Canstar Blue’s review has seen optical stores Specsavers, Optical Superstore, OPSM, National Pharmacies Optical, Bailey Nelson, Laubman & Pank, Eyecare Plus and Oscar Wylee compared and rated on their product range, quality of advice, customer and after-sales service, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Do you care about your eyecare? We often don’t realise our eyesight is starting to fail until it quite literally smacks us in the face! First, we start blaming the bad lighting or the menu font for being written too small to read. Then, before you know it, it all gets a little blurry! Even a whopping 57% of our survey respondents admit their eyesight is not as good as it used to be. While it could be down to one of many reasons, getting your eyes checked regularly is a smart move to avoid future problems. Eye tests could also help identify more than just poor vision, but other health issues, too.
To help you see the light, we asked more than 2,300 Australians for feedback on the optical stores (that are part of a national chain) they visited in the last two years. Respondents rated stores on their product range, quality of advice, customer service, after-sales service, value for money and overall satisfaction. Optical stores that met the minimum required sample size of 30 responses are featured in our final results.
This year, Specsavers had 20/20 vision of what Aussies look for and like in an optical store. It received five-star reviews in most research categories ─ including overall satisfaction.
Here are the best optical stores in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:
Specsavers was the clear winner in our 2021 optical stores ratings after it achieved the only five-star review for overall satisfaction, bumping three-year consecutive winner Eyecare Plus off the chart. Most optical stores featured in this year’s report landed on four stars for overall satisfaction, except Eyecare Plus and Oscar Wylee which ended on three stars.
If you’re particularly concerned about the quality of advice, OPSM and National Pharmacies Optical may be worth keeping an eye on after both chains scored full marks for that category. OPSM additionally achieved five stars for its customer service and after-sales service, while National Pharmacies Optical saw the same result for the product range.
With plenty of optometrists to choose from, it would be worth investigating which one can offer you the best deal – not just on price but also on the overall experience. If you find a chain you like, it could mean you end up having more regular eye tests – which can only be a good thing. Read on to find out a little more about the optical stores featured in this year’s review and what they have to offer.
A global brand, you will find Specsavers stores in more than 300 locations around Australia, with frames and glasses also available to buy online for extra convenience. With plenty of styles, models, and brands available – including the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs and Disney for the kids – Specsavers will likely have you covered, regardless of your preferences. Contact lenses are similarly available for purchase online, with a wide variety of brands and lens types to pick from.
It’s worth mentioning the chain offers ‘Specsavers easypay’, which allows customers to set up a payment schedule, rather than having to pay the full price upfront. Free delivery additionally applies for orders over $79, and different health fund discounts are available.
Specsavers’ bulk-billed eye health checks include OCT scans which, according to the optical store, involve creating a 3D image of the retina to help detect potential eye conditions including glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Each eye health check is also stated to be tailored to individual needs. If you’re looking to address your hearing, as well as your vision, you’ll be interested to know Specsavers offers audiology services around the country, with hearing checks and hearing aids also available at selected stores.
Optical Superstore has close to 100 stores across Australia with a wide variety of men’s, women’s and kids’ glasses and frames to suit all styles and types of eyesight. And with brands including Calvin Klein, Ray-Ban, Gucci and Johnson & Johnson available both in-store and online, there are plenty to choose from. Plus, it offers a selection of contact lenses to order online.
If you’re looking for a deal, Optical Superstore provides several incentives throughout the year that can be found via the ‘Offers’ tab on its website. There are also several types of money-back guarantees, such as for ‘advanced technology’ lens, and multi-coat lens treatments.
You can head to the Optical Superstore website to book an eye test or a more detailed examination at your local store. If you end up falling in love with a pair of frames, free delivery is available for online orders over $95. Prescription contact lenses automatically come with free shipping.
Servicing Australians for more than 80 years, OPSM has long been a staple in the eyewear and eyecare industry. There are almost 400 stores across Australia and New Zealand, but you can also buy frames, sunglasses, and contact lenses through the website. OPSM offers free delivery and free returns for eligible frames, sunnies, and prescription glasses.
If you’re just after a standard check-up, OPSM offers a classic eye test, which can be bulk-billed. The chain also provides more in-depth consultations, such as a contact lens consultation, for those after something more specific.
For those who wear contacts, OPSM offers a subscription Value Plan, which includes a 25% discount on the online retail price, as well as delivery for when you need new contact lenses. Simply sign up on the OPSM website and select how often you would like a delivery, and you won’t have to worry about running out. OPSM also provides free cleaning and adjustments for your specs.
National Pharmacies’ optical department has become one of the most popular places for eyecare and can now be seen in several locations across the country. It currently has standalone optical stores in South Australia and Victoria, and branches in Victoria and New South Wales.
The optical services available at National Pharmacies Optical include your regular eye test, as well as eye examinations for those who wear contact lenses. It also provides CRT (corneal refractive therapy) for existing wearers. You can also choose from a wide range of prescription frames and sunglasses, with members able to receive 20% off the retail price.
