‘Free sunglasses’

A certain high street optician (OK, it was Specsavers) has recently been advertising free sunglasses for kids. Great. I have a kid (in fact, two) who wears glasses. Can he have his free sunglasses, please?!

Er – no. It would seem he can’t.

We’re hoping to go abroad in the summer. I suspect my boy will need sunglasses. (My girl got a pair last year, thank goodness, although you can read about our initial attempts to get her a pair here – it’s one of my first ever blogposts!) He is entitled to free glasses as a child, but what about these mythical free sunglasses? No blimmin’ chance apparently.

Now we’re not Specsavers customers, I admit. Although kids’ glasses are funded by the NHS so actually it shouldn’t REALLY matter where they come from. Should it?! Or am I missing something here? I don’t have a business brain.

So we started in our usual place. Boots. They’ve been pretty good to us over the years. Well, apart from that time we tried to get my daughter some sunglasses…

‘My son needs some prescription sunglasses, I’m wondering how much it would cost?’

‘When is his test due?’


Well in that case, all they can do is sell me some ‘free’ glasses for £79 and put some £15 tinted lenses in them. Yes, you read that right. They want to charge me £94 for a pair of prescription sunglasses for a 9 year old. A 9 year old who would no doubt much prefer one of the fun kids’ styles all his friends wear, but can’t have them BECAUSE HE CAN’T SEE VERY WELL. And that isn’t his fault. Or mine. And he doesn’t earn any money. So why should he I have to pay £94 for a pair of sunglasses?

Now I recall when my kids started wearing glasses back in the dim and distant days of 2009 being told they could have up to four free pairs a year on the NHS. What happened to that? I realise that sunglasses are not as essential as real glasses, but it is actually damn uncomfortable wearing real glasses in bright sunshine, so maybe they are a bit essential. So as they are only a bit essential I would be willing to pay up to about £40 for a pair. But not £94.

So I thought I’d try Specsavers. You know, on the off chance. Since they’re advertising free sunglasses and all…

They gave me the free sunglasses blurb. But then I had to admit that a) his prescription isn’t from Specsavers and b) his test isn’t due until October and it wasn’t happening.

He could try on some styles. But it was going to cost £64. And frankly he didn’t need to try on those styles because they were TODDLER SIZE. He’s a big 9 year old. He actually wears the same size glasses as me. But he’s still a kid! He’s not even into double figures yet, for flip’s sake! He could go up to adult sizes of course. But that would cost more…

So I’ll just leave my son to burn his eyeballs. That’s all fine, isn’t it?!

These are his prescription sunglasses from 2010, when he was 6. I paid £15 for them. They are so not going to fit now

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Blimey I have never even thought about this, as I suspect BabBee will be needing glasses due to his father’s chappy vision! What a rip off, hope you find a better solution, Bee x

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  2. Blimey!

    I am hoping Harry inherits my excellent vision (although not the rest of me!) as his Dad can’t read a thing without glasses which when I tried on, gave me an instant headache.

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  3. I think it’s totally disgusting that you are being treated this way. How about shaming them and contacting Watchdog or your local papers, other people must have come up against this too x

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  4. That’s ridiculous.

    I remember getting glasses at 14 and the awful headaches I’d get in the bright sunlight, I was always squinting, so annoying.

    Almost £100 for sunglasses seems ridiculous especially when they should be on prescription.

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  5. Completely insane. Here, have some prescription sunglasses just in time for time for winter

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  6. Thanks very much, everyone. The papers are a good idea, Dawn! Exactly, Kath! I think I will get some in October anyway so at least he will be sorted for next summer. We ended up getting daughter’s in something like February and I paid £35 for them, which I was happy with.
    I don’t know where my kids got their eyesight from, MG and Bee. I’ve only worn glasses since I was 36 and my husband doesn’t wear them. Their eyesight is way worse than mine.

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  7. I wonder if it would be worth trying another branch of SpecSavers as this sounds odd to me. Or get onto their HQ

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  8. I refuse to shop there any more – they screwed up my prescription so badly, I couldn’t see straight for weeks!I went elsewhere to have a re test – and was given a new pair that worked! I reported them to the NHS – because I have a prescription for my glasses too! Hope you manage to get him something!

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  9. WHAT?!!

    That is ridiculous. It think children’s sunglasses should be avaiable for free.

    Same as sun tan lotion. Why should these two essential items, potentially life saving, be so pricy that some can’t afford them?

