Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Eye tax...

I went for my biennial eye test today. My prescription has not changed much, but I do a lot of VDU work and read for a living, so I think I ought to update my glasses. Also, wearing the same bit of plastic on your face for more than two years is a bit of a grind. Certainly, they do undergo wear and tear.

But here's the problem. I am pretty myopic (SPH -3.50, -4.25) and also have a significant astigmatism (CYL -3.50, -2.25). If I don't want to wear big bottle-bottoms on my eyes that all means I have to pay more for high index lenses. Add to that a significant degree of vanity that means that I don't want to go for the cheapest frames around and it adds up to a potential bill of nearly £700. (That's what the bloke in David Clulow quoted to me, in any case, but then again he is trying to sell the most expensive stuff he can.) I could reduce that, I suppose, by shopping around, by disregarding my vanity as much as possible, and the like but it would still on even the most economical estimate top at least £300. That sounds a lot to me, certainly as a minimum figure for me to have to spend every two years simply in order to be able to see sufficiently well to do my job. I'm not eligible, of course, for a free eye test (which cost me £20) -- for the criteria for qualification, see here -- nor am I sufficiently poorly sighted or on a sufficiently low income to qualify for other financial help -- for details see here.

In my more grumpy moments, this seems to me to constitute a tax on the (mildly) disabled. Don't get me wrong: I can pay for these glasses (but as a result, of course, will not be able to pay for something else) and I think it is right that assistance should be given to those who are severely affected by poor sight or do not have a high enough income to be able to pay even the lowest cost of corrective lenses. All the same, there is something that annoys me about the fact that through no fault of my own my sight is such that I cannot drive, read etc. without glasses. And it costs me.


1 comment:

stc said...

Try Boots -- they do high-index thin lenses more cheaply: my last pair were approx. 290 (after a 20 percent discount because I'm on their lens scheme -- I mostly wear lenses though so the glasses last longer.) My prescription only has a slight astigmatism, but in myopia terms I'm something like -6, -7.5, which means getting Boots to send off for the latest Japanese technology if I don't want to look like I'm back in the 1980s. (And of course until about 1995 they couldn't make lenses thin enough for my prescription in order to go in most frames -- I'm still emotionally scarred by childhood spectacles......)

Boots also do a disposable toric lens for astigmatism now, which is what I call proper technological progress.