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Tourist/Foreigner Information: Doing Eyeglasses in Singapore - do I need a prescription?

"Do I need a prescription to get glasses done in Singapore? How quickly can glasses be done in Singapore? Is it expensive to do a pair of spectacles in Singapore?"

These are common questions faced by tourists and foreigners who are here for a shorter duration - perhaps you've broken your eyeglasses and need a new pair urgently, or probably you just want a spare one before heading on to continue your trip around the world.

Otago Optical does prescription glasses in Singapore

Do I need a prescription for glasses in Singapore?

Yes, you will need a valid prescription to buy glasses in Singapore, however most optical stores will be able to perform a refraction for you, thus 'creating' a prescription.

In some countries, it's the standard to visit the optometrist (swanky clinic with a reception area perhaps?) for an eye check, and then take the prescription to an optical shop to be fulfilled by the optician.

However, the all-in-one style is quite the standard here in Singapore - the optical store that sells you your glasses also has the optician or optometrist who will do the eye test for you, thus removing the need to have your eyes checked at one place and taking the prescription to be fulfilled at another place.

Hence, choosing a nice frame at an optical store and then saying you want to "do eye test" or "I need to test my degree" might be more easily understood than "I need to get a prescription".

Do note that a different extent and scope of eye care is provided by different types of eyecare practitioners in different parts of the world; and even in Singapore, there are a variety of options, depending on your preferences and needs. You should visit one (or more) that best suits you.

If your prescription is in a "plus cylinder" format, it will need to be converted to a "minus cylinder" format in Singapore as the standard here is the latter.

Interior of Otago Optical in Singapore

How quickly can I get my glasses done in Singapore? Is it fast?

Singapore is known for efficiency, so the answer is yes you can get it done pretty fast - with some limitations.

There is a huge choice of different types of optical shops in Singapore, with very different business styles. Some stores are able to provide an express service, where you can get your new spectacles in an hour or within the day itself.

Usually, this can be done for single vision lenses, where the prescription or degree is not too high, as lenses out of the regular range have to either be ordered from the supplier or made-to-order at a lens lab, hence taking up more time.

We wrote more details about our glasses express service here.

Progressive lenses, sometimes known as multifocals or varifocals, are made to order (at least that's what we do) and hence cannot be 'expressed', even if you 'express' great inclination for it.

Spectacles in Otago Optical Singapore

Is it expensive to do a pair of spectacles in Singapore for a foreigner or even as a resident in Singapore?

As of writing this, the Singapore dollar is stronger against many major currencies compared to a decade or two ago, therefore it may be 'more expensive' than in the past for returning visitors, but the cost of eyeglasses remain very affordable in Singapore when we compare the overall cost of living.

Like many other things you can spend on in Singapore, you have a diverse range of optical shops to choose from - from online and hybrid models to the sophisticated high-end retailers, so how much (or little) to spend really depends on what you're looking for.

You can check out our inclusive and transparent prices over at our Shop before heading down to us.

If you're looking for a ballpark figure though - there isn't one exact number, because there are just too many products, levels of service, and business models to select from. But we did write an article about the average cost of spectacles in Singapore, just to help you get a rough estimate.

For Otago Optical, a pair of glasses can be done much cheaper than the average hotel room rate, and comfortably within the daily earnings of 80% of full-time employed resident workers.

Have fun!



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