Top Tips and Tricks for Buying Children's Eyewear
The chances are good that if you and/or your partner wear glasses, your child will need some form of visual help too. Fortunately, long gone are the days of ugly, miniature models of mom and pop glasses for children to wear. Today, children can select from a large variety of eyewear; whether they want their glasses colorful, flashy, subtle or outrageous, you are likely to find just about anything anywhere you look.
Does your child need glasses?
The best way to find out whether your child needs vision correction is by taking them to the eye doctor for regular eye exams. It is particularly important to do this before the start of school each year, to ensure that your child won't miss valuable learning time because they can't see well. (Note: an eye exam given in school typically covers only the bare minimum and is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care professional.)
You can also observe your child's behavior between exams. Signs of vision problems in children include:
- Holding books close to the face when reading or sitting close to the TV
- Squinting, tilting or turning the head or closing one eye when looking at things
- Avoiding close work (sometimes by claiming they dislike it)
- Losing place when reading or using a finger as a guide
- Difficulty seeing distant objects, like a blackboard
- Excessive blinking or eye rubbing
If you suspect your child may be having vision problems, you should schedule an eye exam for them as soon as possible. Childhood is when the eyes and brain develop essential connections, so a full examination and early intervention are critical for your child's long term health and happiness.
Choosing glasses: durability and safety concerns
Do you need to go to a pediatric optometrist? Probably not; most optometrists and other eye care professionals carry a wide selection of eye wear, even for children. But you might want to call ahead to find out what types of eye wear they offer, especially if you or your child have something specific in mind.
But how to choose a child's eye wear? It's important that their glasses do several things: they have to fit well, give clear vision, and be safe for even the roughest children. Also, since children are not as careful with their glasses as adults would be, it is important that you choose their frames and lenses with durability in mind. Some of the best choices for eye glass materials for children include:
- Polycarbonate plastics for frames and lenses. Extremely durable and frames can be virtually any color or shape, so you're sure to find something to please even the most reluctant child.
- Polycarbonate lenses must be given a scratch-resistant coating.
- Metals, especially titanium. Titanium is one of the toughest metals and can be made into a fairly lightweight frame.
- Sports frames. If your child is active in sports, or maybe just a bit more accident prone than the average kid, it may be wise to consider using sports frames even for everyday use.
Keep in mind that even the most durable materials can still break. Your child should be taught that his or her glasses are very important and shown how to handle them correctly. If your child is particularly careless or forgetful, and simple reminders are ineffective, consider more creative tactics. For example, a really cool glasses case might inspire your child to put their glasses away properly for the night.
Color and style
Whenever possible, you should involve your child in the process of choosing their glasses. Any child will be much more likely to actually wear their glasses if they like them and find them comfortable. Some children may prefer frames in their favorite color or with a popular cartoon character, while others will want more grown-up style frames, perhaps ones that look like mom's or dad's. You may be surprised by what your child chooses. At some frame stores, you may even find buy-one, get-one-free sales which can make the frames into more of a fun fashion accessory than a medical necessity.
It's important to be patient while you're shopping for glasses. An adult might take an hour or longer to choose their glasses, however they might expect a child to make the same choice in a few minutes of time. Choose a day when you have time to spare; don't sandwich the trip between ten other errands. Encourage your child to try on different frames so they can discover their own unique style.
Getting glasses on a reluctant child
Even with the cutest frames and the best lenses, there might still be some reluctance to wear the glasses. Some kids would rather deal with fuzzy vision and fail classes than be seen wearing glasses, especially if they are being teased by their classmates (or fear they will be). If this is the case with your child, try pointing out that many of their favorite sports stars, actors and musicians wear glasses. In addition, if your child is hoping to get contact lenses, remind them that they will first have to show you that they can handle the responsibility by wearing and caring for their glasses correctly.