Make the most of your optical benefits

Dr Gordon Burnham-King, an advanced specialist in optometry, offers the following pointers around optical benefits and making sure you get the best value.


The essential component of the optometry benefit is the optometric examination. The health of an eye is critical, and is often an early indicator of other health issues. Consult an optometrist who does a thorough examination, including an internal and external examination of the eye and assessment of ocular motor function, to build a thorough case history. This is the first priority. After that comes the level of vision, and the appliance required to improve one’s vision, if necessary.


The appliance (spectacles or contact lenses) is where much of the confusion around optometry benefits occurs. With many thousands of different lens and frame options available, it is tempting to just accept the optometrist’s recommendations. Most optometrists have their favourite brands of lenses and frames. For most spectacle wearers, however, there is very little perceivable difference between a good quality and a supreme quality lens or frame. But the price difference can be huge.

So how do you best utilise your optical benefit?

  • Use an optometrist who is focussed on how well you will see, rather than on how good you will look.
  • Be conscious of the price of the frame. If you can’t find the look you want at a price that suits you, ask for other options, or shop around. The frame and lenses do not have to come from the same provider.
  • If the cost of the frame and lenses are leaving you with a large portion to pay, ask to see alternative, lower-cost options, and ask what real difference it will make to you. You can even shop around, by taking your prescription to alternate providers for their recommendations and a quote.
  • Often add-on services such as tinting and anti-glare treatments are extremely expensive, so make sure you find out what additional costs these add-on services will be, before simply agreeing to it.

See more about your optical benefits for 2021 in our latest member guide!