Choosing Eyeglass Frames for Children
According to statistics, approximately one out of five children need to wear glasses to see accurately. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get children to wear glasses for one of several reasons. Children can find glasses uncomfortable, “uncool” and unstylish, or too fragile for an active life.
Fortunately, there are strong, comfortable, stylish frames now made for children. These glasses not only improve vision, but they look great. These are some of the things you should look for when buying eyeglass frames for your child:
The right fit
A comfortable, correct fit is essential for children’s glasses. The frames should not be too big or too small, too close to the cheekbone and not higher than the eyebrow. The frames should fit the face well, and not be wider than the face itself. In general, the smaller the frames the easier it is for a child to forget about them, and not mind wearing them. However, they need to be large enough so that your child can see easily in all directions. An eye specialist needs to help fit the glasses, because the middle of the glasses needs to be adjusted to directly correspond to the middle of the pupils of the eye. Even small fitting errors can lead to much less effective vision correction. Parents should resist any urge to buy glasses that are a bit large for their children to grow into.
It’s also very important that the glasses fit properly on the bridge of the nose. Children have small noses and bridges, so the nose support of the glasses needs to fit very well, and be comfortable, with padding. If the glasses sit on pressure points, they will be very uncomfortable, and it’s unlikely your child will wear them. A new feature is gel-padding, that makes the nose bridge extra comfortable. With these features the glasses will be more comfortable to wear. Pay attention to the way the frames fit at the temples. They should fit comfortably, without pressure, and without being too loose. Spring hinges are very strong, and will ensure the frames have a long lifetime of wear. Eyeglasses fitted with sport temples are also an option. These temples are flexible, and are fitted for a child’s ear.
Materials Frame materials for children’s glasses need to have three properties – be extremely strong, break resistant and light. The ideal frame will be made out of a flexible material that can be bent about without breaking. For this reason eyeglass frames made of titanium are a good choice, as this material is light and strong. As for the lenses, polycarbonate lenses are more impact-resistant than other lenses, and are a good choice for children’s glasses.
Many parents don’t know the importance of sunglasses for children and don’t stress that they wear them, especially given the hassle involved in encouraging children to wear them and take care of them properly. However, studies show that since we spend so much time outdoors and in the sunshine as children that by the age of 18, our eyes and body have absorbed half of our lifetime ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. This makes the use of sunglasses and proper UV protection even more critical for children.
Risks to children’s eyes from overexposure to the sun can be short term and long term. Short terms risks include photokeratitis also known as “snow blindness” which is essentially a sunburn of the eye. Photokeratitis can cause temporary vision loss for up to 48 hours. Pterygium is another condition, also referred to as “surfer’s eye,” which causes an itchy, swollen growth to form on the surface of the eye. Pterygium often require surgery to remove.
Long term UV damage is known to be a risk factor for a number of eye diseases including cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes vision loss) and age-related macular degeneration, which also causes permanent vision loss and low vision, as well as cancer of the eye, eyelid or the skin around the eye. Wearing sunglasses with wide or wrap-around lenses will protect not only your eyes, but also the area around your eyes from UV exposure and damage. Since these diseases can be caused by an accumulation of UV exposure over a lifetime, it is important to start preventative measures early, by getting children in the habit of wearing sunglasses when they are outside.
Quality sunglasses for children are easy to find these days, you just have to know what to look for. Firstly, you want to make sure that the lenses have 100% UVA and UVB protection and block UV absorption up to 400 nanometers. You also want to ensure that the frames completely cover as much of the eye and its surrounding as possible. Many frames will come with a band to help hold the sunglasses in place and prevent loss. You may also choose to buy polycarbonate or trivex lenses, as they are more durable and impact resistant which is particularly helpful for active kids.
Children that already wear eyeglasses can consider photochromic lenses (which darken in response to sunlight) which basically gives them two pairs of glasses for the price of one. With photochromic lenses, you don’t need to worry about your children switching, and misplacing glasses when they go in or outdoors.
As with any glasses purchase, ask your optician about the policy for lost or broken sunglasses. Make sure you get a strong storage case and discuss with your child the best ways to keep the sunglasses safe and secure.
Lastly, let your child be involved in the process of selecting sunglasses, as any child will be more enthusiastic about wearing shades that he or she picked out and loves.
Sports can be particularly challenging for children who need to wear glasses. Glasses tend to slip and slide with strong movements. Special sports glasses for children are available, that are made entirely out of plastic, with temples that don’t include hinges. These glasses include an elastic strap for the head that helps make sure the glasses stay in place.
Include your child
The most important part of choosing eyeglasses, is choosing them with your child. Include your child in the choice of glasses, among styles that are suitable. If your child likes the way the glasses look and feel, there is a much better chance that your child will actually wear them. When children wear their glasses they are more successful at everything that they do, both casual activities like sports and games, and learning activities at school.