Skip to main content

Kids' Eyeglasses: Fit Is Everything

Child Eyeglasses

When her family posted this captivating video of tiny Piper seeing the world through a pair of glasses for the first time, it went wildly viral. It's no wonder. Her expression could melt an iceberg. It also helped to send a vital message about monitoring your child's vision.

Even when serious problems such as congenital cataracts are ruled out soon after birth, symptoms such as large or constant misalignment of the eyes are cause for concern. But, did you know that cancer, farsightedness and nearsightedness, can also be found during infants' eye exams? That's why David Dries, MD of the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah recommends that all infants receive a comprehensive eye exam by six months of age.

If that exam leads to a recommendation for glasses, your next concern is finding the proper fit. "When it comes to kids, the first pair of glasses is the most challenging," says Ellen Linde-Fagergren, American Board of Opticianry (ABO) certified pediatric specialist at the Moran Optical Shop. She's been fitting children's glasses for all ages, including children with special needs, for 17 years.

The stakes are incredibly high in the world of kids' vision. Whether they have special needs or simply require a slight correction, their vision is constantly developing, so the wrong prescription or "slightly off" fit can actually cause further complications. "The child's world changes entirely when he or she puts on glasses. It can change their depth perception," Linde-Fagergren notes. "The brain and eyes have to work together to force the eye muscles to properly align. You don't want kids to be looking above or below their lenses, so it's function first, fashion second."

It's not unusual to find Linde-Fagergren sitting on the floor with her pint-size clients as she talks to them and to their parents at the same time, reassuring everyone about the benefits of glasses and schooling them in the challenges—from breaking them in slowly to what to do when they break—to the benefits, including important warranties. A mom herself, she has a gentle but confidence-inspiring way of getting clients of all ages to listen—and see.

Special Needs

Houston Thompson was less than a year old when his parents, Krystal and Blake, met with Moran pediatric optician Linde-Fagergren to fit his first pair of glasses.

The event marked one more step in the process of adjusting to Houston's microtia—a congenital condition where the outer ear does not develop fully. As a result of microtia, he also has a slightly droopy eyelid on his right side and a fixation preference for the left eye compared to the right.

"Houston's depth perception is off on his right side," says his mom, "so until he started wearing glasses, it was hard for him to even put objects into a bucket if the objects fell behind him on his right side. He has no hearing on his right side and that makes it a little harder to hear noises that most people would hear normally. But even though he has glasses and only one ear, he can do all the things other children do."

At a recent fitting, a few things were evident the moment he put the glasses on. Clearly, he could see more of the world around him as he looked around the shop; he is a typically active, curious toddler who is still adjusting to these corrective lenses and the T-strap in his wavy brown hair; and he and Linde-Fagergren have bonded. As Houston grows, she will be here for him, possibly up until he is a young teenager. If he needs protective sports glasses or ski goggles, she has solutions for those, too.

"We chose Moran because it's one of the only places that have glasses to fit a child this young," says Krystal. "Also, we heard that Ellen was great to work with, and that certainly turned out to be true."