/ Health, Shopping

Don’t be blinded by bargain glasses online

Colourful sunglasses on a washing line

There are plenty of websites and stores that sell prescription glasses and sunglasses out there, but are your slashed price specs really giving you a bargain – and how can you be sure you’re getting the real deal?

I’ve recently found myself really coveting a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses. It is so rare to get the good weather that we have seen in London recently, and there’s something about those iconic frames. They are expensive though – and it’s tempting to pop online to see if I can pick up a pair for less.

This isn’t as simple as it sounds though. It can be difficult to know whether you’re getting a real pair, especially if you’re buying online. When I talked to a glasses supplier which counts Ray Ban in their portfolio he told me they have taken 45,000 counterfeit Ray Bans out of circulation in the UK – in the past year alone.

Inadequate UV protection on some fake glasses

And it’s not just money you could lose out on. Fake sunglasses could provide inadequate UV protection, leaving your eyes at risk of eye damage. Also, if you are buying prescription glasses online, no checks will have been made beforehand. But do not worry yet – a few key tips could help make sure you don’t fall foul of fakery, or poor prescriptions.

In our 2012 investigation we investigated 36 pairs of glasses from 13 online companies, and ten of those were given borderline passes by our experts – because the online companies did not have the measurements to ensure the correct distance from the pupils to the lens of the glasses – particularly important in higher prescription glasses. If you’re buying prescription glasses online, the company should ask for these measurements. This is particularly important with varifocals.

Spotting fake sunglasses

To check if the site you’re in is legitimate, put their details in brand-i.org . In partnership with Trading Standards, this website only shows websites that sell genuine products. And remember – if the price looks too good to be true on a website, it probably is!

And what about fake sunglasses? Cast your eyes over these tips and you could minimise the chance of coming across fake ones. Check the model number – it shouldn’t rub off or scratch off easily. And see if there’s a metal cord running through the arms of the glasses – cheaper plastic frames do not usually have these.

Do you buy your glasses online or have you ever had a problem with fake frames?


If you are wondering about sunglasses and why one might wear them this article is interesting:

The only query in my mind is whether anyone has qualified the amount of time and latitude where effects may be serious. Certainly we know for the UK that UVB is only sufficient for the central part of the day in summer. Perhaps that is true for protecting the eyes – anyone know of any research on this?

sunglass says:
27 February 2015

in every case it is not like that……………

Mike says:
28 May 2015

I couldn`t buy online as I needed prescription sunglasses, although my local optician had the `wimbledon by Rodenstock` range on offer, but I would never buy sunglasses online anyway. Unless the saving is massive, and you totally trust the seller, why take the chance.

I think the Huffinton Post article I referenced eighteen months ago is an excellent and useful warning of the dangers that may occur from not using them. I am of course disappointed that Which? has not run with it – unless it was in the Travel magazine, or possibly Gardening.

One of the serious structural problems with Which? is that unlike say Wikipedia you cannot get a summarising article of an area – in this case glasses/sunglasses –

Explanation of need for glasses
size of “problem”
latest research
applicability to UK
results of previous actions taken by Which? involving TSO’s or sellers

On Wikipedia I get a total of 30 usable pages – I ignore all the referencing – and all of this forms a great reference base for any reader. Having said that it could be better.

I have looked at the Which collected articles and small as they are and spread over years there is little coherence – and obviously you cannot see it all at once but have to go from item to item.

I have suggested “Whichopedia” for Which subscribers however the charity does not seem at all receptive to change. If I were in publishing I might see a Whichopedia article as depriving me of of “new” recycled stories. However I think this is flawed as it will make the investigative and chasing up articles more of the story of a consumers association being active, and effective.