/ 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?

Comments
WelshMountain says:
4 February 2012

Does anyone have any experience of just getting the prescription from the Optometrist and then sending it off to an on-line supplier of frames and lenses?

I did and it was a disaster! sort of – am very pleased with the frames, much cheaper, but the lenses were WAY off my prescription. Specsavers retested (very thoroughly, friendly and cheaply I might add) and did a brilliant job, getting me new lenses within 2-3 days.
Oops!

Kathryn says:
15 February 2012

I did and was a disaster for me – see my earlier post – but Specsavers really saved the day. I have complained about the Opticians who provided the original wrong prescription to my local NHS as they told me to fly my kite, and am awaiting the outcome.

I always feel I’m going into battle when I go for an eye test. However, I usually manage to resist the sales pressure and only buy glasses when I need them. I accept that opticians are running a business, and I treat the visit as if I’m a careful shopper not a patient.
At the same time I’m very grateful that Which is keeping up the pressure on opticians to observe good medical practice. I go locally to Leighton’s – it seems well run , though decent frames are expensive. I’ve received this morning a brochure from Lloyd’s pharmacy, advertising home visits and testing. I’m becoming less mobile these days. Has anyone any experience of this company?

Elizabeth says:
1 March 2012

I am concerned because I feel that I have been pressurised into buying new lenses when, (I have now discovered), my prescription has changed minimally.
What can I do about this, apart from changing my optician?

Just walk out. You are under no obligation to buy anything if you have paid for an eye test. That may be easier said than done, but it is not uncommon.

I am a registered optometrist, and used to work for a multiple that I am not prepared to name. I was given daily performance targets that I was expected to meet. One of those was to convert 60% of patients in my clinic into buying new spectacles. On good days this was possible, but on days when there was little perceivable difference or clinical issues where a change of spectacles was inappropriate I was subjected to questioning by unqualified middle managers about my clinic outcome which ultimately lead to the threat of a disciplinary! As a result, I felt the “Right thing” to do for the public’s benefit and my own conscience was to leave and get another job with an independent optician whose only interest is to give the best service to the patient and not “Oversell” spectacles!

john says:
16 August 2013

specsavers

aida butler says:
6 July 2014

Where are you now?
I am tired of Specsavers and Boots who sell me New Glasses When all I need are New LENSES.
I WILL HAVE A TRUNKFUL OF OBSOLETE GLASSES WHEN I DIE.(OK for Sight savers)SMILE
Ionly want New Lenses
Aida Butler

catalina says:
31 July 2014

Several years ago I went to a large chain who told me had cataracts coming. However glasses fell apart so next time went to independent who said definitely no cataracts and confirmed this on subsequent two yearly visits. Last time they had got new equipment and told me I have cataracts.
Obviously their old machine could not find them but surely all opticians should have the same equipment? Also I too have loads of old glasses and keep being told the new lenses won’t fit.

idoc says:
31 July 2014

Opticians have to pay for their own equipment, the NHS does not contribute a penny, so some do have different equipment than others, it depends how much their bank will lend them to buy new equipment, but cataract is very easy to spot using a simple hand instrument such as an ophthalmoscope or retinoscope, whether or not cataract is present is a matter of clinical opinion. Most over 60s do have some haziness of the lenses inside their eyes, one practitioner may describe this as haziness of the lenses, another may call it early cataract, they are both correct.
As regards reglazing own frames – whatever I tell people about it being at their own risk, however much I explain that sometimes frames do break on the machine, however much they agree that it is at their own risk . . . If their frame does break they are usually extremely nasty and rude to me and threaten to sue me if I cannot find a replacement frame exactly the same which is sometimes impossible since their frame was discontinued 20 years ago. So I don’t do it any more. Some opticians still take the risk so I would go there – please.

John says:
7 May 2012

Had eye test at Leighton’s and they would not give me my PD (Pupillary Distance) reading even though I am buying glasses with them. Is this normal? I wish a cheap pair of sunglasses and cannot afford their prices. Any advice out there?

