Getting New Prescription Glasses in Spain

Anyone who wears glasses and is a regular traveller will probably have experienced the nightmare of breaking or loses your glasses while on holiday, and having to get a replacement prescription in a foreign country. This has happened to me twice, although the first was in the US and wasn’t a huge problem. Last month however my glasses were broken while in my luggage on my way to Spain, and I was faced with having them replaced on the first day of my holiday.

Luckily, it was easier than I’d imagined, and I thought sharing my experience would take some of the fear out of the process for other travelling glasses-wearers. Before we get started however, I think it’s worth mentioning that you should always take a spare pair of glasses with you when you travel – had I done this, I wouldn’t have needed to get a replacement pair at all!

If you have your prescription with you, then the whole process is quite straight-forward. I didn’t however (another handy travel tip), and had to have an eye exam in order to get a suitable pair of lenses. This was fairly simple, however, as I was able to walk in to an optician without an appointment and the whole process took around 20 minutes. Hopefully you’ll be able to speak enough Spanish to tell them what you need, but even if you don’t there’s a fairly good chance they will speak some English (in my experience).

The eye exam itself was the same as you’d expect in the UK or the US, although again it will be much easier if you speak some Spanish. The main words you’ll need are:

  • Mejor (better)
  • Peor (worse)
  • Igual (the same)

Those three words should be enough to get you through the exam and give the optician enough to get your prescription right. When it comes to cost, if you’re buying a pair of glasses or contact lenses, you can expect the exam to be free (although this might differ in other areas of Spain).

You will need to then purchase your glasses, but they’re surprisingly affordable – they ranged from around 30 Euros for a cheap, non-branded pair up to around 150-200 Euros for branded frames such as Prada, Dior and Ray-Ban glasses.

In most cases you’ll have to wait anywhere from 1-3 days before you can return and pick up your lenses, so bear in mind you will need to manage this period without your glasses.