Cheapest Glasses

Reporter: David Richardson

Once a medical necessity, now the ultimate fashion accessory, glasses are not nerdy any more. Celebrities have given them specs appeal, but some frames made famous by movie and rocks stars come with a big budget price. "I've ditched my glasses completely because there was no point wearing them. They didn't do anything for my eyes and they were out of fashion and out of style now. My eyes, I have no glasses to wear." says Kristen Woodwood. She has had glasses almost her whole life, had the same style for 9 years, until they grew too weak. Now everything is just a bit blurry, until she can afford to fill her new prescription.

"I went into several different optometrists all round the city and I couldn't afford the out of pocket cost. $800 was the highest." Thanks to the internet and a raft of budget stores, glasses have dropped in price by almost half. Frames now on line for $29, bendable's from $95, even the ultra trendy rimless glasses for less than $200. Big name brands, at a budget price. That's forced companies in this country to offer budget specs, to compete in store against on-line, dollar for dollar.

"It's a competitive industry. We're seeing some very aggressive comparative advertising in optometry." tells Canstar Blue's Steve Mickenbecker. He surveyed 2,500 customers and asked simply how happy they were with their optometrist. "Then we looked at things like price, there's accessibility to the store, there's the range of spectacles, there's the service you get when you're there and if something goes wrong, what's the after sales service like."

They came up with the top six, headed by Budget Eyewear with a 5 star ranking.

3 companies tied for second, Just spectacles, Laubman and Pank and OPSM.

Optical Superstore and Specsavers earning 3 stars.

All the people surveyed had bought their glasses at a store, not online.

"I think some spectacles have been very expensive in the past and many times people were paying for the label itself, a pair of Versace glasses is going to be a lot more expensive than a pair from the Queensland Cancer Council. That's just a fact of life." tells Doctor Brad Horburgh, President of the Australian Society of Opthamologists.. He welcomes the lower prices, even the internet's competition, but he has this warning.

"I think there's an element of buy beware. There's a good reason people don't buy motor vehicles on-line because they expect after-sales service, and I think glasses are no different." He recommends home grown internet purchases before looking off-shore, and make sure you can exchange them if they're not right. "The quality will vary but I think it is safe to say they'll do the job perfectly adequately."

Peter Larsen is Managing Director of Specsaver one of the budget companies behind the push to lower the prices of our specs. "You've got great designer products starting from $199 for designer products for two pairs of glasses out there. you don't have to pay a fortune. Our glasses start from $59 and they include Pentax single vision lenses. They come with a two year manufacturing warranty." The most expensive is made from titanium. "This is the most expensive set of glasses in our stores. Was $499, now $399 and that includes two pairs of glasses."But by far the most popular style and value for money, is the $199 range and lower. "Here you've got a country road frame, this is our biggest selling frame range, $199 gets you lenses and it also gets you another pair."

For information on the top optometrists and contact details:

www.blue.canstar.com.au

www.specsavers.com.au

www.budgeteyewear.com.au