/ Health

Are opticians losing sight of our needs?

Our investigation into opticians found that some are failing to provide proper eye tests, with those customers who have the most serious eye conditions getting the worst service. How would you rate your optician?

I had a horrible experience earlier this year: I had an episode of acute glaucoma – unusual for someone in their 40s – and had to have laser surgery on my eyes.

Luckily my optometrist (optician) knew her stuff and referred me to the hospital, and I suffered no lasting problems. But our latest investigation into opticians makes me wonder if my experience was even luckier than I thought.

Opticians fail the Which? eye test

We sent researchers with a range of eye conditions to 40 optometrists from large and small chains, as well as some independents, and found that just under a third weren’t up to scratch. Moreover, only one visit was rated excellent by our experts.

Perhaps more worryingly it was the researchers with the most complicated eye problems – arguably those who most needed the skill of a tip-top professional – who got the worst service. Twelve out of 40 prescriptions were rated “poor” and in five cases staff even struggled to get an accurate result from the machine that measures the prescription of your current glasses.

We also surveyed our members and found that 40% thought the final cost of their optician appointment was more than they expected, and 18% didn’t consider the glasses or lenses they bought to be good value.

Your health or your wallet?

The above survey makes me think about the relationship between the optician as a provider of a health service (one that’s vital to keep your eyes fundamentally in check) and the optician as retailer (the guy has to sell you your glasses). In order to trust our optician, we have to be sure that he or she is doing both of these jobs well – diagnosing a potential eye condition, and selling us a product that’s right for us.

Our research throws some doubt on both. Our researchers visited a relatively small number of opticians, but our expert panel that rated those visits (from hidden recordings) saw some very poor practice.

Thankfully, we saw good practice too, but perhaps we need to question what opticians are really there for?

Paul says:
19 March 2016

Don’t judge every optician based on the poor practices of specsavers. They are possibly the worst multiple on the high street, even more so if you go to a franchise. My partner owns an independent and all she hears all day is “specsavers are cheaper” yes on some products they are, but there is the age old saying “you get what you say for” People also don’t realise that if you find a good practice, that is a bit more expensive you are also paying for the expert advice from the optometrist and the dispenser. Yes there are people out there that are only in it for the money, but there are also people that genuinely are in the business for the good of the patient

I’ve used Specsavers in Worthing in the past however, I cannot recommend them. The optometrists seem thorough enough and certainly the staff are very friendly but they also go completely to pieces if there’s a problem and seem to have no concept of good customer service beyond the initial sale.

Put it this way: there, the customer is always wrong!

I’ve since changed to a different optician who listens to you throughout the whole process and values customers as being important rather than a nuisance.

All in all, avoid Specsavers Worthing unless you are very, very patient with incompetent staff.

WHOS AT FAULT..???..SHOULD I SUE..???….I had eye test at Specsavers in May and new glasses. Started experiencing headaches and blurred vision with halo rainbow effect in my right eye at the beginning of September.This happened regular over the following days. On Sunday evening the 4th I had a headache from hell blurred vision which went white like I had been staring at direct sunlight.This lasted about an hour then cleared but left me with hazy blurred vision.The following morning Mon 5th the headache had eased and the blurred vision was a bit clearer.By dinner time the headache started again.I was very worried so went to get it checked out at SPECSAVERS. I explained everything.I was told to take a seat, an optician will see me. They was very busy with lots of children so I waited my turn because I didnt have an appointment.I was still sat waiting 3 hours later I was the only person left and it was almost closing time.Some of the opticians were leaving a member of staff came over to me and asked if they could help (THEY FORGOT ME) Eventually the optician saw me. I explained everything…HE DIDNT DO A THING..(DID NOT EVEN LOOK IN MY EYES WITH THE LIGHT) .ONLY OFFERED AN APPOINTMENT..I continued with blurred vision and on and off headaches and halos.Thursday the 8th Sept I had to call the doctor out.I couldnt function,I was in tears with severe pain my head eyeball cheek nose forehead hurt. I couldnt see it was all white. ALL my doctor did was shine the light in my eye and said its GLAUCOMA…YOU NEED TO GO TO HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY THIS SERIOUS AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN PICKED UP SEVERAL DAYS AGO. He phoned EMERGENCY eye clinic directly.At hospital The Consultant recorded eye pressure at 56 in right and 16 in left. I was give IV medication to help lower the pressure,lots of drops applied and a prescription of Tablets and 5 different drops to apply 4 times a day.I wasnt allowed home till the pressure started to drop.I went home at 7pm when pressure had dropped to 50. EMERGENCY LASER in both eyes was arranged at 9am the following morning.NOW…My right eye is poor.My vision has deteriorated which is affecting my squint(lazy eye) because I cannot focus .My eye has lost its colour it has turned blue and my pupil doesnt react properly.I have sensitivity to light.I have been told it wont get any better.Although the optician may eventually be able to get it a little better for me but only time will tell. ALLTHIS IS AFFECTING MY DAY TO DAY LIFE in many ways.WHERE DO I STAND…???