necessarily reimburse the cost of glasses. It is an option that is often grouped with dental care. The price of these options can add a lot to the monthly bill while online glasses can be inexpensive and of good quality. It may therefore be wise to forego this option in order to make substantial savings every month. Don't hesitate to ask your Health For Expats advisor for advice.

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