Q&A: Opticians, Glasses in Japan

Q: What do you know about Opticians in Japan? I wear glasses and although I am not blind without them but I am a little paranoid of breaking/losing my specs whilst on holiday or hopefully if I get to live in Japan someday. If you know anything about eye tests and the cost of glasses in Japan that would be really helpful!


A: Readers, I turn this one over to you - what does a glasses/contact lens wearer need to know about opticians in Japan? And anything else relevant to this topic?

Thanks so much to those of you who've offered your advice so far! Lots of helpful info and definitely something to turn into a future post, I think.

Carly says:
I went to a JINS eyeglasses store and got two pairs recently. I picked out the frames I wanted and then did an eye exam. They do a free in-house eye exam to check your vision, nothing fancy like an astigmatism test or anything. They asked if I knew my prescription power (correct term?) so I told the clerk the same numbers I have on my American contact prescription, and that helped them out before testing me. The catch is that the chart you read is in hiragana, but if you can read that you'll be fine. If there are a lot of people waiting for exams or having glasses made they give you a time estimate of how long it'll take so you can go do other things. The whole process took less than three hours and I went home with my glasses. I paid the price displayed in the shop (less than $200 for two pairs of prescription glasses!) and the frames are insured for 6 months.
Hope that helps! It was a fairly painless process and so much more convenient than in America. 

Bruce suggests:
Megane Ichiban. Frames and lenses for a little over 18,000 Yen. I have prescription from US doctor and have no problem. Or they can copy from your current lenses. Have already bought several eye glasses from there with no problems. 

From Chris:
Glasses seemed insanely cheap compared to Australia at first. But then I found out the "dirty little secret". The cheaper glass stores (those in the 5,000 - 20,000 yen range) don't custom make lens for your eyes. They do the eye test, of course, but then they dip into a box of standard lens either available in store or ordered, and make a "best match" for your eye condition. If you are only moderately short sighted then you will almost definitely be OK. However, if you are severely long or short sighted and have one or more additional eye conditions then you might end up with a pair of glasses that results in eye strain.
As I fall into the later category I went to a more expensive optician who custom makes lens and paid 70,000 yen for my glasses. I used to always pay $400-600 in Australia where almost all lens are made to order so this matched up with my expectation. Unfortunately government health care doesn't include any rebate for glasses here. 
Emma says:
I bought some glasses last year at the Optician in the Hiroo shopping street. I just walked in and they tested my eyes using an automatic machine and compared with my old glasses. They were very helpful and spoke enough English to get by. Of course taking a Japanese friend is helpful but I am guessing most opticians would have basic English skills.
I have a strong astigmatism and whenever I buy glasses in Australia they always get sent off to Japan to be specially ground so i thought that I may as well just buy them here. They were not cheap but on par with what I pay in Australia.
Always a pleasure to go back and get the glasses adjusted when I need to and they clean them so beautifully including a quick buzz in the ultrasonic bath!!! Love it!

From Jennifer:
I'm not sure about opticians because they're not really trained to do eye exams (so I hear), but only help you choose and fit eyeglasses. However, I have been to the optometrist here in Japan several times to get my eyes checked and purchase my contacts. Unlike the states, where I only got my eyes checked once every two years, the office here has me come in every 6 months. (I've had to go a couple of extra times for when I changed the brand of contacts I was using and they wanted to make sure I was okay and to get allergy eye drops.) The eye exam seems pretty routine and similar to my exams at home: I read a chart with different size Cs pointing in different directions (it would be good to know your up, down, left, and right in Japanese), identify whether the red or green side of the screen was brighter, had the puff of air blown into my eye, and have a doctor look at my eyes more closely. 
Also, I used to wear soft lenses that I disposed of every month, but I didn't get that option here (and I've been to two different places) and now use 1 day lenses. I think 2 week lenses are also available, but the 1 days work for me. I no longer have to buy solution! However, I don''t know how the experience would be for hard lens wearers.
Responses from folks on Facebook:

glasses, contact lens, Japan, optician

Cecilia adds:
I have lived in Japan for almost 2 years.  Last year I had my eyes examined and got new glasses.  The examination was very similar, with only a few differences, to exams I have had in the US.  The main difference was the process of ordering the glasses.  Many more questions were asked.  I remember having to select the company from which the lens would come.  I was fortunate in that for this whole process I was with a Japanese friend who is an eye doctor.  He led me through EVERYTHING  and helped me to respond to questions when ordering the glasses.  This was especially helpful since it was all done in Japanese and I speak no Japanese.  My advice to anyone going through the process is  to make sure that you are accompanied by a trusted, friend who if very literate in Japanese.  I would not hesitate to go through the process again.   I don't remember the exact cost.  I remember thinking that it was not excessively expensive.  I got a pair of regular glasses and a pair of prescription sunglasses.  I remember being less than impressed with the selection of styles of frames available.  However, I was long overdue for an exam and the variety of frames available here may be representative of what's available in the states.
All in all, the process is a good process here and I encourage others to take the plunge!
inverse says:
I went to Zoff (you can find them in most PARCO department stores) and I was really impressed by both the selection of frames and the service from the staff. I didn't originally intend to go there shopping for glasses, I just happened to find a cute pair and I had to have them!
- I was wearing contacts at the time. I don't know my prescription for my lenses offhand, so they asked me to take out my contacts (they have supplies to do this at the store), wait 10 minutes for my eyes to "adjust," then gave me a vision test. The test they gave me was using the alphabet, and using the standard test of "Which one's better? One or two?" The clerk couldn't speak only a little English, but it was enough to do the test.- I don't believe the staff of the store are licensed optometrists or anything, but interestingly enough, they gave me the same lens prescription that I have on my contacts, without knowing it. So they got it right.
- After waiting about 20 minutes, I got my glasses, a case and the eye exam for about ¥5,000. Pretty cheap and convenient, compared to the US, at least!

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1 comment:

Alex Mart said...

Hi! Isn't
Thank you very much! I'm glad they suit me! I bought them on Esty! :) xwww.oscarwylee.com.au

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