General Questions

Are all opticians the same?

Simply put, no. While on the surface all opticians offer similar services and products, the approach to delivering them can differ dramatically. At Clapham Optical we are dedicated to providing you with the highest level of clinical care and the highest quality products so that you feel confident in your choices. An independent optician, such as Clapham Optical, is also more likely to have an established reputation within the community, have a friendly approach and be able provide greater continuity of care.

How should I choose which local opticians is right for me?

The most important thing is to find an opticians that can meet, or hopefully exceed, your expectations. At Clapham Optical we believe in doing things right and while this might not mean being the cheapest or the fastest, we’re confident that you will leave with the peace of mind that your eyes have been thoroughly examined, that your glasses look and feel great and that you can see the world more clearly. You also need to feel comfortable that, should anything not be to your satisfaction, you can return and that we will do what it takes to put things right.

What’s the difference between an optometrist and an optician?

The term optician is a generic term that is used for a registered professional, either an ophthalmic optician (or optometrist),a dispensing optician or a contact lens optician. The term optician is also commonly used in reference to the physical setting in which we operate.

An ophthalmic optician is a healthcare professional, trained to perform eye examinations, issue a prescription for spectacles or contact lenses and detect certain eye conditions and diseases, such as glaucoma.

A dispensing optician is professionally qualified to interpret your prescription to design and fit your spectacles. A dispensing optician can gain further qualifications to become a contact lens optician, specialising in prescribing contact lenses and performing lens aftercare to ensure eye health.

Eye Examination

Is an eye test the same, regardless of where I go?

No. While the qualifications required to perform an eye examination may be the same, you will find that the time taken to perform an examination and discuss the results will vary. You will also find the level of technology available can differ considerably. At Clapham Optical we invest in the latest technology, such as our 3D-OCT, allowing us to perform a more detailed examination and giving a better chance of detecting serious, but treatable eye conditions.

How much does an eye exam cost and do all opticians charge the same?

The cost of an eye examination will vary from optician to optician, depending on the time taken to examine your eyes and the investment made in more advanced technology, such as OCT retinal scanners.

At Clapham Optical we provide all private clients with an enhanced eye examination as standard. This appointment is different to the basic sight test often experienced at larger chain opticians, lasting 45 - 60 minutes and includes a detailed 3D scan of your retina. The cost of our enhanced eye exam is just £50.

If you are entitled to help from the NHS towards your eye care, you can choose our enhanced eye exam at the reduced cost of only £28.29. Alternatively, you can have a short, standard NHS Sight Test at no cost to yourself.

Do I really need a more advanced eye examination, such as an OCT scan?

Our standard examination is very thorough and allows us to check your vision, issue you with a prescription for glasses or contact lenses and assess the health of your eyes, detecting and monitoring the immediate signs of eye conditions or disease. The advantage of an OCT exam is in being able to detect any conditions, such as macular degeneration or diabetes, at the earliest possible stage, giving the best chance to manage or treat such conditions and minimise the impact on your vision.

How often should I get my eyes tested?

It is recommended that you have a routine eye examination every two years, or more frequently if recommended by your optometrist. Certain conditions, such as diabetes or glaucoma will normally require an annual examination. Your eye examination is an important health check and can be one of the earliest opportunities to reveal many underlying health problems, so it is important to follow your optometrist’s advice regarding when to attend for an eye examination.


I’ve had my eyes tested at Clapham Optical, can I buy glasses elsewhere?

You are free to take your prescription and purchase glasses wherever you choose, although the advice given by the General Optical Council is that you should have your eyes examined and buy your glasses from the same retailer, as this will ensure greater continuity from exam to dispense and make it easier to resolve any problems that may arise.

I can buy cheaper glasses elsewhere, why are yours more expensive?

At Clapham Optical we are very selective when deciding which products to offer you. Ensuring that our frames and lenses provide you with a minimum of two years, trouble-free wear leads us to recommend and stock products of higher quality and inevitably they cost a little more as a result. However, with frames starting from as little as £20 and our preferred lenses having a two year anti-scratch guarantee, we do offer exceptional value for money.

Can I buy my glasses online?

Yes, however we would strongly advise against it. Obtaining your prescription is just the first step towards getting glasses and how your prescription is interpreted and made into a pair of glasses is critical in terms of how well they work. At Clapham Optical we use qualified dispensing opticians to make sure that frame selection, lens choice and the crucial measurements are perfectly suited to your individual needs, in order to achieve the best vision possible. The nature of an online purchase makes this impossible, potentially resulting in sub-standard glasses that may not be fit for purpose.

I might need varifocals but I’ve heard bad things. Should I be worried about trying them?

Not at all. Modern varifocal lens technology means that there is almost certainly a lens design available that will work perfectly for you. However, a varifocal lens is a complex optical device and great care needs to be taken in selecting a suitable lens for your individual needs and making sure the frame fit and lens positioning is perfect. At Clapham Optical, our dispensing team will take the time and care required and offer honest advice to guarantee you’re perfectly happy with your new glasses. In the unlikely event you are not satisfied with your new varifocals, we will happily exchange them under our 30-Day Varifocal Guarantee.

Contact Lenses

Is my prescription suitable for contact lenses?

