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Consumers warned over online glasses shopping

11 June 2012 - 13:34 by Graham Miller

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People in the UK regularly turn to the web to buy all sorts of products, from TVs and games consoles to their weekly groceries. But a new study from Which? suggests that we should be considering the dangers associated with picking up certain items via safe shopping online, in order to avoid disappointment and, at worst, damage to our health.

The report focuses specifically on eyewear and the kinds of vision-enhancing glasses that can be purchased from various online outlets.

Unlike getting glasses from your optician, you will need to purchase based on knowledge of your prescription or on your own estimations, which carries its own hazards. In addition, the study found that many of the glasses had innate issues which could be cause for concern.

Of the 36 different pairs of glasses purchased by Which? 15 had issues and the total haul had been picked up from just 13 different e-commerce sites.

The authors of the report found four of the 15 problematic specs to be particularly hazardous, with a number of reasons given. Not matching the advertised prescription was common, while some varifocal lenses were said to have been created based on guesswork about users' pupil position, not actual data.

Of course it is worth pointing out that the problems highlighted by Which? are really all down to individual products and not the retailers offering safe shopping online. But the selling of subpar products is something that should be highlighted, in order to best inform consumers, so that they can make the right decisions further down the line.

Which? does not completely rule out using the web to buy glasses, saying that basic prescriptions can be easily and harmlessly fulfilled if you shop around. But those with more complex optical problems might be better with upfront help.