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Cheap specs could cause you headaches

Our expert finds faults in ready-made glasses

Glasses resize

Buying off-the-peg glasses may be easy on your wallet, but our snapshot investigation found that some could put your eyes under too much strain. 

We asked an expert optometrist to assess 18 pairs of ready-made specs bought from 11 high street chains, including Poundstretcher.

Although our expert found the magnification was correct in all pairs – so the lens power matched the stated prescriptions – tests revealed other faults in eight pairs we bought from stores including Boots and Superdrug, as well as two pairs from the major brand Foster Grant. 

Make sure you know your shopping rights – check out our online guide on how to return faulty products.

Faults could cause dizziness 

The faults detected could cause symptoms in the wearer, such as headaches due to eye strain, slight dizziness and even double vision.  

We found three faults in a pair of Clarifeye glasses from Poundstretcher, costing £2.99. The lenses were not centred correctly (prism), the lenses were distorted and they were loose in the frame. 

We also found the lenses not centred correctly in two pairs of £18.50 Foster Grant glasses bought from Superdrug and a pair of £27.50 Style H glasses from Boots. This fault could strain the eyes. 

Quality varies 

Price was not a reliable indicator of quality in our snapshot test. Without knowing the brands, our expert judged the priciest pair costing £27.50 from Boots as more faulty than a £4 pair from Tiger.

Quality also varied between the same brands and retailers. Based on these results, we think it’s hard for you to know which brands or retailers you can rely on. 

So use our handy tips to help you choose:

• Pick glasses protected by packaging
• Check lenses for obvious dents or scratches
• Make sure frame is marked with industry standard markings such as ‘CE’
• Ensure the frame fits comfortably
• Try them out. You should be able to read easily for two minutes
• If you buy them from an optician, ask for the lens power and centre positions to be checked
• Buy plastic rather than cheap metal frames, which can break easily
• Get a pair with a spring hinge for a better fit. Avoid plastic hinges
• Do they have a warning? They should warn you not to drive while wearing them.

 More on this…

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