Prescription sunglasses (not taking it lying down)

Every couple of years I like (as in really don’t like at all) to have a fight to secure my kids some prescription sunglasses. These are not fashion items. They’re not to look cool or funky. They are essential items SO THAT MY CHILDREN CAN SEE IN THE SUN. Yes, I am shouting. Because it winds me up.

Glasses for children are free on the NHS. Pretty much. Unless your child has an adult-sized head, like my 11 year old son (who has had an adult-sized head since he was 9). Adults can get free prescription sunglasses. Kids? Not so much. Unless their eye test falls within the magical month when the opticians see fit to offer them for free. Which my kids’ eye tests don’t. And woe betide anyone who tries to book a test when it isn’t due. Or tries to sneakily go to another optician. I’ve tried. Sigh. It just doesn’t work.

My daughter’s prescription sunglasses are London 2012 ones. She got them in 2011. When she was 5. She’s now 9. You won’t be surprised to discover that she has grown in that time. This year is the one. The one where she has to get new sunglasses (shudder).

Sunglasses, Prescription sunglasses, Daughter

Time to say goodbye to these babies…

And there they were. In Boots. Just sat on the shelf. Actual children’s sunglasses. That you can choose and have made to your own child’s prescription. And for only £40. Result! (You see, I don’t have an issue with paying £40 for sunglasses, but often they don’t have them in stock and then they offer you normal lenses with tinted glass, which don’t come on the NHS and they do the maths and announce it’s going to cost £135. For an essential item for your child’s health.)

There were six different pairs to choose from. Clearly some would be too small and some would be too big, but, by the law of averages, two would be likely to fit. And, as they’re only sunglasses, we weren’t even bothered how they looked. We just need the sunglasses.

AND NONE OF THEM FIT. None of them. Two of them were two small, four of them were too big.


My daughter is 9. If we take, for the sake of argument, that children generally wear children’s glasses between the ages of 5 and 13, she is right in the middle of that. She is average. She should fit the damn glasses.

‘Oh, don’t worry,’ said the optician. ‘She can just choose some regular frames and we can put tinted glass in them for £40.’


So she selected the one pair of glasses guaranteed to fit and guaranteed to suit her. The pair she has now.

Her pupils were measured, the lens colour was selected, the information was input into the computer.

‘That’ll be £75.’

And I did something I’d never done before. I said no. Not no to having the glasses altogether (as I’ve done in the past), no to that price.

I’m not a person who negotiates or argues or haggles. I’m a person who, in a very British way, says ‘That’ll be fine,’ while inwardly stressing that I’ve just agreed to pay way over the odds for something. But this time I wasn’t having it.

There were glasses priced at £40. They didn’t fit my daughter (no fault of my own or her own) and I wasn’t going to pay over £40 for an alternative.

We went through the motions of trying to make the too-big glasses fit. But they really didn’t fit.

‘I could do it for £65?’


I stuck to my guns. Another optician came over. He scrolled through the computer again and again. He knew I wasn’t budging.

And then, all of a sudden, he found the magic code on the computer. The one he could use to make my daughter’s new sunglasses magically cost £40.

I’d done it! I’d been strong. I’d negotiated. For the first time ever, I hadn’t backed down. I felt so proud of myself.

This is not my first battle over sunglasses and it probably won’t be my last! – I had a fight over my daughter’s sunglasses in 2011 and a fight over my son’s in 2013. The whole situation is just as annoying and makes just as little sense now as it was then.


Mum of Three World

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Blimey I didn’t know they could do that with the price so easily. I also didnt know they charged adult prices according to head size!! Hmm bit of a rip off for kids!

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    • Thanks very much, it’s a real rip-off! With normal glasses, they knock the NHS voucher price of the price of adults’ glasses, but sunglasses are a different matter! The way they work out the price is a real mystery.

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  2. I had no idea of the daftness of it all. Really hope we never have to deal with this, although I’m always worried H will need specs because I have poor eyesight. I wonder if its a deliberate ploy to charge an adult price or whether it was an oversight. Well done you.

