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Independent Optometrists? What's the difference?

If you're looking for an eye exam or for glasses, two names probably come to mind. These are names that you would see on TV with admittedly hilarious advertisements, or on the back of the referee's jerseys in local rugby matches. 

So what about those other practices that don't fit into either of those categories - what's their deal? Are they trustworthy? How do you know if they are any good? They must be incredulously expensive!

Well...not necessarily! We'll break down the differences below.

Quality of Care


Yes, our optometrists all qualified and come from the same institutions.

What we can say is that from our experience here at Westgate Optometrists, we really put in the effort to provide the best care possible.

A quick summary is provided in the table below:

This may not apply to every independent out there, but we allow anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes for an eye examination for each adult patient.


This doesn't mean you will always need to endure such a long appointment time, but it allows us to be thorough and to spend the time discussing with you our findings, and make recommendations in keeping with our belief in helping you maintain your eye health and sight through holistic, preventative means.

An example may include discussions around any progressing myopia (short-sightedness).


There are treatment options available to slow down the progression, which not only help maintain your vision, but more importantly drastically reduces the chances of eye diseases in the future.

Another common one is in the treatment and recommendations around dry eyes. There are home treatments (as well as in-clinic treatments) available to naturally help improve the comfort of your eyes, without having to rely on constant use of eye drops.

Everyone's experience varies, but that is partly the point. You can be assured that we put in great care and pride ourselves in bringing you the latest research and findings when it comes to your eyes, each and every time.

Quality of Products


Those with experience having worked in both sides of the industry will be able to verify, but there is certainly a difference in what you are getting - and unfortunately sometimes this difference is difficult to show!

Being an independent practice, we are able to choose who we align ourselves with. This also means we get to partner with some of the largest & most advanced lens and frame laboratories around the world.


These include Essilor and Hoya, who spends huge amounts on R&D to continually make improvements in their lens technology.

The lenses we provide utilize these latest advancements, and what you notice is an improvement in the ease and comfort of vision.

  • In progressive lenses, the zone of clear vision would be wider for an equivalent lens compared to what's offered in the corporates. In fact, we daresay our mid-range Physio 3.0 progressive lens will outperform 90% of lenses being offered by any of the corporates.

  • In anti-reflection coatings, these would be the clearest and toughest available - you'll notice that in the scratch guarantee we provide to our premium coatings, which you won't find in the competition.

Where the independents may fall in comparison is in the presence of certain well-known brand names. That's not to say independents do not have quality frames - far from it. The quality is usually better for an equivalent frame with independents, but do know that if you are hung up on having a particular brand, independents may not be able to supply it.

What about the price?


With all those extra benefits, we wouldn't blame you for thinking independents will be much more expensive as a result, but you'd be surprised. You may find that the price you pay at some independents to be comparable, once you start comparing apples to apples.

Here's a quick summary:

As you can see, the prices tend to be reasonably comparable, if not cheaper in some cases for the independents.

With some other competitors, it is not uncommon for some to get hooked into an advertisement touting 2 pairs for $169, and walking out having spent well over $1000 - in fact it happens very regularly. It all depends on the additional features you would like on the lenses.

There is certainly some level of you-get-what-you-pay-for in the industry. If it is much cheaper, it usually is for a reason.

How about the after-support?

I suppose this can be a common concern when dealing with smaller businesses in general. What are they like to deal with, and will they stop providing support and care once they've completed the sale?

As independents, we really do believe in and stand by our products that we dispense - if it isn't right, we will fix it. 

We take responsibility for any potential issues shall it arise and ultimately we want our solutions to work for you. If it isn't working for you then we need to and will address it.


In the end, we hate spending money and not receiving value just as much as you do, and as you're dealing with a smaller team of individuals who all take responsibility for our actions, you can trust that we will carry through with what we say.

You're an independent. Aren't you biased?

Well... yes and no.

What is written above comes from direct experience having worked in the industry, including with said competitor - this comparison merely serves to present the situation as it is.

But it is with this reality in mind that we are firmly dedicated and believe in the value of being independent practitioners in optometry. It would be a disservice for those requiring eye care to not know of a better (in our humble opinion) option out there.

True, not all independents are the same - we can only use ourselves as a yardstick, but most likely you will find many similar features and strengths & weaknesses with other independent optometrists - we're all likely to show greater accountability, and provide more personal eyecare.

If you made it this far, thank you for your time and patience - we try our best to exhibit the very same traits when providing you with your eye care.

If you haven't been with us before and you're still curious, simply mention this article during the appointment to receive $50 off your first consultation with us.

Shall you have any questions you can always reach out to us via email or phone, or just simply pop in to have a chat. 

See you on the flip side!

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