Finding the right shop for glasses for your young child can make a huge difference in your child’s experiences with glasses. An good optical shop is far more than just a place to choose frames and lenses. A good shop will have experienced opticians who can help you find frames that fit your child well, and can adjust them appropriately. They can also give great advice on types of frames and lenses for your child, as well as suggestions on helping to make the transition to glasses easier. They’ll also be your place to go when glasses get bent, or scratched, or when you need to update their prescription. So it is absolutely worth it to find a great shop.
Start by getting recommendations for optical shops. You can ask your child’s eye doctor for recommendations for optical shops, though if they also sell glasses in the office, they may not have a recommendation beyond their own shop. Know that you do not need to purchase glasses at the same place where your child’s eye exam was. You should be given their prescription (it is part of their medical records, so make sure to get a copy).
If you know anyone with a young child in glasses, ask them about their experiences with optical shops. You can even stop someone on the street if you see they have a young child in glasses and ask for their recommendation. Chances are that they will have some opinions on the matter. You can also ask other friends who wear glasses if they have an optical shop they’d recommend, though a shop that is great for adults may not have the experience or selection you need for kids’ eyewear.
Below are some questions you may want to ask of any optical shops to help you choose one. You can go in person to a shop and ask about the following, but it may be easier to call before visiting, especially if you’re bringing a small child with you. Now, depending on where you live, you may not have a lot of shops to choose from, but it is still worth asking these questions, no matter where you go, to help you plan for choosing and purchasing glasses.
Selection of frames
Because young children are a small percentage of the customer base for optical shops, many shops don’t have a huge selection of the smallest frames. But don’t rely on what the shop has out on display. Some shops keep their children’s and baby’s frames in back.
Questions to ask:
- Tell them the age of your child and ask whether they carry frames in that size, and how many frames you’ll have to choose from.
- Ask about whether they would be willing to order some sample frames for you to try on in the store.
- Ask if they are willing to fill a prescription in frames that you bring in. If you cannot find frames in a shop, you can order frames online and have them filled by a shop, that will then help you with adjustments and fitting.
Experience with Children
Fitting glasses to small children is different than fitting them to adults. It requires a few different techniques and a certain understanding of how to work with young kids.
Questions to ask:
- Do you have an optician on staff that is trained or experienced with children?
- When do they work?
Few things in life are certain, but prescription changes and broken or scratched glasses on young kids are nearly a sure thing. Different shops have very different warranties for their frames and lenses. It is important to know what is covered and what is not going in. Young kids will outgrow their frames in a year or maybe two, so it is not worth it to get a warranty past that point.
Questions to ask:
- Do you have a warranty for the frames? Does it cost extra?
- Do you have a warranty for scratches on the lenses? Does that cost extra?
- Do you have a warranty for prescription changes in the first year?
Pricing and Insurance
Depending on where you live and what your insurance is, the cost of glasses can run from nothing, to a whole freakin’ lot of money. Most US health insurances will not cover glasses (though they usually cover the exam), if you have a separate vision insurance, find out if the shop takes that insurance, and what, if any, limits there are to using the insurance. You’ll also want to know what the price points or price ranges are before going in – you can ask about. Many shops also offer discounts if you order a second back-up pair or prescription sunglasses at the same time. A second pair of glasses can be a life saver if one pair needs to go in for repair, so depending on your budget and needs, this can be a great deal.
Questions to ask
- Do you accept vision insurance (if applicable)? Are all frames covered under the insurance, or only some of them?
- Do you have any older frames that are discounted?
- Do you offer a discount if I order a second pair of glasses at the same time?