When Today's Parent editor Kim Shiffman's son was three years old, he was prescribed glasses for near-sightedness. This unleashed a cycle of dishing out about $100 for a pair of kids’ frames and lenses each time her son’s prescription changed, his head grew or his frames broke. It wasn’t until he was nine years old that Shiffman, who is based in Toronto, discovered that her local Loblaws grocery store offered free glasses for kids 10 and under.
“I figured there must be a catch," she says. "I was definitely skeptical when we walked in." But she reports that there was no catch at all. "For two blissful years, we got my son’s glasses completely free.”
Unfortunately, the optical departments at Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstore no longer have the Kids See Free program. But good news: there are other programs in Canada that offer free glasses to children. And indeed, there are no strings attached.
Here are the options available to Canadian families.
The contacts, eyeglasses and sunglasses retailer Clearly offers free glasses to children ages 10 and under if they visit a Clearly retail store location. To claim the offer, bring your kid into your local Clearly store (there are locations in Ontario, Alberta and BC), along with their eye prescription and their health card. The prescription must be no more than a year old.
If your kindergartener is in need of a pair of funky frames, the Eye See... Eye Learn program might have you covered. The initiative, which is supported by Essilor Vision Foundation Canada and Modern Optical Canada, partners with optometrists in select provinces across the country to provide children born in 2016 or 2017 with one free pair of glasses. If you're looking to take advantage of the free spectacles, just make sure your child's eye exam is performed with a participating optometrist. To find a participating optometrist closest to you, check out the program's website and look for an asterisk beside their name.
This fantastic initiative, which is also partnered with Essilor Vision Foundation Canada, brings the optometrist right to your child! The program visits select schools in Manitoba to promote accessibility in vision care, and provides eye exams and glasses to your child on the spot. The Mobile Vision Care Clinic provides anti-resistant and scratch-resistant lenses along with a selection of frames. Take a look at the program's website to learn more about where the clinic operates in the province.