    And not just people going abroad (who if they can afford a holiday can afford sun cream) we should use it daily here too.

    totally with you on this rant

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  10. Noooo – that’s rubbish! What use will they be in the winter? Stupid weird non useful clauses!

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  11. Thanks very much, everyone! Glad everyone agrees with my rant! I’m still considering my options, but thanks for all your suggestions. I’m wondering whether a totally new optician with no idea when his test is due might be the way forward…

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  12. How can they advertise free sunglasses and then not follow through?! Totally understand your pain having worn glasses when I was younger (I have lasered eyes now). I also hope my kids take after their dad’s amazing vision and not the useless sight from my side of the family.

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  13. £94, that’s totally ridiculous. I wouldn’t spend that on me let alone a 9 year old who’s still growing! #PoCoLo

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  14. there is always a get out, if a child needs them then they need them! you havent just gone in and said he fancies some glasses, he wears them as his eyes need them … makes my blood boil!

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  15. Thanks very much, everyone. So glad everyone is with me on this one and doesnt think I’m just moaning!

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  16. Hi, stumbled over from #Pocolo
    Now, I am a master blagger in most situations so let me get my head round this. As a child you are ‘entitled to’ up to 4 pairs on the NHS a year right? So, if your child accidently ‘lost’ or ‘sat on’ their regular glasses they would be replaced on the NHS? Perhaps then, you need to try another branch after his current pair get lost. Having taken my daughter for eye test 3 times in 4 year as I just wasn’t happy with being told she needed glasses in a test that lasted less that 4 minutes first time round. All 3 prescriptions came out different and we only went as she was complaining of ‘dry eyes’. Honestly, I was convinced it was just down to watching an episode of Charlie and Lola where Lola wants glasses! 3 years later she still doesn’t need them and I’ve been told their eyes change so much as children anyway. I’d pay the £12 for a new eye test (if they insist on this) and then demand the FREE glasses as he doesn’t have any. You can ask for the uv lenses as an addition.

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  17. I never thought about this for Aly, her eyes are ok she wears glasses but not strong ones so at the moment we will be sticking with the ‘fun’ childrens ones

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  18. This is ridiculous. Prescription sunglasses are still counted as glasses aren’t they?! I would understand it if they didn’t need proper prescription glasses – you can buy kids sunglasses pretty much anywhere and they don’t break the bank. Why should you be penalised if you need proper glasses. With all the hoohaa about UV protection these days, you’d think that this was thought out a bit better!! Thanks for linking this discussion to PoCoLo lovely xx

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  19. Perhaps I can help a little with the NHS entitlements issue, I’m a Dispensing Optician, and yes I work for Specsavers.
    Children under 16 are entitled to an NHS Optical voucher towards the cost of spectacles after any test where they have an optical need. This can be because of a change in prescription, or due to wear and tear.
    The voucher value depends on the prescription, and often isn’t as much as the retail value of the spectacles, so your £64 frames and lenses (in specsavers) are often paid with a £37.50 voucher. There is only 1 voucher, can be issued only after a test, and doesn’t allow multiple pairs (something which is very frustrating with younger children).
    NHS repairs and replacement vouchers can be issued on an unlimited basis providing a statement of loss/damage is completed, and the only comeback from the local NHS PCT is if they get multiple claims over time, and they then do a check on the next audit of the Opticians, and sometimes enquire to the parent’s of the child as to the constant source of the issue, ie child constantly loses specs, or breaks them. If multiple claims over time from several opticians occur though then they will flag the case for investigation and action.
    NHS repairs or replacements can only cover a first pair (the pair partly or wholly paid by the initial voucher) not a promotional pair or privately purchased 2nd pair.
    Still with me?
    Therefore if you go to Boots or Specsavers and want to purchase a pair of sunspecs not at the time of the sight test, you will get a private purchase price, not an NHS voucher involved price. Even therefore at Specsavers, if you enquire about sunspecs, they will cost £64, whereas if you have a fresh NHS optical voucher, the first pair would be paid for by the voucher, and the sunspecs would be provided for by the promotion.
    Complicated isn’t it?

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  20. Thanks very much for your solutions, everyone, I really appreciate your support 🙂 Since writing this I have found an online optician (thanks to another blogger) who can do prescription sunglasses for £25. Fingers crossed they are OK.
    Appreciate you taking the time to comment, Andy. I understand what you are saying, but do think it is misleading to advertise things for ‘free’ when the only people eligible are the kids whose tests are due in April/ May. It’s not my choice for my son’s test to be due in the autumn, that’s just the way it’s fallen, so every time he needs sunglasses we will be hit with this.

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