Choosing a new pair of glasses often unleashes a mountain of options leaving many stumped when it comes to making a decision…
I’ve started wearing glasses in recent years, and a whole new consumer market of endless and confusing choice threatens to blindside me.
I could pay from £50 to £500 for my varifocals: the dispensing optician at my posh local independent place shows me a series of diagrams that seemingly demonstrate that I won’t have any peripheral vision at all if I rein in my spending, but there’s a high street budget 2-for-1 special offer that seems tempting… and that’s before the premium coating and the thinner lenses…
So to help cut through the confusion we recently teamed up with an expert optician to make sense of what’s out there.
Choose your optician wisely
The first big decision is picking an optician from the range of choice on the high street.
When we recently surveyed nearly 8,500 Which? members independent local opticians topped the ratings table with a customer satisfaction score of 87%. We also found that the wholesale retailer Costco came second place, getting an impressive 82%.
Now for those of you thinking about getting your eyes tested in one place and your glasses in another, you may be interested to know that the ratings can be quite different.
For example, one supermarket ranked second out of nine by people who bought glasses. It’s been awarded a five-star ratings for price, value for money and offers. But then when it came to eye tests it ranked eighth out of 12.
And customers of another major retailer rated its eye-testing better than for buying glasses, with all but one of its glasses-buying scores being average – including value for money and range of products.
Don’t fall for special offers
Now the second big decision is choosing your glasses.
Don’t just fall for the first special offer you see. It won’t be a bargain if you have to add on extra costs, such as pricey high-index lenses or the all-singing, all-dancing lens coating you want so that you’re not constantly peering through smudges and water droplets.
We recommend using our step-by-step approach that systemically works through the right lens, lens material, type of varifocal, coatings and tints, and frames.
Choosing well can save you money: for example there’s little scientific evidence to prove that most people would see more clearly or comfortably using the priciest varifocals, so many people can avoid trading up. And choosing your frame wisely in regards to the style and suitability for your eye measurements can help you avoid pricey higher index (thinner) lenses.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist the lure of the pricier specs, but I feel a bit better informed when it comes to making my choices at the opticians. And being informed gives us shoppers a little bit more power and a lot more confidence.
So have you had a particularly good or bad experience at the opticians?