Row of glasses
Research report
28 May 2019

Buying glasses

Shopping for glasses and blinded by your options? We cast our eye over the specs market.

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David P.
12 Sep 2020
Don't forget the Warehouse!

When I had both eyes treated for cataracts I had lenses fitted which let me drive without glasses. Works well. However, I needed glasses for reading. I found that the $10.00 Warehouse glasses (available elsewhere as well) worked fine. When I visited my surgeon I told him this and he said that, as all I now needed was a simple magnifying lens, this was fine. I wouldn't like anyone to take up this option without a previous examination, but if you are in my position it's worth thinking about.

David

McCaulay S.
21 Jul 2021
I hadn't seen him wearing glasses in normal day to day activities

I have a friend who is extremely wealthy, and whilst we travelled through the Southern Alps by train, he read a piece from one of the promotional pamphlets. I hadn't seen him wearing glasses in normal day to day activities before, and I commented on them. Jokingly, I assumed, he replied saying they were $10 Warehouse glasses. But, no, he was not joking. He too only needed magnification for reading. Not expensive, and often over-priced prescription lenses that our NewZealand Optometrists advertise in a dubiously misleading way.
Warehouse glasses............why wouldn't you.

Marg and Gordon
10 Oct 2019
Don't forget independents

I have a complex prescription - progressives with additional prisms.

I've had incorrectly prescribed lenses from both large chains. One built the prisms the wrong way round, the other prescribed 3 times as much prism as was correct. On each occasion I got a local independent optometrist to check. Neither of the chains made a proper attempt to fix their errors - in both cases "that optometrist has moved on" and refunds were declined.

I now use the independent for everything. Slightly (20%-ish) more expensive, but they are honest enough to tell me when no change is needed, and I get a second pair as sunglasses (from their prescription) on line.

I'd always use a properly qualified independent now.

Gilbert D.
07 Jul 2019
New glasses necessary?

You are told it is now time to have a 'free' (but it isn't quite free) eye checkup and apart from a minor cataract which you knew about and doesn't require treatment there is no problem. But you are not asked if you would like to have new glasses. You are simply given a prescription and the new glasses follow. It is all a waste of money since you find no benefit with the new glasses and can easily continue using the old pair. I feel that if you are comfortable to continue with the old glasses then it is unfair to assume that you would like to have new glasses which you may never use and have difficulty affording.

McCaulay S.
21 Jul 2021
don't select a frame

If you don't want a new pair of glasses then don't select any frames.
I have my "free" eye test at Specsavers every year, and if I need new glasses, I get a print out of the resulting script, and then go looking for frames that suit me (and that I like). If the Optometrists where you got your script from don't have any frames you like, tell them so, and go elsewhere with your new script in hand.
The Optometrists are required by law to supply you with a copy of your script, and you can use it anywhere you decide. just that not many people ask for it. Where you chose to use it is irrelevant. It's your script.

Previous member
07 Jul 2019
SpecSavers

on a regular eye examination they advised me that I had cataracts and would need to see a specialist to get properly evaluated. Good advice. BUT then put on the hard sell for me to purchase new glasses right now to correct my vision problems - at a price of around $1,000 for the lenses needed. Why buy new glasses just before going to see an eye specialist? I have never gone back to them as I don't trust them.

Alice
06 Jul 2019
Prescriptions

Someone who used to work at one of the nationwide retailers told me that if their optometrists were asked for the pupil distance they knew their client was going to shop online or go elsewhere for their glasses. They would then supply a prescription that was just ever so slightly out - enough for the client to not have vision problems but would cause headaches after a few hours. The client would then go back to their optometrist and the blame would be put on the new glasses purchased from overseas resulting in the client buying glasses from them after all.

kerry-ann w.
11 Aug 2020
Disgraceful

How absolutely disgusting and deceitful is that , I am glad you have highlighted this as I intend to get glasses "online ". I hope that the person who told you reports their former employer to HEALTH AND DISABILITY.

McCaulay S.
21 Jul 2021
Don't ask

Don't ask the question. Just go get tested, and then as the sales person walks you through a selection of frames, ask the sales person to see a copy of the script. If there are no suitable frames at a suitable price, keep the copy of the script which you are entitled to keep by law, and shop elsewhere.

Kevin H.
06 Jul 2019
Singapore Everytime

My wife and I have a daughter and family who live in Singapore. We visit at least every two years.
I am now on my 3rd pair of prescription glasses, with progressive lens, and various 'coatings'.
Including examination and top quality frames, I have never paid more than NZD$280.00
The Opticians is called OWNDAYS, and operates in a similar way to SPECSAVERS.
The Japanese lens are top quality too.
I realise Singapore is a long way away, but if you stop in Singapore for a day or two on a stopover or whatever, OWNDAYS are well worth considering.

S J Meredith
09 Jul 2019
Waiting time?

Is a two day stopover long enough? Here in NZ I normally have to wait a week before the glasses come in for fitting.

Rob O.
06 Jul 2019
maybe misleading?

