It is the worst feeling realizing that you finally need to wear glasses. As someone who stares in the depth of my computer screen for hours on end daily, I had an inkling that it was time to get glasses. I had glasses some years ago in the United States, but this was my first experience with the Dutch system for eyeglasses. I include tips for buying eyeglasses in the Netherlands, information on how eyeglasses work with your health insurance in the Netherlands, and the average cost of eyeglasses in the Netherlands.
Do you need insurance to get glasses?
In some countries, insurance that covers glasses is actually distinct from normal health insurance and this is often because eyeglasses are so expensive to produce. In the Netherlands, you are not required to have insurance to get glasses. You can just make an appointment at the applicable glasses or contacts store and pay out of pocket.
How eyeglass insurance in the Netherlands works
If you live in the Netherlands, you’re required to have health insurance. Beyond the basic premium, you can add additional insurance (“Uw aanvullende verzekering”) on top of your costs to receive additional services.
Depending on your insurance, the most basic package that I found that included some coverage of glasses cost 18 euros per month on top of the basic bill for an extra package. This additional insurance included 50-100 euros reimbursement for glasses contact although you can receive more (100 euros+) if you wait 2-3 years depending on your insurer. Similarly, my offer included twelve physical therapy sessions, birth control, and some alternative medicine coverage. To say the least, I found the package a bit expensive given that I would not make use of all of the services.
You can imagine my shock when I realized that as someone who doesn’t wear glasses regularly that it’s far cheaper in the Netherlands to not to have insurance if you’re someone with minimal vision issues and only occasionally need to replace your old glasses.
If you require new glasses more regularly as you’re a regular user and you intend to get use out of the additional insurance packages, I believe that it might be worthwhile to get the insurance. It just didn’t make sense for me.
The average cost of getting glasses in the Netherlands
Depending on what kind of glasses you’re content to get, you can pay a lot or a little. The cheapest possible option typically includes a free eye examination. At Specsavers, I saw frames for those with minimal vision issues for as little as 19 euros although you’ll need to pay extra for any lens coatings (e.g. computer glare). Hans Anders also came recommended to me. Both stores had staff that spoke good English in the Hague.
Single frame glasses
Although I initially planned to spend around 50 euros maximum on my glasses, I realized that for the more premium glass, I’d need to pay more (90 for the computer lens protection). If I had gotten the cheapest lens with this glass, it would have been approximately 109,
I ended up being quite happy with both pairs. An employee carefully checked the fit with me in person and it took approximately two weeks for my new glasses to come in!
If you’re someone who requires varifocal/progressive glasses and who is on a budget, you should consider doing a free eye exam at one of the many shops prior to looking online. Zennioptical (an online retailer) came highly recommended to me for more complex prescriptions.
In general, you can expect that your glasses should cost in the range of 100 euros and 250 euros depending on your prescription and additional wishes in terms of lens coatings. You can save substantially by ordering online once you have your prescription. It’s possible to book an appointment for an eye exam for free prior to ordering online.