Eye Emporium says:
26 May 2012

Normally opticians charge if you want a copy of your PD measurement but I don’t know why they are refusing you to give your PD measurement.

I think you should have walked out of Leighton’s, John. If you have paid for an eye test and they will not let you know your PD, that does not seem reasonable.

You can estimate your own PD by various methods, though I am not recommending you do this and no doubt I would be justly criticised by professionals if I did.

I learned that my PD is 62mm the first time I used a binocular microscope. Many years later, Specsavers confirmed this figure when I got my first reading glasses.

Optometrist65 says:
18 May 2013

I’m an optometrist. Your PD in your reading glasses is your near PD, not your true distance PD.

Richard says:
4 August 2012

What is the difference between big chains and independents or small chains? I’ve been quoted £700 for glasses with Zeiss “individual” branded lenses at Rayner, versus £215 at Specsavers with Pentax. These are for simple lenses, ie not bifocal or atigmatism

Is there a difference in quality of the product, or is it simply the economy of scale? … or a bit of both?

I think it would be really helpful for Which to test the various branded lenses so we know what we are paying for. Do coatings really work? Do the higher cost lenses have greater clarity? It would be a great objective test based on quantitative data. Otherwise I’ve a decision of £700 v £215 with no evidence.

At university opticians and dispensing opticians are taught about lens coating in great depth and scientific details. They are written about in many optics related text books written by authors normally with a Phd. They are not a sale tactic and should not be used in this way. And yes they really do work. Coatings range from hard coat, anti reflective all the way to transition lenses, all with different benefits.
Higher cost lenses are normally pricey because it’s a thinned down lens which cosmetically looks better and is much more comfy than a thick heavier lens. Unless they have an anti smudge coating on them or are high quality varifocals I wouldn’t say they will help you see clearer.

Joss says:
31 May 2014

I have just renewed my prescription and thought I would try the Anti Reflective coating this time which costs an extra £40.00. The AR coating does reduce some of the light from reflecting off the lenses making it easier for people to see your eyes behind the lenses, but that is all the AR coating does. It makes absolutely no difference to your vision, it won’t reduce glare from headlights when driving at night nor does it improve your vision when looking at computer screens as claimed by some dubious sales people. Having compared my glasses without the AR coating to my new ones with the AR coating, there is nothing to choose between them apart from the fact that my my new prescription is slightly stronger. If there is any benefit from the AR coating, then it is purely cosmetic. Is it worth the extra £40.00? no way! If you want glasses to really improve your vision in bright sun light, put the money towards sunglasses or get a tint which is a lot cheaper.

I’m sorry Joss but this is simply not true.

Whilst Anti-reflection coatings do improve the aesthetics of a lens, claiming they do nothing more is simply incorrect and not helpful to anyone reading this. For decades now AR coats have been proved to reduce the artificial glare from headlights and computer screens e.t.c

Not only is it possible to literally calculate a percentage decrease in the amount of reflections present, AR coats can also counter-act Disability glare, which is glare that actually reduces the clarity of your vision and not simply the glare that is a nuisance. There many textbooks and literally hundreds of peer-reviewed journals expressing the benefits of these coatings and although there are many in the profession that appear simply as salesmen, I feel it’s vital to point out they do actually make a very big difference, particularly with larger prescriptions.

Source
My first degree was in Ophthalmic Dispensing and my dissertation was a 60 page report specifically on the effects of Anti-reflection coatings.

Kathryn says:
5 August 2012

I had the same experience, £700 approx for Zeiss lenses, but due to the shop breaking the frames I went to Specsavers where I paid the same price for two pairs – varifocals etc – only to discover that the independent had given me a prescription that was far two strong anyhow. The Pentax lenses are absolutely fine, Specsavers retested me free of charge and only charged me £30 for the replacement lenses with the correct prescription. I can’t speak too highly of my experience with Specsavers. I tried to recover my costs for the incorrect prescription from the independent, they told me to get lost – and when I raised a complaint with the local health authority they claimed that it was quite ‘normal’ for eyes to change their prescription within a couple of months………The health authority was quite useless – it seems that misprescribing is quite common and there is nothing the consumer can do about this. The moral of the story for me is that it doesn’t always do to support local independents and that you need to purchase the spectacles from the same company that issues the prescription as they will then rectify the matter free of charge if incorrect. I was really nervous about trying out Specsavers but I would recommend my branch to anyone.
Go to Specsavers and spend your savings on a good holiday!

