Perhaps I Shouldn't Have Gone to Specsavers...

One customer's horror story of trusting his eyes to a negligent optometry chain

by Bill White

Back in April 2019, it was time for a new pair of glasses so I went to my local Specsavers store in Blackpool Lancashire.

With more than 30-years' in the business and nearly 2,000 locations in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Australia and New Zealand, the company's brand recognition and reputation is noteworthy, to say the least.

An eye exam was performed and my prescription was determined and then I selected a pair of glasses. After paying, I waited 7 days for the glasses to arrive. During that time I had decided to order a second pair of glasses. The first pair were varifocal, in other words, a prescription for distance and part of the lens reserved for reading or close-up work.

I wanted the varifocal glasses for driving and to use with my computer. The Specsavers employee who performed the measurements appeared to know what she was doing. The second pair of glasses were intended for distance; walking or driving, etc.

Immediately after I received the glasses, I had difficulty with the varifocal lenses. They were useless while driving because I couldn't see the car's GPS or the dashboard directly in front of me and at work, I couldn't see my computer. So I visited Specsavers and explained what was happening and I was told that I "needed time to get used to the frames". The employee told me that it "took time to become accustomed to varifocal lenses" and so I returned home. In fact, the problem was that the frame I chose, with varifocal lenses, were simply not suitable for use with my computer and didn't work well with anything directly in front of you. I use a very large screen desktop computer. The angle is all wrong for using these types of frames, with varifocal lenses. The employee at Specsavers should have known that because I told her the type of computer I use.

So, a week after visiting Specsavers I gave up using the varifocals altogether. I simply didn't wear glasses while I worked and that's how it was for the next eight months.

The other glasses I absolutely had to use because I need glasses to drive. These glasses were made only for distance and they appeared to work, but I had regular headaches, which I did not immediately associate with the glasses. The headaches became so bad that they would wake me up at night and continued throughout the day, but I needed to wear the glasses, so I soldiered on still unaware of the cause.

I visited Specsavers again and told them about the severe headaches and they suggested that it was unrelated to my glasses, perhaps stress, and referred me to see my GP. Over the next eight months, I was seen by my GP six times. My doctor performed a myriad of tests at her surgery and at the local hospital; including multiple blood tests, stress tests, regular blood pressure tests and eventually, she referred me to a private clinic for an MRI, telling me that [we] "need to rule out a brain tumour".

Anyone who has seen a photo of me posted online will notice that I was placing my glasses above my head, primarily because they hurt to wear. If I used the varifocals they didn't work close up as intended and if I wore the other, distance glasses, they hurt to look through.

By this time my eyes were watering constantly and I would wake each morning with pus-filled eyes, caked shut and I began to worry that I was losing my eyesight. My GP suggested possible glaucoma and told me to go back to Specsavers or another optometrist.

I returned to Specsavers and explained that the headaches continued and were quite severe and that my eyes were now constantly watering and pus-filled day and night. The employee at Specsavers sold me a bottle of eye drops, costing £7.95, telling me that the watering and pus was likely caused by dry eyes.

A couple of days later, not able to bear the headaches and uncomfortable state of my watering, pus-filled eyes and unable to function fully at work, etc., I made an appointment at Boots Opticians.

At Boots, another series of eye tests were performed. I had my Specsavers' prescription with me and the optician at Boots confirmed that the prescription was correct. The problem the optician explained was that the glasses made by Specsavers were nowhere close to my prescription. He explained that in his opinion the headaches, watering and pus were all being caused by my continued use of the wrong prescription.

Boots' optician sent me back across the street to Specsavers and told me to explain what he'd found. The initial response by the Specsavers' employee was to suggest that Boots' equipment could be out of adjustment. But, the woman who said that to me took my glasses upstairs to have them tested and immediately returned with the Manager, who told me they would be making two new pair of glasses for me.

Eight months of severe headaches, being unable to work, anxiety, watering eyes, filled with pus and repeated visits to my GP, the hospital and a private clinic, not to mention three return visits to Specsavers, who naturally wanted to sell me a bottle of eye drops... and all because Specsavers didn't check my glasses when they arrived from their Lab to make sure that the prescription was correct.

Can you spell NEGLIGENCE?

I knew you could.


Bill White is CEO of WireNews.