How to buy eyeglasses in Germany

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 cover 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 frame.1
  • Adults
    Insurance pays for the lenses, but only in those cases: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 lenses.3 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 reimbursement.4 You must buy eyeglasses less than 4 weeks after getting an eye test.4

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 free.5 Your health insurance pays for it. If you have a prescription, and you need glasses for your work, your employer must pay for them.

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 old.6

Useful links:

Does private health insurance cover glasses?

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.

Do employers cover glasses?

Sometimes. If you need glasses to do your job, your employer must pay for your glasses.

Your employer must pay for your glasses if…7

  • You need computer glasses (Bildschirmarbeitsplatzbrille) for your job. For example if you work in front of a screen more than 45 minutes a day. You need a prescription from an ophthalmologist (Augenarzt).
  • You need protective glasses for your work. For example, if you work in construction.

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 it.8 The insurance is more expensive than the glasses it pays for. It rarely cover lost glasses.9

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 around 25€ for the test. Usually, the test is free if you also buy eyeglasses.

Deduct glasses from your taxes

You can deduct eyeglasses from your taxes.11 If you went to an ophthalmologist (Augenarzt), you can also deduct your eye test.12

You must deduct it as an exceptional burden (außergewöhnliche Belastung).13 You must have an eye test from an ophthalmologist (Augenarzt), to prove that you need glasses.14

You can’t deduct glasses as a business expense (Werbungskosten),15 unless you only use them at work. For example, if you buy safety goggles for work, you can deduct them as a business expense.

Sources and footnotes
  1., §33 SGB V, 

  2., §33 SGB V