After providing eye care in North Berwick for the last forty years, Alice Stephenson and Donald Tainsh are handing over their practice to independent optometrist, Clare Downes. We caught up with Clare and found out the job of an optometrist is about much more than just dishing out glasses!

You own an Opticians in Leith, so why North Berwick?
I founded Downes Opticians in Leith 10 years ago – my first ‘baby’! I wanted to build a practice with strong moral and ethical values, a practice which would treat everyone as if they were a member of your family. As an East Lothian resident, I am honoured and excited to be taking over the legacy that is Alice Stephenson Optometrists. 

It is a fairly established practice in North Berwick?
Yes, Alice and her father Hunter Tainsh established the practice in August 1978. Alice’s brother Donald, a dispensing optician, joined Alice 21 years ago when they moved into the current premises in Market Place. After so many years and with a loyal patient following it was not an easy decision for them to retire. But, our entire team are looking forward to continuing excellent eye care in North Berwick and we look forward to welcoming patients, both new and existing.

Is it important to visit an Optometrist?
Most of us are conditioned to visit our dentist every six months but rarely do we grant our eyes the same courtesy. Research from the College of Optometrists recommends everyone should have an eye examination every two years unless otherwise advised. Regular trips to the optician are not just important for vision correction but can also spot symptoms in the eye that could mean a potentially serious health condition.

What question do you get asked regularly?
One of the most common questions we’re asked is, “When is it appropriate for children to start wearing contact lenses?” Contact lens wear is not a matter of age, children as young as five can wear them but every case is different. We’re excited to bring our childrens’ contact lens clinics to East Lothian – just one of the specialised clinics we’re planning which, up until now, were not available in the county.

What are the other clinics?

Our job is more than just dishing out glasses and we will be offering dyslexia and visual stress consultations, including specialised tinted glasses. We also specialise in myopia control, a groundbreaking contact lens treatment to slow the progression of short sightedness.

Yes, but a large part of your job must be dishing out glasses?
We absolutely love glasses and we are passionate about finding the perfect frame for each individual on every budget. Fabulous does not need to be expensive. In fact, we make it our mission to help clients find a frame they’ll love and fits as if it were tailor-made for them. Daily we are complimented on our friendly, professional approach with genuine honesty on a person’s frame and lenses choice regardless of their budget.



for appointments or other eye related queries contact North Berwick 01620 893 007 or Leith 0131 553 5358 |