The Specky Wren, the vibrant opticians located at the entrance to The Open Market on London Road, has gone from strength to strength since the practice opened in 2013. Their shopfront has always stood out with its kaleidoscopic artwork adorning the windows, with the range of frames inside matching that vivid aesthetic and sense of fun. Having built up a loyal base of customers, they are taking the business into a new exciting era with some enhancements to the way they run the practice and the services they now offer.
Recent upgrades to their website mean it’s now possible to browse a selection of their vast catalogue of frames online. Photographed in 360 degrees at high definition, customers can zoom in and rotate the frames to get an accurate sense of what the styles would look like in real life. They can then choose a selection of frames to form a basis for an in-person style consultation, which can be booked through the website, as well as eye examinations and contact lens appointments.
Spectacle style consultations have always been an important part of the Specky Wren experience. Demonstrating the different styles and fits, and offering advice as to what might suit each customer has always been a cornerstone of their approach. Stocking frames from the classical to the latest styles, they consider face shape, frame fit and compatibility with prescription to find the perfect pair of glasses for each individual and situation – whether it be for the office, driving or just relaxing with a book at home.
Their frames are curated from collections by independent frame designers from Europe and beyond – including uber cool, bold and brave heavy acetate frames from German designers KreuzbergKinder; the slick minimalist styles of Danish designers Lindberg; and Caroline Abram sunglasses that wouldn’t look out of place at Cannes.
Making a selection from such a wide variety of frames can be daunting, so these style consultations help take away that stress. It’s an interaction that has helped build up a rapport with their customers that is key to the friendly, welcoming atmosphere of the shop.
One recent change to their opticians practice is the enhanced standard of eye care they are now able to provide. The optometrist team are undertaking postgraduate qualifications to allow them to manage a wider range of eye diseases using medication. This decision to upskill was made during the pandemic, when the public’s access to diagnostic appointments was extremely limited, and the team understood the importance of being a resource for people with conditions that would become serious if left untreated.
They have also invested in the very latest technology, including an Optomap which allows for much more detailed wide-angle imaging of the retina. This is combined with a specialised machine called an OCT – Optical Coherence Tomography. The OCT gives a high-definition cross-section of the different layers of the retina. It’s non-invasive and simply requires the patient to look into the machine and allow it to record the images.
When these 3-D scans have been taken, the optometrist can then talk through the images with the patient. With the aid of the Optomap, they can demonstrate very clearly what is going on inside the eyes. Showing the patient a clear picture of their eye makes it much easier to explain the details regarding their eye health, rather than just explaining in abstract, scientific terms. It can also be fascinating to take a voyage into what can be quite a mysterious part of the body, and see the different parts in such detail.
The optometrist can then look at these scans and analyse any anomalies with the aid of computer analysis, to create an incredibly accurate assessment of the health of the eye. This technology has completely revolutionised the way they can assess a patient’s eye health. Before, the appraisal would have been more speculative and subjective, but using the kind of analysis this new equipment generates, the diagnosis can be so much more accurate. Furthermore, these are the same machines as the eye hospital uses, so they are able to send data directly over to them in a format that is useful to them.
This also means they can detect conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease at a much earlier stage. Glaucoma, for instance, was diagnosed in the past by a measurable deterioration in the patient’s vision, but with the new technology they can measure a reduction in the thickness of the nerve tissue around the optic nerve, and detect the disease before it develops further. Being able to make an accurate referral to the eye hospital like this makes the whole diagnostic and treatment process far more efficient.
Upscaling the equipment and skills of their employees and forming those connections with the eye hospital has given the business new life and direction, combining the strong fashion-led element with the best possible eye health assessment.
Through what has been a difficult couple of years navigating the industry regulations imposed to combat the pandemic, The Specky Wren have emerged stronger. The relationship with their patients is more important now than ever, and they have acknowledged this by introducing an Eye Care Plan available for a small monthly fee. This provides patients with a discount on their first eye examination, then free examinations once they have been on the plan for six months, as well as 10% off glasses. It’s a way of helping their base of loyal customers to save money in the long run and a tribute to the community who have continued to support them.