Aug 16, 2019 12:00 AM

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 University of Utah 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 kids before you go shopping,” says Shaw. “The experience can sometimes feel intimidating—so much so that there are all kinds of kids’ picture books devoted to the subject. I highly recommend reading one with your child. In general, talk to them about wearing glasses—explain that clear vision is important for everything from playing games to doing well in school. Maybe point out a few favorite glass-wearing characters like Harry Potter, Pedro Pony, and the new Professor Hulk.”

Shaw also emphasizes the importance of planning your 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 that most kids noses haven’t developed enough to form a bridge. Glasses with a wide space between the lenses can slip down so much that kids look over them, defeating the whole purpose.
  • In general, try to avoid nose pads—the small pieces between the lenses. They can bend out of alignment, causing discomfort, and throwing glass frames off-kilter.
  • The latest trend in frames is bendy, rubberized material. Not only is it incredibly durable, but rubber offers the best fit. Rubberized frames come in every color and are relatively inexpensive, and the nose pads are part of the frame.
  • “Cabled temples”—side pieces that wrap around the ear—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 are also a 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.
  • Once you’ve selected the frames, ask about polycarbonate or Trivex lenses. Both are light and impact-resistant, filter UV rays, and come with scratch-resistant coating.
  • 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.
  • 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,” says Shaw. “The more comfortable and appropriate the fit, the more likely the child will adjust to and keep wearing the glasses.”

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