EYEWEAR FOR KIDS: Shopping for Safety, Fit and Fashion
It's a common scenario: you start to
notice that your child is blinking and squinting frequently, sitting only
inches away from the screen during TV time, and holding that book a little
too close to their face while reading.
Being an aware
parent, you know that vision problems can hinder your child's
development, so you schedule their annual eye examination. The exam ends
with the doctor handing you a prescription for the necessary eyewear.
Like one in four school age children, your child has a problem with their
What type of eyewear should you and your little
one shop for? Not only are there tons of styles out there, but there's
also lots of technical considerations for fitting and maintaining your
child's eyewear. Whether your tyke is a current eyeglass wearer or
new, here are the shopping tips to get them looking spiffy in their
Frames: Find Fortitude
Shop for strong frames that can
stand up to your child's active lifestyle. The two main frame material
options are metal and plastic. Plastic frames were once known as the
sturdier choice for children, although modern innovations have leveled
the two frame materials as equals. In fact, hypoallergenic metals like
titanium and stainless steel are great for kids because they are strong
and can sustain lots of wear and tear. Another current invention on the
market, memory metal frames bend freely and will retain their shape
after pulling and mistreatment. Your vision provider will suggest the
best frame type for your child and the lenses being prescribed.
Lenses: Seek Safety and Strength
Safety is first when it comes to lenses. Most vision experts
agree that polycarbonate is the best lens material not only for its impact
resistance (often called "shatterproof"), but for its durability and light
weight. Plus, polycarbonate lenses are manufactured with scratch coating and
are UV resistant. Many vision providers will only prescribe polycarbonate
lenses for children's eyeglasses.
Target the Total Fit
Sure, the frame and lenses are important, but adding in the
right features can equal fitting perfection. Carefully constructed eyeglasses
are virtually useless if they are sliding off your child's face. Frames that
are too tight can cause pain. Talk to your eye care professional about how
the below features can give your child's eyeglasses just the right fit:
- Adjustable nose pads and Saddle bridges: Great for fitting smaller
noses, these will help keep the glasses on your youngster's face and make
them more comfortable.
- Cable temples: Unlike traditional temples,
these wrap all the way around the back of the ear and help keep eyeglasses
stable. They are a good choice for full-time eyeglass wearers; however,
care should be used when removing eyeglasses. Traditional temples might be
a better choice for youngsters who remove their eyeglasses
- Spring hinges: These allow the frame temples to be
pulled outwards while eyeglasses are being put on, without causing damage.
Usually recommended for children who frequently put on/remove
eyeglasses. Spring hinges can be a worthwhile investment that can help
you save money on eyeglass repairs for rough and tumble children.
To Contact or Not to Contact
Contact lenses and
young children don't normally mix. This has always been the traditional
wisdom that kept many optometrists from prescribing contact lenses to
younger children, except for specific vision conditions or involvement
in certain sports. However, a recent study demonstrated that 9 out of
10 children (ages 8-11) could apply and remove daily disposables without
their parents' help./2 If a youngster is set on contact
lenses and can commit to the high level of care and cleanliness that they
demand, parental oversight and frequent eye checks are a must.
a backup pair of eyeglasses to the list as well.
Long gone are the days where glasses meant geeky. In fact,
glasses can be downright hip. Trends abound for the many young eyeglass
wearers out there. Today's fashion forward frames that include pop-culture
icons themes and removable charms can make hesitant kids comfortable, and
even excited, with eyeglasses. And that means they will be more likely to
Additional Shopping Tips:
- All eyeglass wearers
should have a replacement pair of eyeglasses since breakages can occur,
especially with active children.
- If your child plays sports, safety
glasses consisting of polycarbonate lenses and safety sports frames should
be used. A standard metal or plastic frame will not suffice as sports
eyewear and can be dangerous.
- Don't expect a child to grow into
their eyeglasses. Make sure they fit your child like a glove before you
take them home.
- Ask about scratch warranties which will replace
scratched lenses with new ones. This could be a small investment with
significant benefits if your child is rough on their glasses.
Download as PDF
"Common Eye Problems in Children," Prevent Blindness America Website, 2005 (Jan.2011). http://www.preventblindness.org/children/index.html
"Daily Disposable Contact Lens Wear in Myopic
Children, Optometry and Vision Science Web Site, 2004 (Jan. 2011). http://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Fulltext/2004/04000/