Celebrating 20 years of The Big Optician, Newcastle upon Tyne

On June 21 2024, The Big Optician in Newcastle upon Tyne celebrated a significant milestone – our 20th anniversary! We marked this wonderful milestone by hosting a two-day celebration at our practice. 

For those who weren’t able to join us, here’s a recap of what we got up to, as well as a little trip down memory lane, recounting our incredible growth and achievements from our humble beginning over the last two decades of providing excellence in eye care to the residents of Newcastle and beyond.

20th anniversary

In true North East style, our celebration was a weekend affair. On Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22, 2024, we welcomed our clients to join us for a glass of fizz (or a freshly brewed coffee), a £20 discount off a new pair of glasses or sunglasses, and a complementary bottomless bottle of spectacle lens cleaner for each customer. 

special discount offer

We hoped this was the perfect way to show our appreciation for your support over the years. Without your loyalty and custom, reaching this milestone wouldn’t have been possible, and it would have been a lot less fun along the way! Most of our staff have been with us (almost) 20 years, and seeing our loyal customers on a regular basis certainly makes our work at The Big Optician extremely enjoyable – and we hope that the feeling is mutual!

Reflecting on two decades of excellence.

Over the past 20 years, we are all proud to have developed a reputation for first-class eyecare, providing comprehensive eye examinations, advanced retinal and macular scanning as well as the all-important reputation we have for a flair and passion for eyewear styling.

Since opening our doors in 2004, and starting the practice from scratch our founders Karen and Keith Little dedicated themselves to offering high-quality eye care to the community of Ouseburn and the wider areas of Newcastle and the North East. Many people will have known Keith from his days as Director of The Eye Clinic, a post he held for several years prior to opening The Big Optician with his vision for offering high-quality eyecare and continuity of care to people who value their vision and want peace of mind that their eyecare is in safe hands. With Keith’s commitment to excellent clinical care and Karen’s passion for stylish eyewear, the practice invested significantly in state-of-the-art equipment and a superb selection of eyewear. 

The practice was started from scratch and the choice of location of The Big Optician was always going to be of major importance. Keith and Karen wanted a practice that was accessible for everyone and has convenient at-the-door parking. The Big Optician has 12 private parking spaces, everything is on one level and, for non-drivers, it is close to bus and Metro links. Being situated in the creative community hub of Ouseburn Valley, it is also a wonderful location. Ouseburn was recently nominated by The Times national newspaper as one of the best places to live and work in the UK!

In 2006, Gillian Urwin, who had previously worked under Keith’s tutelage at The Eye Clinic, joined The Big Optician, much to the delight of our patients, and remains here as our full-time Optometrist giving our clients the continuity of care that most people value. This is further amplified by the fact that most of our staff have been here, like Gillian, for over 18 years! Our team is truly the heartbeat of our practice, helping us to continue to enhance the friendly, knowledgeable and supportive environment for our patients, old and new. 

The Big Optician continues to be family-owned and operated – a truly independent optician, which is very much a rarity these days. Our goal has always been for you to park at the door, come into our practice, be greeted warmly, and see the same smiling faces, enabling you to relax in the knowledge that you will experience first-class eye care and be looked after by people you can trust to help you select your eyewear in a non-hurried, environment. 

Community Involvement and Charity Work

Charity Work

Since 2004 we have always been a key part of the Ouseburn Valley scene. Our practice is located at the gateway to the Ouseburn Valley this wonderful, unique part of the Northeast. As Karen says, ‘Twenty years ago, Keith and I recognised the charm and charisma of the Ouseburn Valley, which is why we chose to locate our Opticians practice here. Since that time, Ouseburn has become one of the most exciting places to live and work in Newcastle and the North East, and we are delighted to remain as Ouseburn’s only community Optician’. We are currently exploring options for some exciting street art, which will make The Big Optician’s building even more of a keystone to Ouseburn Valley. Watch this space…

Part of The Big Optician’s ethos for community involvement is our commitment to supporting various charities, including The Brain Tumour Charity, The Eve Appeal and Motor Neurone Disease Association-  charities that are particularly close to our hearts. 

