In the UK a customer can go to an opticians (shop) on the high street and purchase a fixed price eye examination, from which the optician will issue a written prescription. This can then be used at any opticians to have spectacles made.
A common complaint is that the prices UK opticians charge for spectacles are too high (see e.g. ). Such claims about UK prices are common in many areas of retail and services in the UK, see Rip-Off Britain.
In 2007 Glasses Direct had over 30 members of staff and claimed to receive an order every ten minutes, with over 100,000 customers served.
In July 2007 Glasses Direct received $6M of new venture capital from Index Ventures and Highland Capital Partners. The company stated that much of the money would be spent on marketing, with the aim of transforming the spectacles market to one where people were more likely to own multiple pairs, matching particular occasions or looks, due to lower prices, comparing this to the model used successfully by the wristhwatch company Swatch. Saul Klein a partner at Index Ventures also suggested that expansion of Glasses Direct to markets other than the UK was likely.
In 2006, Glasses Direct's founder James Murray Wells sought election to the GOC, claiming that a representative from the internet was needed.