Almost certainly. At Clapham Optical, our position as independent opticians gives us access to all the leading manufacturers and with the vast range of contact lenses available today there are lenses for virtually all prescriptions, whether you need toric lenses to correct astigmatism, multifocal lenses to help with reading or simple single vision lenses for general vision.

Are contact lenses difficult to get used to?

While they require a bit of practice to handle and time to get used to having something on your eye, most people take to contact lenses quite quickly. Advances in contact lens technology, particularly when it comes to lens materials means that they are more comfortable and healthier for the eyes than ever before. At Clapham Optical, our contact lens specialist will take the time to discuss your needs and find a lens that is perfect for you.

I have regular contact lens checks, why do I still need an eye exam?

Yes. A routine contact lens aftercare appointment is focused on the front of the eye, checking the health of the cornea and surrounding areas and assessing your vision with your contact lenses. A full eye examination is still required (usually every 2 years, unless we advise you differently) in order to obtain a full prescription, as well as to check the overall health of the eye. To comply with the regulations controlling contact lens supply, failure to attend regular, full eye examinations will lead to us having to cease supply of your contact lenses.

Can I sleep in my lenses?

While there are some lenses that are suitable for overnight wear, it is important that you are thoroughly assessed for suitability before sleeping in contact lenses. Sleeping in lenses that are not licensed for overnight wear or if you are unsuitable due to the health of your eyes, can lead to complications that could mean you have to permanently cease contact lens wear and in the worst cases can damage your vision.

Can I buy my lenses from the internet?

Yes, you can, however here at Clapham Optical we would advise against it. Many online retailers are either not authorised suppliers, are selling lenses that they hold in stock (which may have a short shelf life as a result), importing cheap products from abroad or ‘switch selling’, a practice of swapping you from your normal lenses to one of their own brand at a lower price, something which goes against the regulations governing contact lens supply and could result in poor comfort and vision correction.

We also feel that we offer great value for money, so why buy online? Either join our Total Care Contacts scheme and get your lenses, solutions, aftercare and more great benefits for an affordable, secure, monthly Direct Debit or opt to wear lenses on a PAYG basis, where you get your lenses at prices often near to, or sometimes less than, internet prices and pay separately for your check ups and solutions.

For best value, we recommend joining our Total Care Contacts scheme.

Children’s Eye Care

When should my child have their first eye exam?

We would normally recommend that children have their eye’s examined just before they start school. As the visual pathways are fully developed by the age of eight, it is crucial that children have regular eye exams from an early age and that any problems are detected and treated as early as possible. Signs that may show a problem with your child’s vision may include excessive blinking or rubbing of the eyes, sitting too close to the TV or looking cross-eyed.

Do I have to pay for my child’s examination with you?

No, all children under the age of 16 automatically qualify for a free NHS Sight Test. If remaining in full-time education, this exemption carries on until the age of 19.

If required, children also qualify for an NHS voucher towards the cost of glasses. At Clapham Optical we have a great range of glasses that are completely free with an NHS voucher or alternatively you can use the voucher towards any other frames including our kid’s designer ranges, including Ray-Ban and Nike.

Are contact lenses suitable for children?

There is no minimum age requirement for contact lens wear, but often there is some apprehension in giving children contact lenses, both from parents and some opticians. However, contact lenses offer many benefits for all patients, but there may be greater benefits for children, including greater self-confidence from improved appearance, increased protection from UV exposure (with certain lenses), avoiding frequent breakage of glasses and better compliance with full-time vision correction.

NHS Entitlement to Eye Care

Am I entitled to a free NHS sight test?

Many people are entitled to a free NHS Sight Test including those aged under 16, under 19 (if in full-time education) or over 60. Certain medical conditions, such as Glaucoma, also qualify you for a free NHS Sight Test, as do certain benefits, including Income Support or Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit.

Full details of all qualifying NHS exemptions can be found on our ‘NHS Examinations & Entitlement’ page.

I have an NHS voucher towards the cost of glasses, what am I entitled to?

The value of the voucher you receive will depend on your prescription and the type of correction required (e.g. single vision or multifocal lenses). At Clapham Optical you can use the voucher towards any of our frames and lenses, so you are not limited to a small range of budget frames that, frankly, rarely look great! With us, you have access to our full range of exciting, niche eyewear that you'll love to wear and the NHS voucher helps to reduce to usual price.

How often can I have an NHS Sight Test?

Generally, most people should have their routine eye examination every two years. Sometimes more frequent examinations are recommended, such as for children or those with some eye conditions that need closer monitoring. Your optometrist will advise you of your recommended re-examination period at the end of consultation.

There are quite strict rules regarding how frequently you can have an NHS sight test, so it is important to follow the advice from your optometrist. However, under some circumstances, early re-examination is possible. If you have any concerns about your vision or eye health between appointments, please contact us and we discuss the options available and whether an early NHS sight test will be possible.

I’ve broken my NHS funded glasses, can I have a new pair?

If eligible, you are only entitled to one NHS voucher towards the cost of spectacles each time you have your eyes tested, so should you break your glasses in between examinations, we will be unable to issue another voucher or NHS funded glasses.

In the event that you do damage or break your glasses bring them in to us as it may not be as bad as it seems and we may simply be able to repair the damage rather than having to replace the whole pair of glasses. You may even find that the damage is covered by our extensive guarantees.