Broken glasses proving hard to fix for Montreal man during COVID-19 shutdown

Jason Kornyk wears glasses because he needs them, not because he’s trying to make a fashion statement. Without them, the east-end Montrealer said he cannot function.

“I can’ t drive, I can’t work, I can’t read, I can’t do anything without them,” he said.

But after purchasing  a pair of glasses around six weeks ago, Kornyk found himself in a tough spot.

“About a week later, they broke,” he said. “It was a malfunction, just a broken piece of metal on the glasses. It has nothing to do with the eyeglasses place’s fault.”

Kornyk contacted the store where he bought the glasses, but was told the glasses couldn’t be fixed because the stores were closed due to COVID-19.

“Our government won’t allow us to open,” Kornyk said he was told.

One employee of the store did attempt to fix the glasses but was ultimately unsuccessful.

“He provided me with two sets of reading glasses to get me through,” Kornyk said, “and told me that until further notice they just couldn’t because their lab wouldn’t open.”

The situation has left Kornyk feeling perplexed and frustrated.

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“They’ll allow tire shops, they’ll allow construction, how are glasses not in Quebec considered an essential need for someone like me?” he said.

Optician Alfred Laham agrees that vision is important.

“In my opinion, it should be considered an essential service,” he said. “Basically as a non-essential business, according to the government, we are forced to be closed.”

Opticians are technicians trained to make and fit vision aids based on the prescription of an optometrist or physician. They’re licensed to provide glasses, or dispense contact lenses or other optical aids.

Laham, who works at Oasis Optique — a family-owned store in Kirkland in the West Island — said that while the store is closed for regular services, they are providing emergency services on a case-by-case basis.

Laham said a broken pair of glasses can constitute an emergency.

“If you have multiple pairs of glasses and one of them is broken, it’s not an emergency,” he said.

“If you break your only glasses, and you cannot see, we’re here for that.”

Guidelines, posted online by the Quebec order of opticians, also lists repairing broken glasses as an emergency service which is allowed.

Other emergencies include ocular emergencies requiring an appointment with an optometrist.

Laham could only speculate as to why some other stores aren’t doing repairs.

“Some chain stores are closed. Either they are in a mall, or they’re in a situation where it’s  just easier for them to close their doors,” he said.

Global News reached out to the store where Kornyk purchased his glasses, but didn’t hear back.

As for Laham, he says they’re trying to make things easier for clients until they can open up again.

“We’ll give them a specific time slot to either come meet us at the store or we go pick up their glasses, we repair it and we send it back to them,” he said.

“We are a small family business and we try to help out the community here, so we do our best.”

— With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter

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