Review of Glasses Direct

We haven’t had a review for a while, but I thought you might like to hear about my recent experience with Glasses Direct, the online glasses retailer.

glasses direct penny golightly review

In January, I noticed that I was getting a little eye strain in one eye while I was wearing my glasses. It made me wonder whether my prescription had changed, so I went off and had my eyes tested. My prescriptions are free on the NHS because there’s a very strong family history of eye problems (lots of relatives with glaucoma, diabetes, etc), and it turned out that the vision had improved in one eye and worsened in the other, so both eyes were being strained while I had my specs on.

It was high time for some new glasses but it was also January and, like most freelancers at this time of year, I was not feeling flush. After some shopping around on the high street, my attention turned to the online offerings. My prescription isn’t very strong and I don’t need bifocal or varifocal glasses, so I decided that I could probably get away with using an online optician (if it were a more complex prescription then I’d probably stick to the high street as there’s generally more to-ing and fro-ing needed).

Going against my instincts pays off

After hunting around a little, I spotted an offer on a daily deals site. It was £19 for a £55 Living Social voucher to spend at Glasses Direct. I confess that I don’t normally purchase this type of voucher: I’d normally shy away from something that committed me to shopping at a particular retailer in this way, and am suspicious of hidden extra costs and exclusions that might apply. However, I read the small print carefully and there was complete transparency, no nasty surprises and they were open about P&P charges being extra on top.

Next, I had a very thorough look around Glasses Direct. I really liked their own-brand stock, much of which is designer-y without being a direct design rip off, and had a very good look at their £55 frames. There were loads of well-styled frames in this price bracket, so I knew that I could get something I liked for my £19 voucher plus P&P. It was an excellent price and I decided to go for it. I bought my voucher via a cashback website, so I’ll get a small percentage of the purchase refunded eventually too.

Combining special offers for more savings

Then it got really interesting – it turned out that there was a special offer on the site: buy one pair for £55 or above, and get another pair the same value for free. After checking the small print again, it turned out that my Living Social voucher could be used as part of this promotion too. That was perfect, I would be able to have a spare pair of glasses for emergencies, or just two different frames to get two different looks, and no extra cost.

Of course, the real issue with buying online is that you really, really need to try frames on in person before you commit to buying them. Everyone’s different: the width and shape of your face, your eyebrows, the shape of the bridge of your nose, even the shape and position of your ears. So I took advantage of the Glasses Direct free home trial.

Is the home trial any good?

The home trial is the really clever bit of the service. You can have up to four pairs of frames sent to you at a time, and the whole service was very fast and efficient. They’re packaged in boxes that fit through any standard letter box so they arrive quickly and without fuss. Mine arrived less than 48 hours after I ordered them. You have up to seven days to try them on and make your mind up too – actually better than the high street as you have more time. They then go back in the box and back via freepost, and you’re notified quickly when they’ve arrived back.

After two rounds of home trials I had my two pairs of frames, both of which I loved. After some thought, I went for one £65 pair and one £55 pair that suited me the best. Going for the £65 pair meant an additional £10 spend on top of the voucher price and P&P but it was worth it. I made the purchase though a cashback website, so some of that extra £10 will eventually return as cashback.

Ordering and delivery

Then it was a simple procedure to order the lenses. It costs extra to have non-reflective and scratch proof coatings, and ultra-light lenses, but I decided not to go down that route – depends on your lifestyle and strength of prescription though, so you might want to factor that cost in. After that, I was notified that the order would be on its way in between seven and 14 days. The new glasses, complete with hard cases, actually arrived three days after ordering, so no complaints here.

I’m very happy with my purchase and the efficient service, the eye strain has gone away already, and my new frames are really stylish. And last week I was given a small refund on the voucher from Living Social, apparently there was an issue with the pricing so they unexpectedly sent everyone about £2 back. Bonus!

Including refunds and cashback, I managed to bag myself two excellent pairs of specs for just under £30, including delivery. My eyes feel loads healthier too. While the various offers change from time to time, if you’re considering purchasing from Glasses Direct they usually have some kind of offer available, so it’s well worth doing a thorough search for vouchers, voucher codes, on-site discounts and promotions on daily deals sites.

Disclosure: this is a straightforward review. I paid for the vouchers and glasses myself.

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  1. How do you go about getting your prescription? Do you go into a glasses shop like Specsavers and get an eye test done? I would feel really bad about doing that if I had no intention of buing from them. Glasses direct should be able to give you an eye test themselves surely otherwise they really are stealing from the high street optitians.

  2. Hi Barbara, my eye tests are free on the NHS for health reasons. I discussed it with an optician at Boots, they booked me in for the test, and I signed a form that allows the optician to claim the money from the NHS. It’s part of a public health initiative to prevent blindness and the optician is paid for their time. I was given my prescription at the end of the test, and am legally entitled to use any supplier of my choice to provide my glasses. Hope that information is useful.

    1. Thanks for your reply Penny. I’m really bad at hanging on to glasses and since I just use them for reading I buy cheap pairs from a pound shop or other bargain store.

      I’ll keep it in mind though in case my eyes change.

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