Cheap online glasses could be 'dangerous', say experts

In these hard times, many of us will be seeking out bargains and looking to save money wherever possible, but research has revealed that when it comes to your eyes, taking the cheaper option may prove to be a little short-sighted.

experts warning over cheap online glasses
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Research by consumer watchdog Which? has alerted customers to the dangers of buying glasses and contact lenses online, after it emerged that some may not only give you headaches but could even be dangerous.

The researchers tried out 13 online opticians, buying a total of 36 pairs of specs - 15 of those were considered not up to scratch when examined by experts, and four were described as "woeful".

Mismatched lenses and incorrect prescription glasses were among the problems, and where more complex prescription specs such as varifocals were ordered, the results were somewhat alarming.

Some suppliers were found to have guessed at the all-important distance between the customer's pupils.

The report by Which? said: "If lenses like these are not positioned accurately, the glasses could be unsafe when driving and using stairs."

The watchdog picked out a particular pair of £69 varifocals supplied by Goggles4U as being "extremely dangerous", stating: "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."

In response to the criticism, Goggles4U insisted that the site advises customers to ask their optician for the correct measurements before ordering.

Researchers also found that 13 out of 15 online suppliers are selling contact lenses without valid prescriptions, an illegal practice in the UK.

However, Which? suggested that those with a simple prescription stood a better chance of receiving acceptable specs, and four companies, Direct Sight, Glasses123, Glasses Direct and Glasses Frames and Lenses, were praised for offering an at-home trial before purchase.

What do you think? Have you tried an online optician? Tell us about your experience below...