6 September 2019

College welcomes Which? report on online spectacle suppliers

The College of Optometrists has welcomed an independent report by Which? magazine into online spectacle suppliers.

The undercover investigation found that seven of the 26 pairs of glasses purchased by Which? online did not meet British Standards and could present a potential safety risk. 

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists, said:

“I hope consumers will take note of the independent report and Which? magazine’s advice that people requiring complex prescriptions and varifocals are most likely to experience problems and should think twice before buying online. However, with a quarter of the pairs of spectacles they purchased online not being made to the appropriate standard, it is disappointing that they didn’t go further and make a resolute ‘Don’t Buy’ recommendation to their readers.  There is no doubt that the safest place to purchase spectacles is from an optical practice on the high street, where professional advice and fitting ensures clear vision and comfortable wear.”

This report comes days after Channel 4’s Supershoppers Money Saving Special programme, which put the spotlight on online glasses suppliers, resulting in the College issuing a complaint to the program makers, Channel 4 and Ofcom.

Read the Which? report.


Editor's Notes

  1. In 2016, the College funded research carried out by researchers from the University of Bradford and Cardiff University which compared 154 spectacles bought online with 155 spectacles from UK optometric practices. The research tested the accuracy, visual performance, quality and perceived acceptability and safety of the spectacles using input from consumers and dispensing opticians. The study found that, when comparing spectacles bought online and those bought and fitted in optometric practices, customers preferred shop bought spectacles.

Related further reading

Online eyewear sales surged during Covid-19. With many patients still opting to buy online, says Helen Bird, how can optometrists reassert their value and help to drive dispensing back in store?

How do clinicians choose between generic and branded drugs, balancing the need for patient safety against cost? Kathy Oxtoby takes a look.