thoughts on the Consumer Reports article on buying eyewear

Consumer Reports magazine has a feature in their August, 2013 issue called “Save Big on Eyewear.”  The article isn’t free online,  but if you don’t have a subscription, you can still read their Eyeglass Store Buying Guide.  I’d still recommend seeing if you can find a copy at a library if you’d like a more in-depth introduction to buying glasses.

That said, while the article is great in terms of buying glasses for adults, I think it doesn’t address some of the specific concerns that come with buying glasses for a young child.  So I wrote a lengthy letter to the editor.  I don’t know whether or not it will be printed (it’s far longer than most of the letters they publish), but I thought I’d share it here:

Dear Editor,

Your August 2013 feature on Saving Big on Eyewear had fantastic information for purchasing glasses for adults.  I wanted to add a few more tips for families that may be buying glasses for their children, particularly young children.  My daughter started wearing glasses at a year old, and I had a hard time finding much information on buying glasses for toddlers and preschoolers.  It’s estimated that 1 in 20 preschoolers, and as many as 1 in 4 school-aged children need glasses to see clearly, so I thought the following might be helpful for those families.

Research the stores.  Selection and expertise for young children’s eyewear is not a given at all stores, so call ahead and ask what selection they have for your child’s age, and if they have opticians who are experienced in fitting young children.  The younger your child, the smaller selection a store is likely to have, but there are some great, comfortable, and stylish options out there.  Optical shops that specialize in children’s eye wear will have the best selection, but may be pricier than other shops.  Some shops may be willing to order a variety of frames for your child to try on.

Lens choices.  Polycarbonate and Trivex are the absolute best choices for kids’ lenses because they are so impact-resistant.  Most vision insurances will fully cover polycarbonate lenses for kids.

Warranties.  While an extended warranty against loss and damage may not make sense for adults, it can be a lifesaver (or at least a pocketbook saver) for families with a young child.  Be sure to also ask about warranties for prescription changes because children’s prescriptions can change quite rapidly  Most shops will replace lenses for free if there’s a prescription change in the first few weeks or months.  If your child’s eye doctor wants a follow up appointment after they get their glasses, make sure you schedule it in the window when changes are covered.  Finally, some scratch-resistant coatings come with a one-year warranty against lens scratches.  Make sure you understand what is covered by that.  I personally have used that warranty many times with my daughter.

Second pair.  I highly recommend a second pair of glasses for children.  As you mention in the article, a second pair means not needing to pay for a rush job if there’s loss, damage, or a change in prescription.  Many shops will also offer significant discounts if you order two pair of glasses at the same time.

Ann Zawistoski

Owner and author at Little Four Eyes, an online community for parents of young children in glasses (http://littlefoureyes.com)

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