If you have recently walked into an optical shop, you will know it’s not easy selecting a frame for your child. Especially if it’s the first time. The options available can drive parents mad. And top of that, the preferences of our children, however young they may be, complicate matters even more.
When we prescribe glasses to children, parents always ask these questions: What type of frame should we select? Should the frames have a band to hold the frame in place?, What type of lens should we select?, How will my child play sports with glasses on his face? Etc.
Here are six things to remember while selecting glasses for children:
Material: When I was young what was available for children were miniature adult frames. So, they were made of the same materials that adult frames were made out off. Today, we have frames that you can say are made out of plastic. Technically, it is known as ‘TR material’ but let’s call it plastic for the sake of this article. These frames are totally flexible and never break. Of course, there is even a ‘Sheet’ material which has been available for many years and continues to be an acceptable choice. It's important to not choose a metal frame for children as these can harm the child's face or eyes if they break while children are doing their thing.
Frames: Young children don’t have a very well-developed nose and thus they have a flattish nose. Now, adult frames stay on a face because they sit on the nose. This is not possible in the case of children. So, frames tend to slide down a child’s face. Which is why, wrap around bands or hooks which go behind the ears are great choices for children frames. These frames also help children who play sports because they sit well on the face and don’t fall off very easily.
Safety: The other advantage of plastic frames (TR Material) is they don’t have any sharp edges so even if the frame breaks, it won’t hurt the child’s eyes or the face. In fact, plastic frames don’t break very easily. What we have found is that children change these frames and get new ones either because they have outgrown them or because their frames have started looking old and scratched.
Shape: Now let’s talk about how big the glasses should be. Shape of the frame should not be too narrow or too wide. The frame should be wide enough to cover the entire eye along with some area around the eye. This is done so that the child’s field of view is not restricted by the edges of the frame. At same time if the frame is too small, it would be very uncomfortable and the child will refuse to wear it.
Lenses: Coming to lenses, the toughest lenses available are polycarbonate which don’t break and thus are very safe for children. This quality makes these lenses excellent for any sporting activity. The disadvantage of these lenses is they can get scratched very easily and therefore might require frequent replacement.
When the child has a high power, the lenses look thicker and are heavier. To solve this issue, one can select lenses with a higher refractive index which makes the lens thinner so it looks cosmetically better and is lighter.
Keep a backup: The most important thing is to have a spare pair of glasses. This is especially important for children who have a high power. If the glasses of these children break, they suddenly are left with no pair of glasses for a few days and that becomes very challenging for them.