Eye tests pushed back to 2021 - but independents can see you sooner

Ben Conway of Dipple and Conway has said although waits are slightly longer he is seeing customers within a few weeks. Picture: Dipple and Conway/Archant

Ben Conway of Dipple and Conway has said although waits are slightly longer he is seeing customers within a few weeks. Picture: Dipple and Conway/Archant

Dipple and Conway/Archant

Customers trying to book eye tests with major opticians brands may be waiting as late as January but Norfolk’s independents are stepping in to help.

Across Norfolk – particularly in Norwich - people have rushed to get contact lens and glasses check-ups with wait times leading into 2021.

But independents have reassured customers new and existing that their wait times are only weeks instead of months long.

At Dipple and Conway, a family-run practise in the city centre manager Ben Conway, said the wait time was between a week and a half and two weeks.

“Usually it’s only about a week but because of slightly reduced capacity and increased cleaning regimes that has extended our waiting list slightly,” he said.

“Obviously I can’t speak for customers of branded opticians but I know that anecdotally from our customers they’re always very pleased with our service for a couple of reasons.

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“Firstly we have longer appointments – around 40 to 45 minutes as standard and up to an hour and 10 minutes for an extended booking. We also have a hospital grade 3D scanner which few practises have.

“This allows us to take a picture of the whole eye and can identify potential problems up to seven years in advance. It really helps us to build up a picture of your eyes over time and gives our customers reassurance.”

The story is similar at R M Ling Optometrists in North Walsham with director Martin Ling saying wait times had been slightly delayed with priorities made for urgent care.

“We’re keeping back emergency appointments every day for people who really need it. Our waiting list is just over a week and we also have a waiting list of people who are scheduled for a general eye check but aren’t having any problems with their lenses or glasses,” he said.

He added that he too has medical-grade equipment: “It allows us to share scans with hospitals should that be needed.”

It is this focus on customer care which lead this paper to launch the Shop Local campaign, urging readers to shop with independents who do not have parent companies with deep pockets to rely on.

“The benefit of shopping local in general is that we’re not answering to an area manager driving us for sales or targets. We don’t have to continually strive for a group and we can take our time with customers, as well as offering them a range of options because we’re not tied in by suppliers.”

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