Many of the reviews in Edinburgh Reviews are positive because this site is a loss-making hobby in which I write about stuff I like.
It’s rarely fun to grumble about a local business, so it’s a delight to have the opportunity to tell the world how great Downes Opticians in Leith are.
It’s a private business (also with a branch in North Berwick), and they always have impressed. I joined as a recommendation, one that I’m thankful for. My eyes have never been safer.
During my health crisis, I have prescribed some drugs with known side effects that could significantly harm my already poor sight. I had to get my vision benchmarked and checked. Downes did this without faff and with both confidence and experience. I felt safe.
Later, I was taken off that drug and put on something else. For years afterwards, Downes read my notes before each appointment and paid extra attention during my eye checks.
Eye appointments and service
I’m not an expert, but I feel that Downes is not short on the latest optician and eye care technology.
Yes, I sit in the chair and read letters from a digital display at the back of the room. It’s a comfortable chair, as is the weird steampunk eye gear all customers wear for the test.
However, I’ve also had my eyes examined with various machines that blink to get my pupil to focus or blow puffs of air into my eye for reasons I understood at the time but dare not try to paraphrase here.
I’ve seen these digital photographs in my files and reviewed them with the optician to discuss the findings.
Getting into the chair is easy too. I held off making my most recent appointment, not just because it was my first of the pandemic era but because I have a new job, which isn’t nearby and neither time nor the desire to use my one half-day holiday left. This wasn’t a problem for Downes; they open on Saturday and booked me in for the following weekend. I should have called earlier!
In summary, the service is excellent.
Glass and eye care selection
When I want glasses, I try to avoid EssilorLuxottica glasses. That’s a huge company which pretty much owns all the glasses brands you can think of. Why are frames so expensive? Ask EssilorLuxottica.
As a snapshot, EssilorLuxottica own;
- Vogue Eyewear
- And others
Under license they make glasses for;
- Armani Exchange
- Dolce & Gabbana
- Michael Kors
- Ralph Lauren
And they own locations like;
- Sunglasses Hut
I asked Downes if they stocked anyone other than Luxottica, and they did. In fact, all but one of their ranges come from indie brands. Furthermore, I couldn’t quite remember nor pronounce Luxottica and probably said Lucozade, or Lucifier-ota, or ltttsspspsh and they still knew what I was talking about.
The patience of a saint must be required when helping someone pick new frames, and Downes always displays it.
My glasses are tinted too, which was especially helpful when it hurt even to raise my hands to my face as it meant lenses turned themselves into sunglasses automatically. I also think it’s worthwhile getting the anti-screen glare coating.
My last visit
My last visit to Downes reminded me that while reviews of Edinburgh opticians are hardly a thing like glamourous foodie pics, I should write one for Downes.
I’ve already said how they fitted me in at short notice on a Saturday. I eventually made the booking because my glasses kept falling off my head. They were years and years old, and one arm had been mangled, so I booked, expecting to pay the hundreds of pounds necessary for new frames and fancy new frames.
Except; I didn’t have to.
It was the opinion of the optician that I could wait before getting new lens.
Back in the central area, they took my plastic frames away, applied heat treatment to the arms, unmangled them, tightened the screws and returned the newly repaired set to me. It was a risk of breakage, but what did I have to lose?
What did I pay for this length, helpful and frank appointment with the optician followed by the frame fixing procedure? Not A Thing! It was free.
Meanwhile (in May 2022), the door was locked, masks and appointments were required, and people turning up without suitable protective gear were either politely kept outside or provided a mask. As I said, I felt safe! I also left with a spring in my step and loads of money saved.