It is a clear-cut fact that the ability to see is crucial to the development and learning of young children. This article explains how choosing and fitting spectacles for young children is an art-form in itself!
20 years ago, children were rarely given thought and optometrists had very little on offer. Frames were black or brown and were considered medical appliances for children. It is no wonder that glasses developed such a bad reputation!
More children are wearing glasses now than ever before. Due to increased awareness, children are tested at a younger age, screened sooner and problems are often diagnosed and corrected in the early stages. The increase in demand has helped to highlight the fact that when it comes to eyewear, children are not miniature adults and their needs need to be carefully considered.
Children are not miniature adults!
Young children do not have a developed nose and as a result, a good children’s frame must have a lower and flatter crest/bridge. This ensures that the frame stays flat against the nose but also does not cause undue pressure on the delicate growing bones and sinuses. A great children’s frame should have the ability to grip comfortably behind the ears and the ability to shorten the sides/temples for the perfect fit. Active and curious toddlers benefit from safety straps, elastic or rubberized bands that help keep the frame in place.
It may be instinctive for parents to want to choose a spectacle frame their child can grow into. It is true that children grow at a phenomenal rate however the correct frame has to fit ‘now’. An ill fitting frame will be easily knocked off, it is more likely to slide off and create unwanted optical effects and result in thick lenses.
No material is unbreakable but many materials come close! Frames that are light and flexible are not only comfortable but also resist cracking. Most children’s frames carry a 1-2 year manufacturer’s guarantee for factory faults.
Light, impact resistant and durable lenses are the choice for children of all ages. Although scratch resistant hard coatings protect lenses, they do not prevent scratches but reduce their likelihood. Lenses should block out harmful UV light and be as thin as possible. An experienced pediatric dispenser is able to advise parents on frame size relative to the prescription to ensure the thinnest and lightest lens possible.
Frames for preschoolers, toddlers and babies should have no loose parts. Across the age groups, safety of glasses is largely influenced by the choice of impact resistant lenses and flexible, well fitted frames. Safety is especially important for children who play sport. Frames should be regularly re-aligned and adjusted to ensure a good fit. Lenses should be examined regularly as scratched lenses lose their impact resistance.
The changing image of spectacles
The image portrayed by wearing spectacles is important to both parents and children. Children have become more fashion and brand conscious and as a result are more positive about wearing glasses. It is up to the optometrist and pediatric dispenser to ensure that the young patient is guided in choosing glasses that are comfortable, durable, safe and fashionable.
Eyetek Optometrists have a special interest and extensive experience in children’s vision; vision related learning difficulties, behavioural optometry, visual pathway therapy and vision therapy. Our practices hold an extensive range of carefully selected children’s eyewear for children of all ages.