Stef says:
13 August 2012

which Specsavers branch? Any recommendation in the Bayswater area, anyone? My problem is that although I kept losing the screw on one side of my glasses, it always felt very loose and the other day it literally broke at the joint. The job had been carried out by Vision Express but am considering trying another one.

Chris says:
16 April 2015

There is constant advise to shop around and squeeze each penny out of your spectacle purchase.
It is not usually a regular item like petrol or food nor high value like cars or mortgage. I see patients spending hours shopping around for a deal and estimate most do not save enough to pay the minimum wage.
The law has changed that the prescriber no longer has to pay but the specs supplier.
Common sense is that it is much lower risk and quicker to choose frames and lenses and then get exam in same place. This results in very strong consumer rights and almost instant money back if not satisfied.
As an optometrist I have witnessed very messy situations of separate frame then glazed elsewhere from another optometrists prescription. Yes you have the right to do so but it is not sensible.
Stick to- choose frame and lenses , price up, pick where,then get test and specs in one place.

Shahin says:
2 October 2012

I was recently eye tested by the boots opticians. but for some reason, I went and did another eye test in the spec savers maybe a week after that.
The two perscriptions I was given differed substancially!
so we have:
Right:
sphere: (-2.50 vs -1.75) Cylinder: (-0.25 vs -0.50 ) Axix: (160 vs 105)
Left:
sphere: (-0.75 vs -1.00) Cylinder: (-1.25 vs -0.75 ) Axix: (180 vs 175)
where the first number in the paranthesis is the boots perscription and the one after that is the specSavers one.
I can see very comfortably with my spec-savers glasses so im thinking the perscription by the boots opticians has been incorrect. Wrong perscription glasses would have affected my eye sight and possibly caused headaches and so on. I am very annoyed by this.
Do you think I can sue them for malpractice?
Thanks

What if the Specsavers eye test is the one that was correct? I’m not an optometrist but I do know that many people cope quite well with less than perfect sight correction. I should have been wearing reading glasses years ago according to various opticians but I cannot be bothered and cope fine without them.

If you did sue Boots and their prescription happened to be correct you could feel rather silly and maybe you could end up being out of pocket.

The first step should be to discuss your concerns with Boots and see what they have to say.

Dei says:
31 July 2014

I just had a similar experience with Boots opticians. During my eye examination at boots I felt they are doing a sloppy job. That’s at the London Wall branch in London. Couple weeks afterwards I had my eyesight re-examined at Vision Express (Oxford circus west branch), and to no big surprise the prescription was very different. I actually told the optician I got a different reading from Boots and the optician took extra care to let me compare both prescriptions in the shop. It was so obvious that Boots one was so wrong. Since my contact lenses have changed and I have collected quite some backlog at home, they told they will exchange for me all the unopened boxes for free (it was 4 or 5 boxes). I went back to Boots (I am on both opticians contact lenses direct debit scheme), explained that their eye test was incorrect and I need different lenses. They didn’t care a slightest bit about the job they did with the eye test, no apology, nothing. And they told they can only exchange for me one resent delivery, because of their regulations. The difference in competence, service and attitude is enormous. Needless to say I am opting out of Boots. They so openly do not care about the customers.

idoc says:
31 July 2014

Would you like to post the two prescriptions on here so I can compare them for you. I am a optometrist with 34 years experience.

Arthur Horsman says:
12 October 2012

I recently had an eye test at Boots, and when i went back to pick up the glasses i found it diffcult to see, i pointed this out to them and was told to take them away and i would get used them. I said i cant drive with these, but i felt i was forced to take them away, over that weekend i had headaches and could not focus. The next week i had two further tests only to be told i didnt need new glasses.
In the end i contacted Boots head office who arranged another eye test, which proved that i did not need a new pair of glasses, and was give a refund. However i have never received an apology.

