Secondhand glasses

Whether you’re looking to save money, reduce your carbon footprint or you simply love old-school design and vintage retro classics, then secondhand glasses may be for you. With no additional difficulty or inconvenience, it is possible to bring vintage frames into your optician, who will fit them with your new prescription lenses as well as repair any damage and give them a cleanup, swiftly making them seem as good as (and perhaps even better than) new.


© Photo par Chuttersnap

Some good reasons to choose second-hand glasses:

  • Whilst it’s already a booming trend in the wider sunglasses market, second-hand is increasingly becoming a consumer trend in the day-to-day short-distance and long-distance eyewear market.
  • You’ve always admired the glasses your grandma and grandpa wear in old pictures, and always daydream about replicating their look.
  • Second-hand frames cost far less than new ones, whilst still being stylish and with a story to tell.
  • You are eco-minded and any way you can find to reduce your material consumption and carbon footprint by buying second-hand is a bonus.
  • You love rummaging around vintage stores and you live for the thrill of finding an item that no one else has. You’ve always considered yourself somewhat of a collector, after all.
  • Those perfect glasses you’ve worn everyday for the past twenty years have finally given up, and they are no longer being manufactured.

Where are the best places to buy second hand? 

  • At flea markets, vintage shops and car boot sales. The benefit of these options is that you can actually try on the glasses before you buy them, and evaluate what kind of work they may need doing on them.
  • Resale websites such as Le Bon Coin, Ebay, Vide-dressing and Vinted are also great and have sections devoted to eyewear: mainly sunglasses, but increasingly day-to-day glasses, too. A keen eye here is helpful. Strike lucky and you can pick up vintage designer pieces at prices below the market rate. Top tip: ask the seller for detailed photos of what they’re selling, so you can be sure they aren’t fakes.
  • Some opticians are also catching onto the appetite (both environmental and fashion-minded) for second-hand glasses, and are offering selections of them in their stores. Check out:

La Lunetterie du Coin which has stores in Strasbourg and Metz

Dingue de Lunettes which is located in Paris and Bordeaux.

© Photo par Whereslugo

Putting your lenses into second-hand frames 

Based on your prescription, it is important to note that there are sometimes restrictions on what lenses you can put into what frames, as depending on how thick they are, they may or may not fit into the second-hand frames you’ve chosen. Generally though, an optician should always be able to make lenses work for any style of frame, although they might not necessarily be the most aesthetically-pleasing. Normally, if your prescription is weak, then there shouldn’t be any problem with fitting the lens. However, the more drastic the alteration to be made to the lens, the more your choice of glasses could potentially be restricted, especially if you want them to still look chic. For example, if you are very short-sighted, you should choose a secondhand model with a smaller frame, as a larger frame, combined with thick lenses, will make your eyes appear really small and distort the proportions of your face.

It is also important to remember that old glasses – particularly when plastic and acetate – get weaker over time and the material becomes brittle. This means that they might break when the new lenses are being fitted.

Aftercare for your secondhand glasses 

Unless you’ve bought them from an optician, your secondhand glasses, whether bought at a flea market or online, which you put your new lenses into, will not be covered by any aftersale care service. Furthermore, if they need it, your optician will not necessarily be able to order the right parts, depending on if they are still being manufactured. Indeed, you run a few risks when buying second hand glasses, particularly if the frame splits when you put the new lenses in. If this happens, it is likely you will be able to save the lenses and reuse them, but then again your new frames will have to be suitable to the size of the lenses you’ve already had specifically made, and so your choices will be hugely limited.

Can secondhand glasses be covered under public healthcare and other health insurance policies? 

When you have a medical prescription and you buy second-hand glasses from a registered optician, who can draw up treatment forms that enable you to be reimbursed, secondhand glasses can be covered under the same terms as brand new glasses, meaning you should be able to get the new frames under your existing healthcare policy. It is also worth noting that various online resale sites who similarly offer to provide insurance forms for customers. However, if you buy second-hand glasses from anywhere other than an authorized optician, only the new lenses will be eligible for coverage under any public or private health insurance.