If your child needs to wear glasses, here’s how to make choosing the perfect pair for your little cherub as painless as possible.
1. Make it child-guided
The child should be heavily involved in the decision-making, says Melbourne optometrist Tim Fricke*: “Because they may struggle against wearing glasses anyway – if they hate them, or they’re not comfortable, getting them to wear glasses will be even more difficult. If they are in on the choice, this will go a long way towards getting them to actually wear the glasses.” However, kids may also need a guiding hand from mum and dad – while having bright pink, funny shaped glasses at the age of three may be fun for them, they may hate pink and refuse to wear them a few months later.
2. Have a shortlist
Encourage your child to pick out several frames they like, and then get the optometrist to determine which ones provide the best fit. If they pinch around the nose or the lenses fog up because the frames rest on the cheek, the child will hate wearing them – however, only an optometrist may pick up these wearing issues at the time.
3. Have the bridge fit checked
A difficulty in selecting frames for young children is that their noses are not fully developed and they don’t have a bridge to prevent plastic frames from sliding down.
This can be where metal frames can be better as they are often made with adjustable nose pads, so they fit everyone’s bridge. However, manufacturers of plastic frames have recognised this difficulty with plastic frames and now are making more bridges to fit small noses.
The US eyecare website All About Vision says that each frame must be evaluated individually to make sure it fits the bridge. “If any gaps exist between the bridge of the frame and the bridge of the nose, the weight of the lenses will cause the glasses to slide, no matter how well the frame seems to fit before the lenses are made.
“It is important that the glasses stay in place, because kids tend to look right over the tops of the lenses instead of pushing slipping glasses back up where they belong. Your optometrist usually is the best judge of whether a frame fits properly.”
4. Lens matters
There are a couple of issues around the glasses lenses. For example, the thickness of the lens can dictate which frames can be used. The optometrist can provide a good idea of how thick the lenses will be and recommend suitable frames that will make thick lenses appear thinner.
There are also decisions to be made around lens material. Many optometrists will recommend polycarbonate, because it is the most impact-resistant and safest lens material around, is lighter in weight than regular plastic lenses, has built-in UV protection and the lenses are scratch-resistant coated by the manufacturer or fabrication lab.
The least desirable material for children’s lenses, says All About Vision, is glass. “Although it must be treated for safety, glass still shatters when it breaks, and broken glass – even safety glass – is a hazard to the eye. Glass lenses are also a little heavier, which makes them less comfortable to wear.”
5. Ask about the warranty
Remember, we’re talking kids here. The chances are the glasses will be sat on, dropped on to the asphalt or have an arm ripped off ‘accidentally’. Ensure the glasses are backed by a good and solid warranty.