Experience with Specsavers : POOR CUSTOMER service.Pratically told me that i can take my cutom elsewhere.
I went to Secsavers for the last few years -which I HAVE BEEN USING SINCE they opened their branch near to me .But now they do not care for customers
I wanted to cancel my order within 72 hours of confirming ,paying fully over £400 ,
Due to adversery comments I heard from my friends – they refused to refund my funds.
Their head office told me it is upto the director of the branch
I do not know what is going to happen when they give my glass in 15 days time,
Frankly I lost my confidence with them

Helen says:
11 February 2013

A High-Street-Name optician failed my son over 2 years. They should have noticed something as obvious as a faded retina and flagged it up. He was lucky Dollond & Aitchison’s locum spotted it & referred him – he has since has neurosurgery for a brain tumour. That locum probably saved his life.

I am 60. I broke my spare pair of glasses and noted that it was nearly time for another eye test (May 2011 last tested at Specsavers for whch I paid) so booked an appointment @ Specsavers for today. Had to go out in the rain, pay for extra car parking and wait 20 mins over the booked time. I was aked to sign an NHS form for a free test due to my age – fine by me. However the optometrist refused to do the test because I had an examination within the last 2 years. I offered to pay for a test rather than let the NHS pay for it therefore but was told it was company policy not to do that! ?? Apparently nothing to do with the NHS. Presumably I can now go to any other optician and get the free test and buy their frames and lenses! What a funny way to run a business – can anyone explain?

Response from Specsavers:

Hi, sorry about this. The store have been previously misinformed regarding the correct way to deal with situations such as yours. They are going to contact you directly to arrange a test and have asked to pass on their apologies for any confusion and inconvenience caused.

My response:

I have now booked a free eye test with Boots and will not be using Specsavers again neither will my family and friends. Readers of my consumer blogs can make their own minds up about Specsavers!

Arthur Horsman says:
8 March 2013

Hi Dave. I would be careful about boots as i have had very poor service from them, they are not interested in your welfare only in selling glasses. Anyway good luck but be carefull.

harriet says:
8 March 2013

i work for specsavers and they should not of refused you a test, the nhs will only fund a sight test when you are due although if you are having any problems they will fund it sooner. you can pay for your sight test yourself at any point so that was very wrong of them to refuse that test. some specsavers do give customer service 🙂

Millie says:
15 February 2014

Hi
Very true boots are only interested in taking your money, the sales staff are threatened with their jobs if they do not meet their target that the manager has set for them, NOT a nice environment to work in.
What boots have failed to realise is that people can not afford to pay their prices I don’t know if this is since the American company have bought in to them or they are just to GREEDY.
Money money money and no thought for the customer .

Dave says:
9 March 2013

NHS ADVICE – An NHS sight test is free of charge if clinically necessary. It is up to your ophthalmic practitioner to decide whether a sight test was necessary in your case or not. If you ask for a sight test and it is not considered clinically necessary you may have to pay for it even if you are usually entitled to a free NHS sight test. It is noted however that up to this point you had not received a free NHS sight test following your sixtieth birthday.

