Concerns raised over quality of spectacles purchased online

Some online retailers are selling poor quality and potentially unsafe glasses that could lead to wearers suffering distorted vision, according to an investigation.

Which? worked with opticians to investigate the quality and safety of glasses bought from nine online retailers, finding that seven out of 26 pairs (27%) failed its tests because they did not conform to British Standards or they were poorly made.

Two of the failed pairs were from Fashion Eyewear and two were from Goggles4U, with Spex4Less, Select Specs and Direct Sight each selling one pair that failed.

Some 11 pairs were poorly made, Which? said. Of these, eight pairs had poor-quality lenses that were scratched, loose, warped or positioned badly, two pairs had issues with nose-pad positioning and two had loose arms.

The testing also found that higher prescription glasses from Direct Sight and Goggles4U were unusable due to weight and vision distortion.

While all nine pairs of glasses ordered with a simple prescription passed the opticians’ checks, seven out of the nine pairs of varifocals caused concern because no height measurements were taken.

Opticians said this could be “very unsafe” because badly positioned varifocal lenses could cause the wearer to experience vision distortion, which could in turn increase the risk of falling and be dangerous when driving.

Glasses from Glasses Direct, Mister Spex and Smart Buy Glasses passed all the tests.

Which? said it had reported its findings to the General Optical Council and warned that while ordering online could be cheaper, customers ran the risk of ending up with poor quality and potentially dangerous glasses.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “While simple prescriptions are less risky, our research shows that complex glasses such as varifocals might not meet the standards we would expect.”

Glasses Direct and Select Specs said their non-tolerance rates for varifocals were “very low”, and Glasses Direct said it had conducted research about optimum height measurements for varifocals. Mister Spex explained that it offers a varifocal fitting photo.

Goggles4U said: “Each pair of glasses undergoes different stages of production and quality-control inspection before we ship them to the end consumer.”

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