Two of my children wear glasses, so we spend A LOT of time in the optician’s. So much so that all the staff at our large optician’s know my daughter by name, whether or not they have tested her eyes or fitted her glasses in the past.
All three of us started wearing glasses in 2009. That year as a family we had ELEVEN eye tests between us. When a very young child needs glasses, they test, test and test again – to find out if they need glasses, then to work out just how strong they need them.
I guess it’s not easy testing a very young child’s eyes. My daughter was only just 3 when she first had her eyes tested, not even in her pre-school year. She didn’t know letters and, anyway, was way too shy to speak up and say what they were – something to do with being unable to see, as it turned out. Several tests and several months later, they concluded that, yes, she did need glasses and, actually, they needed to be pretty strong.
But once they’ve got glasses, the opticians’ trips don’t stop, oh no, they get even more frequent. There’s eye tests every three months, there’s scratched glasses, bent glasses, broken glasses and glasses that are too tight or too loose. If we make it through a month without my daughter needing her glasses tightened, it’s a miracle.
And then there’s today’s big issue – the SUNGLASSES. Being relatively new to glasses wearing myself, I never knew how much more uncomfortable the sun is when you’re wearing regular glasses than if you’re not wearing glasses. So the kids need sunglasses. Not the cute ones you can pick up in any kids’ shop, PRESCRIPTION sunglasses.
You can imagine how unthrilled I was two weeks after my son picked up his latest pair of glasses when they started offering free prescription sunglasses with children’s glasses and neither of my kids was eligible for a pair at that time.
My daughter had her eye test on the first day of the summer holidays. Her eyes had got a bit worse, and she’d grown. She needed new glasses and new sunglasses. The glasses were free – the sunglasses £105. Yes, you read that right, ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE POUNDS. For a child’s sunglasses. A child who, through no fault of her own, can’t see very well. This from the same optician that was offering two pairs of adult’s glasses (clear glass or sunglasses) for just £79. I knew I’d have to pay for them, but there was no way I was paying that much, so I walked away to rethink.
The normal glasses took rather a long time to arrive, then I started to panic, counting down to our holiday. It’s only in Cornwall, but when the sun shines off the sea or the beach, my girl is really going to need sunglasses. So I rang the leading high street opticians to enquire about children’s sunglasses, it’s not like I HAVE to go to my usual optician all the time, is it?! They were completely unhelpful. They could offer us half price children’s sunglasses with a pair of regular clear glass children’s specs. BUT WE DON’T WANT THE CLEAR GLASS, WE JUST WANT THE SUNGLASSES! So I went back to plan A and my usual optician, put on a slightly whiney voice, moaned a bit, and suddenly I could have the sunglasses for £35! Why couldn’t I have them for £35 10 or 11 days ago?!
Glasses take approximately a week to arrive, often less. Eight days after ordering the sunglasses and only days to our holiday, I haven’t heard anything. So I phone the optician. No, they’re not in, oh, actually, they are. Two days later (today), I go in to collect them. AND THEY’RE NOT THERE!
Apparently they were faulty and had to go back and now there is no way we will have them in time for our holiday.
So three weeks of faffing, the summer nearly over, £35 spent and no sunglasses for our holiday. Am I pissed off?! Am I ever!
On the plus side, my girl got her glasses tightened while we were waiting.