Are the road signs going a bit blurry around the edges or are you finding yourself squinting at the television? Maybe it is time for a visit to the ‘opthalmo’ (opticians or ophthalmologist) in France.So, how do you go about it?
Do You Need to Visit Your Medecin Traitant?
In France, you are not obliged to visit your doctor to ask for a referral to an ophthalmologist. If you already wear glasses or contacts, and are due an eye test, you can make an appointment directly with your ophthalmologist of choice.
However, if you are concerned over your vision, it might be an idea to really make sure it is a thorough eye check that you need and that no other factors are at play. Your doctor (medecin traitant) may be the best person to advise you.
Making an Appointment at the Ophthalmologist
Generally speaking, in France, people do not visit an optician for an eye test although this is sometimes possible. A thorough eye test needs to be undertaken by an opthalmologue who is a specialist eye doctor. It’s also worth noting that your mutuelle health insurance may only cover you if this is the case, so do check your policy.
What to Do in an Emergency
In the event of an emergency eye injury, go to the nearest hospital with an Urgences department and they will assess you and make the necessary arrangements. See our general guide to dealing with an emergency in France for more information.
Some Useful Phrases When Booking an Ophthalmologist Appointment
J’ai besoin de prendre un rendez-vous, s’il vous plait – I need to make an appointment, please
Ma vue a changé – my eyesight has changed
Je suis peut-être myope / hypermétrope – I might be short-sighted / long sighted
J’ai des problèmes de vue – I have a problem with my sight
How Much Does it Cost for an Eye Test or Glasses in France?
It is highly recommended to have a mutuelle to cover the top-up costs associated with spectacles as they can be very pricey in France compared to what you may be used to. Contact lenses are only reimbursed in certain cases too – or you may receive a token amount towards them such as €100 per year. If you wear glasses or contacts, this is something to discuss with your mutuelle, as different levels of coverage may or may not include eye care and glasses.
You can check out the current state reimbursements regarding glasses and contact lenses here. For 100% cover under the latest reforms, opticians now must provide greater choice for adults and children in this area – more about that here.
If you have recently received a prescription (ordonnance) for glasses from an opthalmologue, it remains valid for three years so an optician can undertake an eye test and order a new pair of glasses for which you will be reimbursed according to your usual terms on your current prescription. Keep your ordonnance in a safe place as you may need it.
Always ask for a printed version of costs before you agree to anything.
Once you have your prescription, it may be worth researching online providers, too, who may offer glasses and contact lens at a fraction of the Optician’s prices. Possibilities include Happyview (which is recognised by the Social Security system), Glassesclub, lunettesalamaison, Mavue-online, Confortvisuel, Directoptic, and Easy-verres.
Obviously, quality is impossible to judge online and this is a very personal decision. Nobody wants to run the risk of wasting money so it may be wise to ask friends, neighbours and in online forums for any feedback before making a purchase.
Everything You Need to Know About Healthcare in France
From understanding the French state healthcare system and visiting a doctor to choosing a mutuelle insurance and dealing with your and your family’s health concerns—FrenchEntrée is here to help. Follow our Essential Reading articles for everything you need to know about healthcare in France.