If you're a parent in search of the right pair of eyeglasses for your child, you probably know that walking into an optical store can be confusing. There is no shortage of children's eyeglass frames. The problem is: how do you figure out which ones: a) your child will be willing to wear; and b) will last longer than the ride home? At Cognac Eye Studio, we have a variety of frames styles for your children's needs.
Here are some of the factors we take into account as we help you find the right pair of glasses for your child.
1. Lens Thickness
The eyeglass prescription is always the primary consideration in choosing glasses. Before you start looking for the frames, consult with the optician about lens considerations.
If the prescription calls for strong lenses that are likely to be thick, it is important to keep the frames as small as possible to reduce the final lens thickness. Also, smaller lenses tend to have fewer higher-order aberrations near the edge of the lens than large lenses of the same material and prescription, so there is less risk of blurred or distorted peripheral vision.
2. Fashion Forward
Whether they are full- or part-time eyeglass wearers, most kids get at least a little teasing about their specs, especially the first time they wear them. So it's very important that they avoid frames that make them look "uncool." You also should steer your child away from frames that clearly are objectionable, too expensive or inappropriate.
Just keep in mind that the real object is to get your child to wear the glasses. Extra enticement may be found in ultra cool features like photochromic lenses with tints that darken outdoors, which may help inspire any child to want to wear glasses.
3. Plastic or Metal?
Children's frames are made of either plastic or metal and many have styles that intentionally mimic unisex eyeglass frames designed for adults. Kids often are attracted to these styles because they look more grown-up. It's not unusual for kids to ask for glasses that look just like Mom's or Dad's.
Ask for hypoallergenic materials if your child has shown sensitivity to certain substances. For example, some people are allergic to frame alloys that contain nickel.
4. Proper Bridge Fit
One of the toughest parts about choosing suitable frames for young children is that their noses are not fully developed, so they don't have a bridge to prevent plastic frames from sliding down. Metal frames, however, usually are made with adjustable nose pads, so they fit everyone's bridge.
Most manufacturers recognize this difficulty with plastic frames and make their bridges to fit small noses.
Each frame must be evaluated individually to make sure it fits the bridge. If any gaps exist between the bridge of the frame and the bridge of the nose, the weight of the lenses will cause the glasses to slide, no matter how well the frame seems to fit before the lenses are made.
5. The Right Temple Style
Temples that wrap all the way around the back of the ear help keep glasses from sliding down or dropping off a child's face completely.
Another option is a strap that goes around the head.
Eyeglasses with cable temples and/or straps are not a good choice for part-time wearers, however, because they are a bit more awkward to put on and take off. For glasses that go on and off frequently, it is better to have regular, or "skull," temples that go straight back and then curve gently around the back of the ear.
6. Spring Hinges
A nice feature to look for is temples with spring hinges. These special hinges allow the temples to flex outward, away from the frames, without causing any damage. Although they sometimes cost a bit more, spring hinges can be a worthwhile investment for children's eyewear.
Kids are not always careful when they put on and take off glasses, and spring hinges can help prevent the need for frequent adjustments and costly repairs. They also come in handy if the child falls asleep with the glasses on or just has a rough day at play. Spring hinges are strongly recommended for toddlers, who sometimes get carried away playing with their new glasses.
7. Lens Material
Children's lenses should be made of polycarbonate or Trivex. These materials are significantly more impact-resistant than other lens materials for added safety. Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses also are significantly lighter than regular plastic lenses, which makes the eyewear more comfortable — especially for strong prescriptions.
Polycarbonate and Trivex have built-in protection against potentially damagingultraviolet (UV) rays, and the lenses are scratch-resistant coated by the manufacturer or fabrication lab.
The price for polycarbonate lenses generally is comparable to the cost for regular plastic lenses with UV and scratch-resistant coatings. And with polycarbonate, kids get that extra margin of safety to protect their eyes. Keep in mind that Trivex lenses may cost a little more than polycarbonate.
The least desirable material for your child's lenses is glass. Although it must be treated for impact resistance, glass still shatters when it breaks, and broken glass — even safety glass — is a hazard to the eye. Glass lenses also are significantly heavier, which makes them less comfortable to wear.
8. Sports Eyewear
Polycarbonate is such a safe lens material that you may be tempted to let your child play sports in his regular glasses.
Here's the drawback: Although polycarbonate is the lens material used for sports eyewear, regular eyeglass frames do not provide enough protection from large objects such as balls and flying elbows. So if your kid is involved in sports, a propersports goggle with polycarbonate lenses will provide the best protection against eye injury.
Many optical retailers offer a warranty plan that will replace eyewear at no charge or for a small fee in case of damage to the frames or lenses. Consider opting for the warranty, especially if your child is a toddler or a first-time wearer.
10. Backup Pair
Because children can be tough on their eyewear, it's always a good idea to purchase a second, or backup, pair of eyeglasses for them. This especially is true if your child has a strong prescription and cannot function without his or her glasses.