London - It may save you money, but buying glasses online could be rather short-sighted.
The high cost of prescription spectacles and contact lenses on the high street has led many to look online for bargains.
But experts warn that some glasses sold by internet opticians aren’t just a waste of money – they could be dangerous, too.
Researchers from consumer champion Which? bought and examined 36 pairs from 13 online retailers.
Of these, 15 were not up to scratch and four were described as “woeful”, with problems including mismatched lenses and failure to meet the prescription supplied by the testers. In addition, five companies sent pairs of varifocal lenses that were regarded as “potentially very dangerous”. In these cases, the suppliers guessed at the distance between the pupils of the customer, rather than asking for accurate measurements. Which? said: “If lenses like these are not positioned accurately, the glasses could be unsafe when driving and using stairs.”
The organisation added that a £69 (about R900) pair of varifocals from a company called Goggles4U was “extremely dangerous”, adding: “The incorrect prescription and different heights of the optical centres would have been likely to cause headaches and eye strain as well as making the glasses unsafe, for example, when driving.”
Goggles4U rejected the criticism, saying that its website advises customers to ask their “eye doctor” for pupil distance measurements before ordering.
Those with a simple, low prescription have a better chance of receiving an acceptable pair, Which? found. Of the nine “standard” pairs tested, eight were approved by the researchers. The ninth pair, supplied by Vision2U, were for the wrong prescription.
Which? said: “Our experts’ verdict was that anyone with a simple prescription might be fine buying online, but they would have reservations about those with higher or more complex prescriptions.”
Four firms were praised for offering to send frames to try at home before buying: Direct Sight, Glasses123, Glasses Direct and Glasses Frames and Lenses.
Which? also found that many websites are selling contact lenses without valid prescriptions. This is illegal, as online sellers must confirm that a buyer has a valid prescription before supplying contacts.
Testers contacted 15 suppliers but 13 ignored this rule. Only Asda and The Contact Lens Shop asked for a prescription. - Daily Mail