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    • I have no idea, but I do know it was very annoying! So glad I stood my ground, though.

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  3. This is awful and good for you! I have a similar dilemma. My optician sell baby wrap around sunglasses. They say every child should wear sunglasses, prescription or no. The sun is harmful to our eyes. We put sunscreen on their skin but leave their eyes uncovered and eye cancer and damaged vision is a risk. I’m about to get my son his first pair of prescription sunnies, but while my optician is supportive, it’s something I know I’ll have to pay over the odds for 🙁

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    • Thanks, good luck with getting your son his first pair of prescription sunglasses! I hope it doesn’t cost you too much.
      It’s only recently I’ve realised that we should all be wearing sunglasses. My eldest, the one who doesn’t wear glasses, is forever getting sunburnt, despite wearing a high factor suncream – he just seems to miss bits! I’ve noticed he often gets burnt under his eyes, so I insist he wears sunglasses now.

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  4. Go you!! I am hopeless in those sort of situations! Oddly I actually got Betsy her first pair of prescription sunglasses yesterday. She didn’t need glasses until she was 13-ish and even then her prescription wasn’t bad enough that she struggled with normal sunglasses – she just need her specs for the board etc. but in the last couple of years she has had quite a big increase in her prescription so can no longer wear normal sunglasses and couple with the fact she is now driving she def needed some prescription ones! Luckily she is an adult so had a range to choose from – cost me £60 for two pairs (she needed new normal ones too) with the NHS voucher which isn’t bad at all. What bugs me is that this is her last free eye check and last NHS voucher as you get no help when you are a uni student, which seems a bit harsh to me!

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    • £60 for both pairs is very good! It sounds like she will be keeping those glasses for a long time if no more free tests and reduced price glasses for her 🙁

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  5. I love the way that shops feel like they can just add some numbers to a price and you’ll pay them. Well done for negotiating and getting them for a reasonable price.


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    • Thanks very much! It was completely alien to me to do that, but there was no way I was paying those prices!

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  6. Go, you! I hadn’t realised that kids prescription sunglasses weren’t free, very frustrating. And as you say, why pay more through absolutely no fault of your own, or daughter’s? Glad you stood your ground on this one.

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    • Thanks very much! They’re only free if your child’s test is due when they have a free sunglasses offer on. They won’t do tests when they’re not due and won’t let you benefit from the offer without a test 🙁

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  7. Well done, you! Just goes to show what you can do if you tough it out a bit. I need to remember to do this more often – I’m the world’s worst negotiator. Whereas Isaac could sell snow to Eskimos. I know who I’m going to get to do my next bit of bartering …

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    • Glad it’s not just me who doesn’t stand their ground. My husband is the master at this – I watch him in action in a mixture of awe and embarrassment, but he always gets his way!

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  8. Go Sarah! I’m whooping for you here. I cannot believe what these retailers get away with, makes me feel sick tbh. Really pleased you stood your ground and paid almost half the price xx

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    • Thanks very much! It was definitely worth doing! x

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  9. I can only begin to imagine how annoying this must be for you, years in year. Fantastic result though, well done! Just goes to show what a bit of perseverance will do – there’ll be no stopping you now!

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    • It’s very annoying! It’s just a relief they don’t need them every single year. I’m going to be persistent in future now.

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  10. Good for you, I am rubbish at haggling too but it obviously is worth doing sometimes.

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    • Thanks very much! I’m going to try to be braver in future now.

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  11. I get round this by getting the eye test done at the good optician and then taking the prescription to specsavers. 2 pairs of glasses for free, so one normal and one tinted. My daughter is 9 and wears ones from the teen range, my sons is 13 and wears them from the adult range, again his are free up to the 2 for £85 range. so again one pair of normal glasses and a tinted pair.

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    • That’s really good! I think I need to try harder with Specsavers! They were unhelpful to me once and I never went back. Thanks.

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