Since Bailey Nelson first opened at Bondi Beach in 2012, the national chain now has boutique-style stores spread across Australia, Canada, New Zealand and London. It promises to offer frames at a reasonable price, plus empower individuality and self-expression through its on-trend designs.
Bailey Nelson also runs its own contact lens subscription service, and orders are claimed to ship within three to five days of payment. Delivery is free for orders over $30, and you can adjust the frequency through the website. If your prescription changes, just give the team a copy of your new prescription ─ either in-store or by email.
Similar to other optical stores, Bailey Nelson is a registered provider with all major private health funds. This means they can process your claim on the spot if you bring your health fund card. When purchasing online, you’ll receive an itemised receipt instead, which you can provide to your health fund after.
Laubman & Pank boasts more than 100 years of industry experience, with stores located across Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. As with most optical stores, online purchases for contact lenses can still be made via the website. However, glasses and frames (including sunglasses) are only available in-store for purchase.
Eye examinations and contact lens consultations can be booked online. Different types of tests include the regular visual acuity test, as well as an OCT scan, astigmatism test, peripheral vision test, automated perimetry, and both standard and ultra-wide digital retinal scans. While Laubman & Pank does also offer tele-optometry appointments, allowing customers to get their eyesight checked remotely, these video consultations shouldn’t replace regular in-store eye examinations.
Laubman & Pank offers a range of brands, including Oakley, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Ray-Ban. There is also a range of protective eyewear for those who work in hazardous conditions, in addition to a variety of lenses to help prevent harmful UV damage. Laubman & Pank provides free cleaning and adjustments as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee, but be sure to check the fine print on its website.
With more than 100 stores across Australia, Eyecare Plus is a group of independently-owned optometry practices, all offering a wide variety of services, as well as glasses and lenses to suit different needs. The services include traditional eye-checks, as well as a thorough eye examination, called the ‘Checkup Plus’. This looks at general eye health, clarity of vision, colour vision and eye muscle control, and keeping an eye out for diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. It also checks potential issues like diabetic retinopathy, amblyopia (lazy eye) and presbyopia (focusing ability).
Eyecare Plus also offers several other eye treatments and examinations, including vision therapy and dry eye treatment. Eyecare Plus additionally has several Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) certified optometrists to examine customers who work in the aviation industry.
If you’re after a new set of glasses – or just after some replacement lenses or frames – Eyecare Plus has a wide variety on offer, including progressive lenses and transition lenses, useful for inside and outside the office. Styles and models will vary from store to store. Appointments can be booked online, over the phone or in-store.
Oscar Wylee has come a long way since it began supplying Aussies with specs online and opened its first brick-and-mortar store in 2015. Not just an optical store, but also a glasses brand itself, Oscar Wylee sells a wide variety of sunglasses and optical glasses (including non-prescription). If you’re looking to minimise costs, Oscar Wylee offers two pairs for $199.
Aside from the standard eye check-up, Oscar Wylee offers other types of examinations including a visual field test, dilated pupil test and diabetic eye examination. But unlike many optical stores featured in this year’s ratings, Oscar Wylee does not offer contact lenses or run contact lens assessments.
Did you know one in three (31%) Australians are worried about their eyesight, according to our latest survey? This may explain why the majority of respondents said they get their eyes checked every one to two years (57%). Meanwhile, 26% get tested every six to 12 months, and a very enthusiastic 5% visit their optical store every six months, or more frequently.
On the other end, 12% of adults admitted they get their eyes tested less frequently than every two years – meaning they could probably do with another check-up! While the majority of us are sticking to the recommended frequency (at least once every two years), eyesight can change a lot in that time, so it might be something that we need to… keep an eye on.
With vision care being an important aspect of our health, it becomes a question of who to turn to for those regular eye exams. In our survey, 51% of Aussies said they always visit the same optometrist, with good customer service and support the most common reason for doing so (45%), well ahead of convenience (21%) and price (12%). Ultimately, the frequency with which you visit your optometrist could come down to whether or not you enjoy the experience – and that will depend hugely on the service you receive.
Your eyesight can be a tricky business, with prescriptions and how well you can see as individual as the person, meaning your experience with an optometrist may be completely different to that of someone else. As a result, it’s important to look into what your optical store can do for you, in terms of not only service, but the range of eyewear available as well as its convenience.
With many optometry services available for health fund rebates and discounts, it’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider about what you are covered for, plus if some optometrists have additional benefits to specific health funds to maximise your savings.
Many of us are concerned about our eyesight – one in three (31%) in fact, according to our survey – so whether you go for eye tests every six months or every two years, make sure you seek the answers to the questions you have, or go somewhere else if you’re not totally satisfied with the service you receive.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: nd3000, Shutterstock.com.
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have been to an optical store for an eye test and/or prescription fulfillment in the last two years that is part of a national chain (this refers to full-service optical stores that both offer eye tests and sell products such as glasses and lenses) – in this case, 2,330 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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