Dana Cohen has been serving young people's eyewear needs for 34 years.
In addition to his Medford shop, Cohen opened a second location eight years ago within the ophthalmology department at Boston Children's Hospital in Waltham, MA. In either place, you're likely to see Cohen and his staff crawling on the floor to help kids find the right glasses, all displayed at their eye level. The key, he says, is making it a fun experience and letting kids take the lead, usually with a prompt about their favorite color.
As kids find frames they like, Cohen checks first to be sure each pair will fit well. If not, he says something like, “Oooops, that may hurt your nose,” and it goes back on the boards. Fit-worthy frames go into a “maybe” pile. Once a child has four or five options, Cohen works with the parents and child to choose the winner — and it's bound to be a strong, flexible frame that'll last a child at least two years. Favorite lines include Miraflex and TurboFlex by Aspex Eyewear.
Medford Optical drives new business via a Honda Element colorfully shrink-wrapped and sporting the number Cohen snagged about 20 years ago: 1-800-OPTICIAN. Cohen also had the foresight to snag the kidsoptical.com website domain.
Cohen says he used to offer inexpensive frames to soothe parents' cost concerns, “but kids were breaking them or they were falling apart within months.” With better-quality eyewear that lasts longer, everyone is happier.
Parents are increasingly willing to pay extra for sun protection, too. Cohen recommends Transitions and says about 40 percent of the glasses he sells now have photochromic lenses, up from 10 percent a few years ago. Many parents like the idea that their child won't need to keep track of another pair of glasses.
Since many of his young customers have diverse medical needs, Cohen strives to make good eyewear affordable for families, even if it means a sizable discount. “I have a passion for fitting children,” he says. “Price is not the main concern.” Cohen's humanitarian impulse doesn't stop in his shops. A trombone player, he'll once again be on board for the EyeRock benefit for New Eyes for the Needy at the Hard Rock Cafe on March 21 during Vision Expo East. See
James Magay contributed to this story.