Have had multiple spectacles over the years - spec savers was nearly $1,000 for their widest vision progressives and all the frills - and then you get a free extra pair
But Bailey Nelson this year - was $700 for all of that and my wife got her prescription readers for $149
(Spec savers twice that)

Jane L.
06 Jul 2019
Spec Savers

I bought a pair of glasses with noccupational lenses earlier this year - I already have a pair so I know it can take a wee while for your eyes to get used to them - but I couldn't see out of them. I took them back a couple of times and got told eyes take time to adjust. Finally I got the right person who said I should see the optometrist again - so I did and we changed things and I went back to single vision lenses. Took nearly 6 months but I finally got a pair that I am happy with.

Jane L.
06 Jul 2019
Spec Savers

I bought a pair of glasses with noccupational lenses earlier this year - I already have a pair so I know it can take a wee while for your eyes to get used to them - but I couldn't see out of them. I took them back a couple of times and got told eyes take time to adjust. Finally I got the right person who said I should see the optometrist again - so I did and we changed things and I went back to single vision lenses. Took nearly 6 months but I finally got a pair that I am happy with.

John M.
06 Jul 2019
Buying glasses overseas has been great for me

I've been successfully buying from online American stores, Zenni and Goggles 'r Us, for ten years. Only once have I had a problem, and that was minor. The online store sorted things out quickly and pleasantly. I've never had a bad optical result.

I started with simple prescription reading glasses, but now I buy glasses with progressive lenses and various lens coatings.

The companies have extensive advice pages and I've found them very helpful when I've emailed them for advice. They walk you through the process of measuring various aspects of your face. And you can also learn a lot from YouTube.

Over the years I've saved a fortune.

Grant R.
06 Jul 2019
Overseas purchases

Like this person says, buying glasses overseas can offer huge savings.
My wife and I have both had prescription glasses from Zenni Optical, and they have been good. Mine were just single vision Rx, but my wife has fairly complex Rx for her glasses. As long as you have your latest Rx as well as the various other measurements to do with pupil - width measurements which your optician will have on record from your eye examination. You just have to ask for them when getting a copy of your Rx.
You visit the sight, use their system, take a photo of you face, then upload it to the website, and then try on various frames - on you face photo. If you have all the required measurements, it’s easy. Choose your frame, and then you go through a simple process of choosing the ‘extras’ like blue light filtering, anti-glare coating, etc.
We will be going back there again. We will just pay for an eye exam at a local optician, get all the results, and away you go again. You can save $$$. Just my 2 cents worth.

Robert W.
15 Apr 2021
Me too, but.....

...... the glasses are only as good as the accuracy of the prescription. I’ve had to spend quite a bit getting second opinions on prescriptions. I don’t trust Specsavers. There are limited options in small town NZ. I wish it was like USA where there are opticians that do nothing but eye tests; they do not sell glasses so no conflict of interest. That said, I too have found Zenni a good business to deal with.

William L.
06 Jul 2019
Eye glass repair

Glasses repair can be very expensive (eg welding broken titanium frames). I found that SOSeyewear in Auckland was half the price that a local optician charged, including courier costs, and the optician sent the glasses to the same place

Tim M.
22 Jun 2019
Update to my previous comment.

I recently got new glasses from Specsavers it was a much better deal this time with no hard sell. There were two offers one was free progressive lens on any frames over $169 (A good deal) the second was pay for the progressive lens and choose any pair to the same value for free. I chose the second option and got a pair of progressive prescription sunglasses at no extra cost. No hard sell, no telling me that the more expensive options were better so all in all I'm pleased with the service and glasses that I received.

Peter G.
18 Jun 2019
Companies like Luxottica are notorious for their predatory pricing

This is an issue that's been covered in some detail in US media, companies like EssilorLuxottica put markups of up to one thousand percent (that's 1,000%) on their glasses, and force out anyone that might compete with them. For example the LA Times did a series of stories on this earlier this year, "Why are glasses so expensive?", https://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-why-are-eyeglasses-so-expensive-20190122-story.html, and "How badly are we being ripped off on eyewear?", https://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-glasses-lenscrafters-luxottica-monopoly-20190305-story.html. Vox has also covered it, https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/3/6/18253555/eyeglasses-cost-lenscrafters-essilor-luxottica, with telling quotes like "“You can get amazingly good frames, with a Warby Parker level of quality, for $4 to $8,” said Butler. “For $15, you can get designer-quality frames, like what you’d get from Prada.” Butler added that shoppers could get “absolutely first-quality lenses for $1.25 apiece.”". Luckily NZ has access to $5-10 reading glasses from places like the Warehouse and Countdown that are close to, or in some cases just as good as, multi-hundred dollar ones.

Tim M.
19 May 2019
Very hard to make an informed decision with Specsavers.

There are conflicting offers every time I go in which means it’s hard to compare like for like. Then when you make a decision the hard sell starts and it turns out the glasses you wanted are not suitable for your needs and you need to spend several hundred dollars more. This is based on at least 4 visits by myself and my partner.

kerry-ann w.
11 Aug 2020
Name the store

People talking about " nationwide chains" or whatever need to name the actual store and location so we know where NOT TO GO. Then maybe some of their employees will get to read the comments and change their behaviour.