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How to Choose the Best Eyeglasses for Your Child

Kids' vision is constantly developing, so whether they have special needs or require a slight correction, the stakes are incredibly high when it comes to getting the right prescription and fit for your child's eyeglasses.

"The wrong prescription or a fit that's slightly off can actually cause further complications," says John A. Moran Eye Center optometrist Robert Corry, MD.

Corry emphasizes that a child's world changes entirely when he or she puts on glasses. The brain and eyes have to work together to force the eye muscles to properly align for focus and depth perception, so you don't want kids to be looking above or below their lenses.

"Your optometrist is responsible for the prescription," he says. "But the next step is up to you—so be prepared and take your time, especially with that first pair."

How to shop for kids' eyeglasses

Moran's Optical Shop Manager Patrick Shaw has seen it all when it comes to fitting kids with their first pair of eyeglasses.

"It's a big event, and we all want it to go as smoothly as possible," he says. "With a little background information and preparation, parents can help make the process of shopping for and fitting their kids' glasses a positive experience. The ultimate goal is for the kids to wear what you buy, so there are lots of elements to consider."

Talk with your child: Glasses are cool!

"Set the stage for wearing glasses by talking to child before you go shopping," Shaw says. "The experience can sometimes feel intimidating—so much so that there are all kinds of kids' picture books devoted to the subject."

Shaw recommends reading one of these books with your child. Explaining why clear vision is important for playing games to doing well in school is important too. He suggests pointing out a few favorite glass-wearing characters like Harry Potter or Pedro Pony.

It's also important to plan an optical shop visit at a time when your child is likely to feel rested and relaxed—not right after a long eye exam, or when they're hungry or tired. Let them bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal along.

Fit and function over fashion: Lens and frame checklist

Fashion is fun, but it can be impractical. Consider these options when choosing the best eyeglasses for your child:

  • Rubberized frames: These bendy made out of rubberized material is not only durable, but rubber offers the best fit. Rubberized frames come in every color and are relatively inexpensive. The nose pads are part of the frame too.
  • Cabled temples: These are side pieces that wrap around the ear and are especially helpful for rambunctious toddlers or youngsters who may be tempted to pull the glasses off. Another option is a frame that includes an adjustable elastic strap that goes around the head.
  • Spring hinges: This is another practical choice for toddlers and younger kids. These allow the temples to flex outward, away from the frames, without damaging them. They also help prevent the need for frequent adjustments or repairs.
  • Polycarbonate or Trivex lenses: Once you've selected the frames, ask about these lenses. Both are light and impact-resistant, filter UV rays, and come with a scratch-resistant coating.

Other tips to consider:

  • Avoid nose pads: Most kids’ noses haven't developed enough to form a bridge. Glasses with a wide space between the lenses can slip down and cause ta child to look over them, defeating the whole purpose. Nose pads can bend out of alignment, cause discomfort, and throw glass frames off-kilter.
  • Look for an eyeglass warranty: Childrens' glasses need to be able to take a beating, so consider durability and make sure the glasses come with a one- or two-year warranty against breakage and excessive scratching.
  • Get a backup pair: Ask if there's a discount for buying a backup pair. It's always a good idea to have a spare, especially if your child has a strong prescription and can't get by without glasses.

"Whatever your choices, it's important to get a professional fitting by an optician who can make sure everything lines up," Shaw says. "The more comfortable and appropriate the fit, the more likely the child will adjust to and keep wearing the glasses."