Members of the public have been sharing their “alarming” experiences of eye tests after a report uncovered two in five high street opticians deliver “poor” or “very poor” services.
The Which? report warned that patients are receiving inaccurate and potentially dangerous prescriptions, with some professionals missing vital symptoms of serious eye conditions.
The Which? researchers acknowledged that their report could only provide a “snapshot” of the state of eye care in the UK, as they conducted a relatively small review of just 30 appointments.
But comments left on HuffPost UK’s Facebook page in relation to the story suggest the problem could be far-reaching, with Specsavers and Boots Opticians repeatedly coming under fire. Asda opticians, which was flagged in the Which? report, was also mentioned.
Despite the poor levels of care highlighted, any optician you visit in a high street chain or independent shop must be qualified by law.
To conduct eye examinations for the public, optometrists (sometimes simply referred to as opticians) must be registered with The General Optical Council (GOC). They must have also completed an undergraduate degree in optometry.
In addition, dispensing opticians - the people who fit and supply the most appropriate glasses after an eye test - must be GOC registered and must show evidence of relevant qualifications to do so.
While the majority of Facebook comments HuffPost UK received detailed negative experiences, some members of the public did comment to praise opticians, particularly those at independent branches.
In response to the Facebook complaints, a spokesperson for Boots Opticians told HuffPost UK: “At Boots Opticians, care for our customers is at the heart of what we do. Our optometrists are trained and qualified eye health specialists, and we follow guidance set out by the College of Optometrists.
“We take this feedback seriously, but we need further information on the specifics to be able to fully assess and respond to your claims.”
A Specsavers spokesperson said the company is “committed to providing professional and value-for-money eye care and welcomes all feedback as part of [its] ongoing efforts to offer the best service to customers”.
“All optometrists will use their own professional judgement to determine which procedures are appropriate for each individual consultation,” they told HuffPost UK.
“We support our optometrists to learn and to share best practice through delivery of a sector leading comprehensive training and development programme. In the last year alone, more than 2,000 of our optometrists have successfully completed further training.
“We too recognise the insights that can be provided by a mystery shopper programme which is why we carry out more than 3,000 mystery shopper visits of our own every year. This, along with our feedback survey, which produces around 15,000 responses each week helps to inform how we can further improve our services.”
In response to the Which? report, an Asda spokesperson said: “We feel the Which? Review provided doesn’t reflect the standards maintained across our total optical offering, we welcome all customer feedback so that we continuously improve our service.”
HuffPost UK asked Asda if it would like to provide further comment relating to the Facebook comments and is awaiting response.