Reader question: Are there opticians in France, like Britain’s Specsavers, that test your eyes in-store, then make the glasses following this prescription?
It is not possible to have an eye test and obtain a prescription at an optician in France, as it is in the UK, but this year it has become easier to see a specialist who can provide a prescription.
Previously, you had to visit an ophthalmologist (or ophtalmo) to get a prescription for glasses, and there can be long waits for appointments in some areas.
Since February, patients aged 16 to 42 have been able to visit an orthoptist for a first prescription.
An orthoptist is not a doctor but a specialist in the treatment of eye conditions through re-education.
This is not possible if you suffer from eyesight issues related to conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts or cancer.
For people who already wear glasses, the eye test and prescription can only be done by an orthoptist if the last check-up from an ophthalmologist was less than five years ago (three years for contact lens wearers).
If you are over 42, you must visit an ophthalmologist, but the idea behind the reform is to reduce waiting lists.
Once you have a prescription, you can then go to an optician to select your glasses.
Prescriptions last five years between ages 16 and 42, or three years for older patients.
In that time, you can go directly to the optician to change your glasses, and they can give you an eye test and adapt the prescription if necessary (the doctor may state this is not possible in your prescription if you suffer from certain conditions).
The Alain Afflelou chain of opticians has begun offering online consultations with an ophthalmologist, via in-store consultation rooms, in around 20 stores in areas where there is a shortage of eye doctors.
It plans to extend this to 200 stores.
Ophthalmologist and orthoptist trade unions are opposed to digital consultations in shops, saying they are motivated by profit and online appointments should be carried out by local doctors, then followed by in-person consultations if needed.
A selection of glasses is available at no upfront cost if you have mutuelle top-up insurance, under the 100% Santé scheme.
Some opticians might accept non-EU prescriptions, but they are not required to do so and these will not be reimbursed.