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Buying prescription glasses – are the extras worth it?

Published 14 February 2016 by

If you wear prescription glasses, you’ll know how you can pay a lot of money just to be able to see. It can cost a lot for glasses and if you’re on a tight budget, it’s likely that you’ll be looking to save money wherever you can. So should you cut the cost by paying for the most basic glasses available or are all of the extras the optician offers you actually worth the money?

We’ve taken a look at some of the most popular glasses upgrades you might consider purchasing, and when they might be a good idea. If you’re just looking to save money on buying your specs generally, check out our blog on cutting the cost of wearing glasses.

Bifocal lenses or varifocals?

Being near-sighted as well as far-sighted means you’ll need glasses that help you see things that are far away and close to you. The traditional option is to go for bifocal lenses in your glasses, where a clear line separates the two parts of the lens. They can take some getting used to, which is why you might want to go for varifocal lenses.

Varifocals allow you to see both near and far through the same part of the lens. These lenses are more advanced, meaning they’re generally more expensive. For example, at Specsavers bifocal lenses start at £35 for a pair, while varifocals start at £49 a pair.

It’s easier to see out of varifocals and if your job requires you to look at presentations as well as close-range like your PC. However, if you think you’ll be able to adapt to the bifocals ‘line’, you might be able to go for these.

Transition lenses

Also known as reactions lenses, these lenses will go darker when you’re outside, turning them into sunglasses. They mean you can go from indoors to outdoors without having to change your glasses, and Tesco Opticians offers the lenses from £49 a pair.

If you spend most of your time indoors and your glasses are only for seeing things up close, you might not really wear them outside much. However, if you work outside, it might be worth getting the transitions lenses so you can see in the sunlight.

Anti-glare lenses

As the lenses in your glasses are made of glass, light can reflect off them and distract you. Anti-glare or polarised lenses can minimise this effect and make it easier to see. Vision Express offers these lenses from £35 and they can be worth considering if you spend a lot of time driving or using and computer. If you don’t really use your glasses for these purposes – you’re mainly indoors and away from technology – it might not be worth the extra cost.

Thinner lenses

For stronger prescriptions, the lenses in your glasses are likely to be thicker and this can cause them to feel heavier on your face. However, you can have your lenses made thinner so they’re lighter and look better, and Specsavers offers these lenses from £40 for a pair. This is mainly just an aesthetic change though so if you don’t mind the way the thicker lenses look, you probably won’t want to pay for lighter lenses.