Created for expats living in Japan

Buying Prescription Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses in Japan

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In Japan, prescription glasses are not required to be made at an eye doctor. To get prescription glasses, simply walk into a glasses store and they will offer you a free eye checkup. Within 30 minutes of the eye test, you will have your new prescription glasses ready to wear.

Here's a quick guide to show you how to get prescription glasses in Japan and where to look for them. If you require the services of an ophthalmologist in Tokyo, please refer to the list of English-speaking eye doctors in Tokyo.

This article is also available as a YouTube video.

Buying eyeglasses with a prescription in Japan

Many foreigners may believe that in order to get prescription glasses, they must first visit an eye doctor. The procedures are considerably easier and simpler than one might expect. The purchase process is outlined in the diagram below.

1. Visit an optometrist (store that sells glasses)
2. Take a complimentary eye examination
3. Choose a pair of glasses (usually starting from 5,000 JPY)

It is not necessary to have health insurance in order to buy them.This means that you can buy prescription glasses as a tourist in Japan and pay no tax if you live outside of Japan. It is not essential to make an appointment. All you have to do is walk into a glasses store and the staff will do everything for you.

Getting a free eye test at a Japanese optician

Eye examinations at an optician’s are free of charge and they require minimal Japanese. The staff will show you an image of a circle that has a gap in it. They will ask you where on the circle the gap is (top/bottom/left/right ect..). Here is all the vocabulary you need to know.

Right Migi(みぎ)
Left Hidari(ひだり)
Top Ue(うえ)
Bottom Shita(した)

Simply combine those words if you detect a gap at an angle, such as Bottom Right or Top Left.

Top Right Migi Ue(みぎうえ)
Top Left Hidari Ue(ひだりうえ)
Bottom Right Migi Shita(みぎした)
Bottom Left Hidari Shita(ひだりした)

You don't have to be concerned if you can't remember the words; you can simply point your finger in the direction of the gap. They will undoubtedly be able to comprehend what you are saying.

Are prescription eyeglasses covered by Japanese health insurance?

Japanese health insurance does not cover the cost of prescription glasses for impaired eyesight (including astigmatism) or reading glasses. This, however, does not make much of a difference because prescription glasses start at a relatively modest price, such as 5,000 JPY or even less.

If you are having eye treatment from a doctor (for example, amblyopia, strabismus, or cataract), your insurance may cover a portion of the cost. Please check with your doctor to see whether this is appropriate for your situation.

Where to get prescription eyeglasses in Japan

Optical stores can be found in practically every shopping mall in Japan, and there are many of them. Even if not all shopkeepers understand English, ordering a pair of prescription glasses should not be too difficult.



Paris Miki 


Where to purchase contact lenses

In order to get a prescription for contact lenses in Japan, you must first have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist. Purchase contact lenses from any contact lens store after receiving the prescription. These stores are frequently located near an ophthalmologist's office; if not, your doctor will inform you where to get them.

Another option for buying contact lenses in Japan is to order them online (see below).

Order contact lenses online

Amazon Japan

Please make sure you have your prescription from an ophthalmologist and that you know exactly what kind of lenses you require. Contact lenses cannot be purchased without first being examined by a doctor.

Costco Online

From UK