Press release: ABDO reponds to Which? Report

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) has responded to a new report from Which? magazine about online spectacle sales.

The magazine found that a quarter of glasses failed the tests for the following reasons: because the actual measurements were too far off what was supplied; they didn’t conform to British Standards; or the lenses were loose and could fall out or be easily rotated. Eleven pairs of glasses drew criticism from experts for poor construction – even taking low price into account. 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.

ABDO President Clive Marchant FBDO says, “The Which? report highlights the reasons why patients should not use online companies to purchase spectacles or lenses and that it could cost more than money in the long term when things go wrong. Spectacles are first and foremost a medical device to aid patients’ visual needs and if the prescription within the lenses are not correct, or if the spectacles are not fitted correctly then they are not fit for purpose. It is important to speak to a qualified dispensing optician to find the best fitting spectacles and suitable lenses to aid your visual needs. Facial measurements and facial characteristics cannot be measured properly unless you have this done face to face. Optical practices offer a variety of spectacles at a wide range of costs to meet all patients’ budgets and for some patients NHS vouchers can be issued to help towards the costs of spectacles.”

He continues, “The remote select of frame even for the most simple prescriptions is not recommended. Dispensing spectacles is a skill which dispensing opticians study for three years, obtaining a degree level qualification. Advice on appropriate eye wear can only be given after lifestyle considerations have been obtained by the dispensing optician who can them make recommendations, frames not only have to look good but they must fit the face and be suitable for the prescription glazed in them. There are thousands of lens options to consider depending on the prescription and life style needs and many measurements are required to ensure the prescription sits correctly in alignment to your eyes. The PD or pupillary distance is only one of these measurements. If the fitting is incorrect the effects can range from visual discomfort to blurred vision making you unsafe in the work place or driving. With young people incorrect fitting can induce lazy eyes or increase myopic progression. Spectacles also have to be fitted once manufactured and will require regular adjustments to ensure the correct alignment and comfort is maintained. Obviously this is not provided by online retailers. Your high street practice will provide a life time of after sales service which is included in the fees paid for spectacles but will charge a fee for fitting and adjust spectacles they have not supplied. Spectacles purchased from an optical practice included professional fees for the advice and services provided by the dispensing Optician. Obviously online purchase can be cheaper but included none of the professional advice your high street practice provides.”




Notes to Editors

  1. Media enquiries to Antonia Chitty, 07538 525476,
  2. Hi res images are available
  3. ABDO represents over 6000 qualified dispensing opticians in the United Kingdom. Registered office, 199, Gloucester Terrace, London W2 6LD.