Little ones straining to see may be in need of prescription glasses. For kids, though, there are quite a few considerations parents should keep in mind before rushing to pick out a set of frames.
While a trained optician will be able to assist parents in picking out the right frames for their child, there are a few go-to tips for mom and dad to keep in mind when searching for and purchasing kids prescription glasses.
1. They should be the right fit – and be durable.
Shea Ferree Carney, O.D., of Marston Optometry in Livonia, says first and foremost, “you want something that is comfortable and durable.”
Ensure eyeglasses fit the child’s face well. “Due to the nature of their small faces, it is best when they try on frames that fit best initially,” Ferree Carney says. “There are adjustments that can be made, but ideally not large changes to the frame itself.”
Barb Ranville, ABO-C, a certified optician at Children’s Eye Care’s Clinton Township location, says, “I usually tell the parents that we have to figure that the child is going to grow quite a bit in one year.” That means when first fit for glasses, Ranville gives children a little bit of extra room to grow into their glasses.
Let’s face it: kids aren’t the most gentle with expensive, delicate things. That’s why parents should make sure they’re purchasing eyewear that is made of durable materials.
“Usually for infants or those at least under 2, there are special frames such as MiraFlex that are made with durable materials, (are) small sizes and (have) bands that wrap around their heads to keep them on,” Ferree Carney says.
But, the reality is, kids may break their glasses. For this reason, Ranville says parents should “make sure wherever they go that there’s a warranty attached – because they’re going to need it more than once.
Both note lenses made of polycarbonate are the standard for patients under 18, which they explain is due to their impact resiliency.
Also in regards to lenses, Ranville adds opticians at Children’s Eye Care consider a deeper lens depth from top to bottom “because children are notorious for trying to look over the top of their glasses.”
A thicker frame may be needed for those who have strong prescriptions, like high minus powers that require lenses with thick outer edges, Ranville says.
2. Kids sports glasses are a thing – and your child may need them.
It’s probably best super sporty kids and swimmers don’t play sports (or try to swim) in their regular eyeglasses to avoid bends and breaks. That’s why sports glasses for kids – as well as prescription swim goggles – exist. “There are special recreational frames for sports that allow them the best peripheral vision and protection – unlike their dress frames,” Ferree Carney explains.
Ranville says sports frames even come equipped with special cushions on the bridge areas and around the inside of the glasses. “It’s not always about it being an overly durable frame. It’s also about the protection that’s there in the frame, too,” Ranville says.
At Children’s Eye Care, she notes they carry sports glasses that have straps, which wrap around the child’s head, instead of the standard arms. Some sports glasses even come with skull caps to go over the top of the strap so tight-fitting helmets don’t pull glasses off.
Parents should ask their optician about the need for sports glasses and have their child fitted if necessary.
3. Make sure your child actually likes their glasses and knows how to take care of them.
Since you want to encourage children to wear the glasses they need to see properly, they should be able to weigh in and help pick out the frames they’ll be sporting.
“It’s very important because if (parents) override completely, the kid is not going to like them as well,” Ranville says.
In addition to liking their glasses, kids will also need to learn how to care for their frames so they don’t end up damaged or lost.
Ranville says she teaches children – especially those new to wearing glasses – how to properly remove and put on their glasses so as not to damage the fit (take them on and off with two hands, lift up and off the ears before pulling them off the face).
“I always tell parents and their children in the exam that their glasses are very important and that they need to treat them like they are the most important thing they own,” Ferree Carney adds. “One of my favorite sayings is that their glasses either need to be on their face or in the case.”
Another suggestion Ranville offers to cut down on losing glasses: consider transition lenses for kids. Not only will they turn dark to protect the child’s eyes from UV rays, but it gives kids one less pair of glasses to keep track of.
4. Have an eye exam yearly.
Ferree Carney says children typically need to have their prescription checked annually – and kids, “may change their glasses at that time as well, as they usually have more wear and tear.”
Children with special prescriptions may need to have their eyes checked and lenses updated more than once per year depending on the condition and the doctor’s recommendations.
5. If glasses are crooked – or not being worn – see a specialist.
Ranville explains glasses should fit a child so well they’re not irritating or uncomfortable. If the glasses fit well, kids won’t have problems wearing them.
If parents notice they’re crooked, sliding off or not being worn at all, bring the child in to see an optician. If they’re not on straight, children aren’t seeing through them properly, she notes.
“A good fit is equal to a good adjustment,” Ranville says.
What parents should avoid
There’s one potential mistake parents should avoid if possible, and that’s buying prescription glasses for kids online.
“For children, it is best to not purchase online as you cannot verify they are the correct prescription, or verify that the lenses are made to certain safety specifications,” Ferree Carney says.
It’s best to see a trained professional who can properly test a child’s eyes and find the right frame for their face.