I’ve worn glasses since I was about 11. Contacts since I was about 13. Before I moved to Lisbon I went to the optometrist and ordered a year’s worth of contacts since I knew I would not speak the language and was pretty nervous about the language barrier, process, and cost. Well…just like with Portuguese health insurance, I’m thrilled with the whole process on how to get glasses and contact lenses in Portugal. It’s pretty damn easy and I save tons.
How to Get Glasses and Contact Lenses in Portugal
First, you need a prescription. I logged onto the Medis website (that’s our insurance company & so far, they’re great) to look for approved optometrists. There were plenty in my neighborhood – Avenidas Novas, but I wanted to go shopping, so I went to GrandOptical in Colombo Mall which is off Lisbon Metro’s blue line so it was super easy to get to.
Eye Exam in Portugal
Because I have Medis, my eye exam for both glasses and contacts were free. The person that did my eye exam spoke English incredibly well. She said that most people in their office do as well.
I did not bring glasses or a contact case (I had never needed to in the states). At first, they gave me a little trouble and tried to tell me they could not do the exam because I was wearing contacts. Turns out the examiner thought I was wearing hard contacts, not dailies…and she said that would have affected the exam for astigmatism but that if I signed off that she would go ahead and do the exam anyway.
The exam was pretty much the same as an eye exam in the states. Simple and easy. When she was done, she wrote up my script and pointed me to the wall where the glasses were (I needed those too). She did not do the eye drops for dilating your eyes (yay!).
***If you are tight on funds, you can go to the SNS (Servico Nacional da Saude) and make an appointment, but since this is the national health system, expect to wait a long time.
The Glasses and Contact Selling Process
Know what was awesome? There was no upsell, no pushy salespeople, nothing. I simply went to the wall and picked out a pair I wanted. I walked to the counter and they moved me to a table. This is the part where in the US, they’d upsell you again on a more expensive pair, thinner lenses, non-scratch lenses….you know the drill. Not here. They simply took my order and told me to come back in an hour. It was that simple.
I also received 5 pairs of contacts to test out a new brand and make sure I liked them before making my purchase.
I came back, walked up to the desk, tried on my glasses, paid via credit card and I went home.
How Much Did it Cost?
- Exam: €0
- Glasses: €29 for the frames (YEAHHHH – AND THEY’RE CUTE TOO). They had more expensive frames, but I wear mine only at home…so I went with a cheapy pair of glasses.
- Lenses: €100 – saved €40 on each lens because of my insurance plan.
- Contacts: €180 for an entire year’s supply at GrandOptical
How Does it Compare to the cost of Contact Lenses in the USA?
In the US, I paid $679 for a year’s worth of contacts. That was $153 for the exam and $520 for the lenses. I got a $100 refund from Acuvue. This is a pretty big difference in the prices of contact lenses in the US vs the price of contact lenses in Portugal. Fuck the US insurance system – seriously. Fuck it (on a separate but related note, in Portugal I paid $15 for an ear aspiration that cost me over $700 in NYC – FUCK THE US HEALTHCARE SYSTEM).
Where to Buy Contact Lenses in Portugal
Anyhow. Now that I got a couple of F-bombs out of my system and I am again kicking myself for not moving to Portugal sooner…if you’re new to Portugal and you need contact places, these are a few websites & places where you can buy contact lenses in Portugal.
Lentes de Contacto 365: 1 years worth of 1-day Acuvue Moist €147
Alensa: 1 years worth of 1-day Acuvue Moist €140
Continente: 1 years worth of 1-day Acuvue Moist €180
***Most websites offer free shipping over €50.
Your local optometrist….or…local pharmacies. Yup. Just walk into your local pharmacy or supermarket’s pharmacy and they will have boxes of contacts there for you to buy, but they tend to cost more than purchasing in bulk.
Have more questions? Leave them in the comments.