Charles says:
31 March 2013

I am a registered optometrist practising in the UK.
My advice would be
1. To shop around for your glasses first, then get your eye examination at the same practice where you get your glasses. It can cause the most horrendous problems if you get your eyes tested at one opticians practice, then buy your glasses at another, which is why the British College of Optometry which is a public interest body, advises against this. Some prescriptions do feel odd to start with; sometimes it is necessary to modify the prescription if the patient cannot adapt to it. This is fairly common and does not imply any error. The question of who is responsible when a patient, having purchased glasses from optician B after an eye test which has been carried out with a high degree of skill at optician A cannot get on with the prescription, HAS NOT YET BEEN TESTED IN THE COURTS – this is very important, which is why I put it in capitals!
2. Be very, very suspicious of free eye test offers or offers of eye tests at very low cost. Eye examinations require very expensive equipment which the NHS does not contribute a penny towards, and about half an hour of the time of a university educated professional. The typical cost of providing a thorough eye exam at a high street opticians is about £35 – if you are offered this free do you really think that you will then receive impartial advice about whether you need new glasses? Would you really expect to receive impartial advice about your double glazing from a company which offered free double glazing surveys? Many optometrists working in large high street stores are effectively paid on a commission basis with a “conversion rate” to meet if they want to keep their job.
3. The best way to choose an optometrist is by personal recommendation. No one would recommend me to anyone if they are unhappy about my competence. There are over 500 optometrists working at a very well known optical chain – of course they are not all equally as competent! Just because Joe Bloggs at Boots Opticians in London is good doesn’t mean that John Smith at Boots Opticians in Birmingham is good as well! Just because Jane Smith at Specsavers in London is poor at her job doesn’t mean that Jill Smith at Specsavers in Birmingham is poor as well – she may be brilliant! The only way to tell is by asking your friends, not by watching TV adverts.

What you say makes a lot of sense, Charles. Any organisation using a number of optometrists, especially the large chains, would do well to make it easy for customers to provide confidential feedback so that the less competent staff can receive appropriate support.

It does worry me that eye tests are being run as a loss leader and perhaps those in the business should push for reform, in the same way that we should separate MOT testing from repair work.

I could not find a website for the British College of Optometry. I guess that this is now the College of Optometrists.

Charles says:
31 March 2013

Sorry, it was very late when I posted! – yes it is now http://www.college-optometrists.org I am a member of this college.It is a public interest body, not a professional association.
Your comparison with the MOT testing situation is very accurate.
Just as MOT testers have a vested interest in failing cars so that they can do the repair work (which is why I never take mine to anywhere offering “free” MOT tests) – there are many optometrists who work in busy high street optical stores who, and I use this word carefully, are bullied into over prescribing glasses which people do not really need. The large chains have screwed down optometrists salaries over the last 5 years or so – I know colleagues whose basic pay is now half what it was 10 years ago – and they receive commission on sales instead. If they regularly fail to achieve 60% conversion rate (ie 60% of patients buy glasses that day) their job can be on the line. There is now an oversupply of optometrists and jobs are not easy to find.
I agree that this situation is not in the public interest and needs addressing, but there is a climate of fear amongst optometrists working for the large chains, many of them dare not speak out.
I suggest that a consumer organisation should hire an invisible shopping agency and send a group of people to buy (or get “free”) eye examinations. They should be carefully briefed beforehand to give a consistent symptoms and history so that it is a fair comparison, and the results compared. I suspect that, if they visit 10 branches of a well known chain offering free or very cheap tests, each time wearing the glasses they purchased recently at the previous branch, they will be advised that they need new glasses at 6 out of the 10 branches, but if they visit 10 practices which charge at least £25 for the eye exam, I would guess that figure would be much lower.

Thanks very much, Charles. I had not given the funding situation much thought, so I’ll take your advice and decide where I intend to buy glasses from and use that practice for my next eye test.

As an optometrist, I read your comments with great interest. I did work for a multiple which I’m not prepared to name, and was formally interviewed, and threatened with a disciplinary as my conversion rate wasn’t consistently over 60%. I now work for an independent, and no longer have to work with such threats. In my old job, In the multiple I worked for, I was also threatened with having the practice manager sitting in during the eye examination, to ensure that I was making suitable recommendations to the patient, in order that enough spectacles would be sold!

What would happen if the prescription had not changed since the previous test and they had bought new glasses? I can see the opportunity to sell spare glasses, tinted glasses or more sophisticated varifocals, but surely no optometrist is going to try to persuade someone to replace glasses with new ones with the same prescription.

