Online optical stores

Online optical stores are undercutting bricks-and-mortar retailers by a wide margin, but they can make critical mistakes.
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Spectacles can easily set you back several hundred dollars, and if you need multifocal glasses the starting price can be $500 or more. So it’s no surprise that aggressively discounted online deals can be tempting.

But our shadow shop found that if you don't do your research before shopping for glasses online, you can end up with the wrong prescription, or frames and lenses that don’t fit.

  • The risks are worse with multifocal (progressive) glasses, since the online script you fill out may not include all the measurements needed to correctly make and fit the glasses. Read more about multifocal lenses here.
  • Three out of four pairs of multifocal glasses we ordered online had major problems. Read more about the shadow shop here.
  • Experts told us this is less of an issue with single-vision glasses, since they’re easier to manufacture and all measurements are usually on your script. This is also what we heard from CHOICE members while researching this story. Additionally, our UK sister organisation, Which?, recently tested single-vision glasses and found eight out of nine ordered from online stores passed their tests.
  • Australia’s largest health funds, Medibank Private and Bupa, don’t pay benefits for purchases at many online stores, so any savings made could be smaller than you first calculate.

Do try this at home

A number of online retailers allow you to try their frames at home before committing to an order. Two in particular, Oscar Wylee and Sneaking Duck, send you up to five pairs for free, including shipping.



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