Spectacles buying guide

A price war has broken out in the optical industry. CHOICE’s shadow shop will help you assess your next pair of specs – and save plenty.
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Passed all tests




Brand: R&B
Retailer: Budget Eyewear
$250 ($200 without anti-reflective coating)



RayBan Rayban
Brand: Ray-Ban
Retailer: OPSM
$348 ($249 without anti-reflective coating)




Minor problems

Country Road country road

Brand: Country Road
Retailer: Optical Superstore
$175 ($125 without anti-reflective coating)
Borderline pass result for optical tolerance, but of acceptable quality. 




 specsavers specsavers

Brand: Specsavers Marvin
Retailer: Specsavers
$199.25 ($149.25 without anti-reflective coating) 
Borderline pass result for optical tolerance, but of acceptable quality




Armani emporioarmani

Brand: Emporio Armani 
Retailer: Big W Vision
$218 ($158 without anti-reflective coating) 
One lens failed the minimum lens thickness test, but we rate it as being of acceptable quality as it passed the impact resistance test.


 How we tested

Testing was undertaken by the Optics and Radiometry Laboratory of the University of NSW. The R& B spectacles from Budget Eyewear and the Ray-Ban spectacles from OPSM passed all our tests. Big W Vision (Emporio Armani), Optical Superstore (Country Road) and Specsavers (Specsavers Marvin) showed one small problem each.

Optical tolerance test
Are the lenses made according to the prescription? One lens each from Optical Superstore (Country Road)  and Specsavers (Specsavers Marvin) only rated a borderline pass for this test. To correct the refractive error for our shadow shopper, the left lens should have had a refractive power of -1.50D on one of the meridians, but the left lenses of the Optical Superstore and Specsavers pairs had refractive powers of -1.58D and -1.57D respectively. A variation of up to -1.59D is allowed to pass the test, however the instrument used in testing has an uncertainty of measurement of +/-0.03D. If 0.03 is added to the results, the lenses fail the test; if deducted, they are well within tolerance.
If the refractive power is wrong, this can cause blurriness, headaches or difficulty adapting to the new spectacles. In the case of the two lenses above, the variation is likely to be too small to cause problems, so we rated these lenses as being of acceptable quality.

Thickness of the lens
This test is for impact resistance and security within the frame (if thickness is low, the lens may be less secure in the frame).
Lenses must have a minimum thickness of 2mm. The Big W Vision (Emporia Armani) left lens was only 1.8mm, but the lens passed the impact resistance test so we rate it as being of acceptable quality.

All the specs passed the following tests without any further problems: 

  •  Material and surface quality of lens (including the lens thickness test). 
  •  Bridge strength – a 250g weight determines the resistance of the bridge to bending. 
  •  Corrosion resistance – salt spray is applied and frames are checked for discolouration. 
  •  Low-impact resistance – a 42g weight is dropped on the lens from 1.8m.

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