Specsavers did not try to persuade me to buy new glasses when the prescription was unchanged. I had told the optometrist that I’d got both reading glasses and varifocals, but hated both and only used them when reading small text in poor light. Though I cannot fault Specsavers it would be good to support an independent, but from what I have learned about the funding of eye tests, surely the independents have to sell to stay in business, even if there is not a conversion rate target.

Charles says:
1 April 2013

Small independent opticians have much lower overheads than the large chains. They have smaller premises with much lower rent; fewer staff; they do not spend millions on TV advertising; and they do not have to pay 10% of their turnover as a franchise fee to head office. Eye examination fees make up the bulk of their income so selling glasses is of less importance and their advice can be more impartial. I think you will find that their prices are not a lot higher than the large chains if you compare what people actually pay at the large chains – their staff are incentivised to up-sell and hardly anyone actually succeeds in paying the advertised price – I should know, I used to train them when I worked for a very large chain which I cannot name.
Prescriptions are very rarely exactly the same from one day to the next – whether the difference is clinically significant and beneficial to the patient requires impartial expert advice.
This issue seems to be part of a bigger and more worrying trend – GPs have always made a fortune if their practice owns a pharmacy next door which incentivises them to prescribe the most expensive drugs (for which the NHS ie the taxpayer picks up the bill) – and as of today GPs can sit on commissioning boards awarding multi million pound contracts – to medical companies which they themselves own !

Martin says:
25 June 2014

Yes we at ASDA also sit in on our Optometrists examinations to make sure they are adhering to the advice given by the college of optometrists and that information is correctly and completely presented to the patient although there is nothing in our assessment about conversations or sales. People choose to buy from us possibly because our comparable prices give excellent value and all designer / non-designer ranges are the same inclusive price. We do not hard sell.

george says:
3 May 2015

I can only say the free eye test (bookable online or by phone) I received at Tesco (Hayes) was excellent – professionally done and with the latest equipment. The professional optometrist (qualifications well displayed) was courteous and had plenty of time. The prescription was freely given and was comprehensive. There was no hard sell of any kind. Great premises, very good service – good range of mens’, womens’ and childrens’ frames (including lenses) from £15. Also good selection of designer frames. I can thoroughly recommend this free eye test service by Tesco. My partner will also go because the service was so good.

Pauline says:
31 March 2013

Use local independent opticians. Changed from my usual one a year ago . Was advised that the lenses were up to standard of Hoya, which I had for some years. Not the case, my older glasses much clearer but the frame ridge cut into the bridge of my nose despite trial of different pads, hence a change of optician. Upon recent test told that last prescription was cheaper lense, and less stronger prescription than my previous one (with Hoya lense) Always felt this was the case, but though I went back, was told just needed adjustment of frame. We have to rely on the optometrist, and I often feel baffled. Will go back to the Hoya lense though. You get what you pay for. Never felt presssurised over the years either by Boots nor Specsavers, but prefer to use family companies.

anon says:
1 April 2013

I’ve been watching and reading this thread with great interest and while I agree with some of the points made some are just plain wrong.

Firstly – I am not defending any multiple/independent but merely adding comment.

As already covered you will get a a wide variance in the quality of an eye exam wherever you go. I personally don’t feel this is down to the fact you are getting a ‘free’ exam or paying for one. Nor if you go to an independent or a multiple. Having experience of working in both I can tell you for certainty a lot is dependent on the optometrist themselves. I have seen really good and poor performing in both.

As for conversion rate – I have seen this used to different degrees in different stores despite being part of the same company. Its often used to manage optometrists performing poorly in other areas, not just sales! What you tend to find is that the ‘better’ optometrists deliver a good level of care and attention in providing eye examinations, as such its instills confidence in the patient, such that if new spectacles/contact lenses are required they are more likely to purchase there rather than shop around.

No matter whether a multiple or independent the majority of the takings is from the sale of spectacles/contact lenses not from the fees charged. This is a problem left over from the birth of the profession many decades ago. The government wanted affordable eye care for all and as such subsidized eye examinations were provided with practices being allowed to make their profit from the sale of optical appliances. The cost to provide an eye exam in a typical practice is in the region of £35-50, as this is something the NHS nor the public are prepared to pay for then the system will continue the way it has.

