Eyeglass Chain Stores Put to the Test

Optometrists fail three of four major chains in filling prescription glasses.

ByABC News via logo
November 5, 2007, 10:02 AM

Nov. 5, 2007 — -- Optometrists spend years learning how to correct your vision, but that's no guarantee your eyeglasses which can cost hundreds of dollars will be made right.

Almost 30 states do not require a dispensing optician to get a license. One Texas optometrist joked that you could be flipping burgers Monday and fitting eyeglasses Friday.

In the optometry industry, there are precise quality specifications that each pair of eyeglasses has to meet and they are rated on a pass-fail system.

David Schechter, a reporter at ABC News' Fort Worth Texas affiliate WFAA, checked lenses from some of the biggest chain stores in the area and found that most of them failed.

Most patients don't realize their glasses may be causing problems, said one optometrist.

These include "visual stress to headaches to outright blurs in vision," said Texas optometrist David Frazee.

WFAA bought six pairs of glasses from national retail chains and then had them inspected by three optometrists.

They found a variety of defects, and of the six pairs purchased, the optometrists failed four.

In another test, Frazee wrote a sample bifocal prescription and WFAA took the prescription to Target, Wal-Mart, Costco and LensCrafters to get it filled.

The one store to meet accepted industry specifications was also one of the cheapest Costco.

"Every part of the prescription was nailed 100 percent," Frazee said of the Costco glasses.

The three optometrists agreed the glasses from Wal-Mart were well-made, but failed them anyway. The glasses were made with a different material than what the doctor had ordered.

The Target glasses had more significant technical problems. In several key measurements, the power of the lens failed to meet industry standards. And the frame should not have been sold to us in the first place.

"The segment height, or bifocal height, was way too high," Frazee said.