College of Optometrists funded study comparing over 300 pairs of spectacles -found participants prefer shop bought specs over those bought online.
A study commissioned by The College of Optometrists found that, when comparing spectacles bought online and those bought and fitted in optometric practices, customers preferred shop bought spectacles.
The study, published in the leading American journal Optometry and Vision Science, found that customers preferred shop-bought spectacles fitted by practice staff, ranking them higher overall than those bought online. Researchers from the University of Bradford and Cardiff University compared 154 spectacles bought online with 155 spectacles from UK optometric practices. Participants completed a questionnaire on vision, comfort, fit, and how acceptable and safe the spectacles felt and all participants and spectacles were assessed at the University of Bradford eye clinic for clarity of vision, ocular muscle balance and fit and quality of the spectacle frames and lenses.
Mike Bowen, Director of Research for the College of Optometrists, said: “This study is important, not just because it’s the first of its kind, but also because of the rise in online purchasing. It’s important that optometrists explain to patients that someone trained in dispensing, can guide on the shape, fit and appropriateness of a certain pair of spectacles over another, which is particularly important for the elderly. As a sector, we need to prepare for the changing ways in which customers are shopping and ensure that consumers are getting a high-quality service from whatever platform they choose to purchase.”
Professor David Elliott, Professor of Clinical Vision Science at the University of Bradford and principal investigator in the study said: “The results of this research should help patients understand the possible adverse effects of spectacles not being supplied correctly. This is particularly important for older patients wearing bifocals and varifocals, as frail, elderly patients need their multifocal spectacles to be fitted carefully due of the increased risk of falls in this group.”
309 spectacles bought online and in retail shops (where they were dispensed by practice staff), were compared by survey participants. All spectacles were then assessed at the eye clinic of the University of Bradford for participant preference, indication of acceptability and safety (based on fit, appearance, fitting height distance being outside tolerance, amongst others), lens and frame quality and fitting and lens prescription. Preference, indication of acceptability and safety factors were measured by participants, lens and frame quality, fitting and lens prescription were assessed by an experienced dispensing optician at the eye clinic.
This research is an example of the important projects funded by the College of Optometrists. This membership year, beginning on 1 October, will see a new opportunity for members, organisations and the public to support the College’s research work. It is now inviting donations to allow individuals and organisations to play a part in the College’s work to develop evidence that is capable of advancing the profession, reduce preventable vision loss and providing accessible, high quality, eye care for all.