After surveying more than 6,000 Which? members to find the best and worst places to buy glasses and get your eyes tested, we can reveal that independent opticians have come out on top yet again.
As in previous years, independent optician stores have received the highest customer score from members. This year, though, first place is shared as a branded store achieved the same high score – but it’s not one of the largest chains.
We asked members to rate their opticians stores on everything from thoroughness of eye tests to the quality of glasses, price, value for money, customer service and the store environment.
Our survey revealed that you might see savings if you have your eyes tested and buy glasses in separate places, as some opticians excelled at one more than the other. And buying glasses online could be a savvy choice, because members rated online opticians highly for value for money.
To find out how big chains such as Boots, Optical Express and Specsavers fared, and which brand was as well regarded as the independents, see our full breakdown of the best and worst opticians for 2019.
Best opticians: what makes them so great?
Independent optician stores received five stars – the maximum – for customer service, thorough eye-testing, quality products and the store environment. A lot of members who use local or independent opticians told us they’ve been going to the same one for years and appreciate the personal touch.
The highest-rated brand achieved the same customer score as the independents – 87% – with an almost identical set of star ratings across the board, only scoring slightly less for store environment and ease of booking an appointment. One member said: “The costs are far lower than other places but I would still go even if they were the same.”
Eye testing vs buying glasses
65% of our survey respondents buy their glasses at the same place they get their eyes tested. But it might be worth splitting your time between brands, as some are rated better for eye testing than buying glasses, and vice versa.
One brand is in our top three best places to buy glasses but comes near the bottom (ninth out of 13) for eye testing. It was rated lower for dealing with eye health problems than other brands.
The range of scores for eye testing was the widest. Independent optician stores topped the chart at 91%, while the brand at the bottom scored 59%.
Which opticians are best for price?
Larger chains were let down by price and value for money, according to our survey. One of the big high street chains got just two stars for these measures, combined with a few comments reporting up-selling and confusing pricing structure.
One supermarket chain is the only bricks-and-mortar brand with five stars for price, although this comes at the expense of a good store environment. Some customers remarked upon the busy supermarket atmosphere that isn’t very private, and it had the lowest rating of all the brands on this measure.
Online optician stores scored well across the board for price in our survey.
Where to buy glasses online
Only a minority of Which? members that we surveyed have bought glasses online, with nearly half (46%) of them buying from Glasses Direct. Customer satisfaction is relatively high among people using online opticians compared with bricks and mortar stores.
Glasses Direct gets a pretty good customer score, but it wasn’t the highest-rated online optician store overall. While all of the online stores scored well for price and value for money, the lowest rated online shop scored slightly less for the overall delivery process and the ease of using the website.
Buying online can be convenient, but you need to be extra careful to get the right glasses for you. Before you shop, see our guide to buying glasses online for the full results and buying tips.
Glasses explained – how to get the best glasses for you, including understanding your prescription and the options available.