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What Not to Pack When Moving to Shanghai



Leah O’Hearn

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Shanghai City

When we contemplate the move to Shanghai, the natural urge is to cram as many of our favourite brands as possible into our suitcases: reader, this not necessary….in some cases at least.

This series of articles will let you know where you can find those staples that you thought you needed to bring (but could have left at home).

Item one on the agenda: Contact lenses.

It may actually be easier for you to buy your contact lenses in Shanghai than it was at home. In Australia, the UK, the US, and many European countries, it is necessary to visit an optometrist and get a prescription for contact lenses. Not so in China: here, you can go to Lenscrafters or many of the other opticians like American Eyes and buy your contact lenses over the counter.

Of course, this recommendation comes with a caveat: not all brands are available. It might be a good idea to check the web for your preferred brand and see if they have a foothold in the Chinese market. However, big brands such as Bausch & Lomb, Ciba Vision, and Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue are indeed readily available in Shanghai.  

Let’s take Acuvue as an example. Your first step can be to check the Acuvue website ( and click on the 6th tab at the top of the page (Where to find Acuvue), and then click 上海 (Shanghai) from the first drop down menu: a map will appear with lots of red dots. These are the locations of various opticians that supply Acuvue lenses. The site is in Chinese but you can copy and paste the name of the opticians and their addresses to give to your taxi driver.

If you worry about quality, don’t. We are not certain about other brands but we can confirm that the Johnson & Johnson Acuvue lenses available for purchase here are manufactured in the US and Ireland, just like the lenses you buy at home. Although the box appears different, it is simply covered in a sticker for the Chinese market. And don’t forget that there’s a Johnson & Johnson promotion on until April 10, 2011. Click here for details.

When you go to the optician, it’s best to take along an old prescription if you aren’t sure which lenses you need. You can ask staff to test your eyes to find the most appropriate lenses for you but remember that this service is not a given: You will need to ask for an eye test. 

In view of Shanghai’s poor air quality and good eye hygiene more generally, many have found that daily or fortnightly (or ‘bi-weekly’) lenses are more comfortable than monthly lenses. Daily lenses can be expensive so, if you are on a budget, fortnightly/bi-weekly lenses are a good compromise between comfort and cost.

To discuss buying and wearing contact lenses in Shanghai, head to these threads:

To get a better idea of what to bring, check out these forum posts:

Other links:

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