Another interesting fact is how people remark on the quality of lenses. Many manufacturers names are banded around and some are indeed better than others. The problem arises when people try and compare prices – quite often on the face of it a anti-reflection coating can seem the same however most in the profession will agree there are some very basic coatings out there and then you have for example the crizal from essilor which is a much nicer coating. You only need to look at the cost difference – cost price of a crizal essilor coated lens is around 5-6x more than a basic coated lens from the same manufacturer.
To complicate things further I know at one time a certain multiple was allowed to sell unbranded lenses as a certain branded one under a licence agreement. This was generally the lower end stock where there would be no real appreciable difference however it makes comparing like for like more difficult.

Charles says:
1 April 2013

Sorry don’t agree with one of your points although I agree with the others. . I was at the Optometry Tomorrow conference at Nottingham on March 17 where I chatted to several optometrists whose eye examination fee earnings ranged from 30 % to 60 % of their turnover. I agree that the profession and the public have been adversely affected by the ridiculous historical system whereby the NHS pays below cost for the eye examination and expects opticians to make up for the shortfall by a dishonest hidden cross subsidy loaded onto the cost of glasses. This business model simply will no longer work due to healthy competition from large optical retailers and the internet. The benefit to the public is higher clinical standards. To expect Joe Public to pay you for examining his eyes when he can get a “free” eye test at the supermarket down the road you have to be good – very good in fact, and good enough for Joe Public to enjoy coming to see you because he knows he is getting an exceptional consultation and truly impartial advice as to whether or not he would really benefit from new glasses. I was interested to note that an optometrist I met charges the highest fee I have ever heard of – and he is booked up 4 weeks in advance. The public are not stupid, they know that there is no such thing as a “free” lunch – nor a “free” eye examination.

Pauline says:
7 April 2013

I agree there is no such thing as a free” eye test, and although I qualify, would be prepared to pay the extra. I had an eye test 2 weeks ago, my prescriptions has changed. However I did not feel the test was as extensive as tests I have had in the past, so will query this with the local family group. There was no “hard sell” and I know that I will get the higher prices lenses and a good frame from this group. Interesting to learn of the ridiculous NHS system – very enlightening

Sarka says:
18 July 2014

Hi can I know where to find him and how much is the exam please?

jasmine says:
22 April 2013

I used to go to a local Specsaver in Surrey, but I got verifocal glasses about a year ago from a Specsaver in the City. Unfortunately I had to go back to them numerous times because I couldn’t see computer screen very well. I could see fine with previous glasses. I complained, but they said I would have to get a second pair of glasses for short distance! At that point I gave up, but now I don’t know what to do. The situation got worse lately and my vision became constantly blurred with new glasses. So I switched to an old pair. I am tired of fighting with the Spacsaver in the City. Should I go back to a local one to start over?

Arthur Horsman says:
22 April 2013

Hi, I had the same problem with Boots Hastings, although my glasses were not veifocal i could not see out of them. I now understand you dont get free eye test, when they offer free test they try to get the cost back by selling glasses. I suggest you cut your loses and go to an indepentent ,who i have found dont try and sell glasses you dont need, although you may have to pay for the test. Hope this helps

Hi did you know you have a 30 day no quibble refund policy usually on the back kf your receipt? In specsavers australia its 90 days it may have been increased here in uk now.

catherine scanlon says:
24 April 2013

I wish these places would give proper, clear, comparable pricing – including a price list.

claire says:
30 May 2013

I had an eye and contact lenses eye test yesterday. Both costing £29.50 each. I asked for the prescription and was told I could have this at a further cost of £55. They would not give me any information about my eye test unless I paid for this even though I had already paid £59. I ended up having to order my contact lenses from the shop because I did not want to pay a further £55 for the results of the tests I had paid £59 for. Is this legal?

Martin says:
25 June 2014

No. You must be given a copy of your results following your test whether it was free or if you paid for it. It would be interesting to hear what the optician has to say.