Loyal patients

Our patients are so important to us that we couldn’t not highlight them in this blog! Check out the fabulous Brenda Blethyn, who took a break from filming ‘Vera’ to pick up her fabulous new specs from The Big Optician. And it wouldn’t be a visit without her adorable dog, Jack, who’s always a star in our practice!

Loyal patients

Evolution of our clinical services and eyewear. The NO-PUFF eye test!

As your local, opticians in Newcastle, putting you first has always been the driving force behind all that we do. Investing in enhanced eye testing equipment, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), allows our Optometrists to undertake hospital-grade scans of your eyes, which can identify abnormalities at the very earliest stages before any symptoms have developed. Earlier detection of problems increases the chances of successful treatment. Interestingly, The Big Optician introduced OCT into our practice over 10 years ago, so our patients have been receiving benefits from OCT for that length of time. The big retail multiple chain opticians are only just gradually implementing OCT into their stores now. This is just an example of The Big Optician’s forward-thinking commitment to invest in eyecare tech to provide the very best for our patients. 

At the Big Optician we listen to our patients too. Many people hated the ‘puff’ part of the eye test, and although they knew it was vital for the optometrist to measure their eye pressure, they told us that this was what they disliked about an eye test. Therefore, several years ago, we introduced new technology that removed the ‘puff’ part of the eye test. Our optometrists still measure your eye pressures as part of your routine eye examinations, but by using the ‘no puff’ technology, eye tests at The Big Optician are discomfort-free – much to the delight of our patients!

As an independent optician, we have always had the freedom to curate an extensive eyewear collection.  The Big Optician has developed a reputation for eyewear for women and men that is glamorous and stylish. From designer brands such as Tom Ford, Lindberg, Persol, Oliver Peoples, and Face a Face Paris, we believe we have an eyewear collection to match any opticians up and down the country. 

independent optician

We have crafted a legacy with our eyewear styling service, which helps customers through the eyewear selection process. Our friendly, knowledgeable team will handpick frames that will suit you, taking into account your preferences, lifestyle and facial features. This highly personalised service is part of our commitment to you that you will leave The Big Optician with eyewear frames that you will love wearing.

Over the past 20 years, we have become one of the biggest retailers in Newcastle and the North East of the award-winning Danish eyewear brand Lindberg. Lindberg eyewear allows you to customise your frames and are extremely lightweight and robust making Lindberg a firm favourite with many of our customers.

We are Seiko Vision spectacle lens specialists, allowing us to offer high-quality spectacles and sunglasses from the world-renowned lens supplier Seiko. We are one of the few opticians to use the Seiko Xperience Centre, an AI-powered tool that enables us to provide extremely precise measurements to ensure your spectacle lenses can be individually tailored to your specific needs. We also supply Essilor, Hoya, and Zeiss lenses, allowing us to offer our clients spectacle lenses from a range of lens manufacturers.

We have a very strong contact lens offering, and as an independent optician, we can supply contact lenses from all contact lens manufacturers, including Alcon, Johnson & Johnson, Coopervision, Bausch & Lomb and Ultravision, to name a few. Our staff have taught hundreds of new contact lens wearers how to apply and remove contact lenses from their eyes. We have an extremely high success rate and hundreds of happy contact lens patients. Our Direct Debit contact lens scheme is very popular as it has many benefits, including home delivery, unlimited access to the practice, and significant discounts on glasses and sunglasses. 

NEW for 2024: Hearing Clinics/ Audiology.

At The Big Optician, we never rest on our laurels and are always looking to improve the services we offer to our clients. Friday, July 12, 2024, will see our inaugural Hearing Clinic. Our Audiologist, Aroosah, will hold a hearing clinic each Friday, providing complementary, comprehensive hearing screening and other Audiology services. 


All of the team here at The Big Optician in Newcastle Upon Tyne want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the local community of Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne and beyond. It has been and continues to be an honour to deliver exceptional eyecare to our customers, old and new, and we will continue to strive to exceed your expectations over the next 20 years! We look forward to seeing you soon.