This guide shows you how to buy eyeglasses in Germany. It explains what your health insurance pays for, and how to pay less for your glasses.

Does public health insurance pay for glasses?

Usually, no. Public health insurance rarely pays for eyeglasses, but there are some exceptions:

  • Children under 18 years old
    Insurance pays for the lenses, but not the frame1, 2, 3.
  • Adults
    Insurance pays for the lenses, but only in those cases1, 2:
    • You are near-sighted (myopia), and your glasses' strength is over 6 dioptres
    • or you are far-sighted (hyperopia), and your glasses' strength is over 6 dioptres
    • or you have astigmatism, and your glasses' strength is over 4 dioptres
    • or the glasses are needed to treat eye injuries or eye diseases, for example to protect your eyes after an eye surgery

In those cases, health insurance only pays for basic lenses1. It does not pay for the frame. Some opticians will give you the frame for free, like Fielmann and its Nulltarif collection.

When you buy glasses, the optician charges your health insurance directly. You don't need to ask for a reimbursement1. You must buy eyeglasses less than 4 weeks after getting an eye test1.

Useful links:

Are contact lenses covered?

The rules for contact lenses are the same as for eyeglasses. Cleaning liquid is not covered by public health insurance.

Are eye tests covered?

Yes. If you go to an ophthalmologist (Augenarzt), the eye test is free1, 2, 3. Your health insurance pays for it.

If you go to an optician (Optiker), the test is not covered by your insurance. You must pay for the test yourself. There is one exception: TK pays for tests at the optician, but only for children under 14 years old1.

Useful links:

Does private health insurance pay for eyeglasses?

Sometimes. Many private health insurers pay for eyeglasses. Usually, you can spend a fixed amount on eyeglasses every 2 or 3 years.

Private health insurance coverage varies a lot. You must check your insurance policy (under Hilfsmittel). If you are still choosing health insurance, a health insurance broker can help you find health insurance that covers glasses.

Eyeglass insurance

Some insurers also offer glasses insurance (Brillenversicherung). It costs around 7€ per month. Usually, it pays for new glasses every 2 years. Usually, it's not worth it1. The insurance is more expensive than the glasses it pays for. It rarely cover lost glasses1.

How to pay less for eyeglasses

A normal pair of eyeglasses costs around 350€. This includes the frame and the lenses. There are ways to pay less.

Buy generic frames

Frames from popular brands cost 150€ to 350€. Generic frames often cost less than 100€. You can even find eyeglasses for less than 50€, lenses included.

These stores sell generic frames:

When you visit an optician, they usually show you expensive frames first. Say that you don't want to pay a lot, and ask to see the generic options.

    Get your eye test at the eye doctor

    If you have public health insurance, get tested at the ophthalmologist (Augenarzt). The test is covered by your health insurance.

    If you go to an optician, you must pay for the test. Usually, the test is free if you also buy eyeglasses. If you don't but glasses, the test costs around 25€.

    Deduct glasses from your taxes

    You can deduct eyeglasses from your taxes1, 2. If you went to an ophthalmologist (Augenarzt), you can also deduct your eye test1.

    You must deduct it as an exceptional burden (außergewöhnliche Belastung)1. You must have an eye test from an ophthalmologist (Augenarzt), to prove that you need glasses1, 2, 3.

    You can't deduct glasses as a business expense (Werbungskosten)1, unless you only use them at work. For example, if you buy safety goggles for work, you can deduct them as a business expense.