Everything you wanted to know about children’s glasses
Danielle D. Crull (Miss Danielle) is an American Board of Opticianry Master-Certified Optician. She specializes in fitting and dispensing glasses for children, and runs the website A Child’s Eyes, which has fantastic information about kids and glasses.
Miss Danielle graciously agreed to do an interview with me focusing on choosing and fitting children’s glasses. The information she’s provided is invaluable!
Ann: What led you to your focus on pediatric eyecare?
Miss Danielle: I’ve been an optician for 21 years and have always felt that the pediatric portion of the eyewear market was underserved. Kids come in so many shapes and sizes, but the selection of children’s glasses was minimal. This was frustrating as an optician trying to get a really good fitting pair of glasses for my young patients. I always ended up modifying the glasses in someway to make them fit properly, for example changing temple lengths, replacing nose pads, etc. Unfortunately, most opticians are unwilling to do this. So I would end up seeing so many kids with poorly fitting glasses, only to have me refit them properly. I absolutely love helping kids with their glasses!!! So focusing on pediatrics seemed like the right thing to do.
Ann: On your site, you say that “children’s glasses are NOT small grown-up glasses.” What are some of the main differences between children’s and adults’ eyewear?
Miss Danielle: The main differences are durability and wearability. Children’s eyewear is sturdier with spring hinges and tougher metals that can withstand a child’s activity level. They also have smaller bridges. Children’s glasses need to have the weight balanced particularly on either side the nose bridge because a child’s bridge isn’t fully developed yet.
Ann: One thing that was so overwhelming for us when we first started looking for glasses for Zoe was the number of choices in frames such as metal vs plastic frames, or type of nose piece or temples. What are some of the reasons for going with one style or material over another?
Miss Danielle: It’s so wonderful to have a lot of choices for kid’s glasses nowadays. It’s much more fun than when I was little. Metal frames have the most adjustability in them. They have adjustable nose pieces that can be positioned separately for each side of the nose. I like these for most kids. Plastic frames have molded nosepieces for the most part and can not be adjusted. So it is imperative that they fit well from the beginning. Spring hinge temples (the ones that spring out on the sides and back again) are a must for every kid’s pair of glasses.
It’s important that you go to someone you can trust. There are a lot of “cheap” frames out there. I’m not talking about price necessarily but quality-wise. Things like solid solder points that you will never be able to assess on your own, so it’s best if you have someone who will recommend something of value. The last thing you want is a pair of glasses that is faulty in the soldering, which could be a real danger to your child.
Ann: What other things should we think about when choosing the frames for our children?
Miss Danielle: Make sure your child likes them!!! It’s is so important that they love how they look in them. Of course a little guidance goes a long way. If your child is the one who picks the most vibrant and craziest looking things and you can’t bear to see it on your child’s face for the next year, then stop by and pick a few frames out first that are acceptable to you and then let your child choose from what you have already deemed “OK.”
Ann: Although I just mentioned being overwhelmed with so many choices for frames, I know that many parents live far away from anywhere that specializes in eyewear for children, and they’re left with nearly no selection. Do you have any advice for parents that can’t find glasses they like for their children?
Miss Danielle: Yes, drive the distance if you possibly can. It is well worth it in the long run. Most likely you will only need to make the trip once, unless you need to use your breakage or scratching warranty. You can always get adjustments and minor repairs close to home, maybe at the place you bought your own glasses. I always show the moms and dads how their little ones glasses should be fitting. This way they can make sure it is done properly at a local optical shop. I can’t emphasize enough how important fitting is. It literally can be the difference between OK vision and excellent vision. So, I think it’s worth the trip to get things started properly for your child. I have patients who live in Iowa!
Ann: Given how quickly our children are growing, should we order frames that are a little big for our child’s face so they’ll fit longer?
Miss Danielle: No, this is not a good idea. It’s like buying shoes too big. Glasses that are too big will likely slip down the nose and change their visual acuity to something less than what the doctor prescribed. That’s the best thing that could happen, the worst is that they are likely to look over their glasses, which means they will have no vision correction at all! I see that out in public all the time, kids looking over their glasses. What’s the point of spending money on glasses that your kids aren’t even looking through? Would you buy shoes that are so big your kids can only tie knots in them and hang around their neck?
Ann: I feel like we’re visiting our eye glasses place for adjustments all the time. Is it normal to need to get them adjusted every few weeks? What signs should we watch out for that would indicate that the glasses need adjusting?
Miss Danielle: (Laughs) Everyday someone else comes in to my office asking if they come more than anyone else. I assure them that they are not alone. This is life with a little one in glasses. They go through phases, but more than likely you’ll become good friends with your optician. Personally, I enjoy seeing the kids often. If you notice any of the following you should stop by and have your child’s glasses adjusted:
- glasses that slip down,
- marks on the nose that are uneven or not symmetrical on either side of the nose,
- marks on the nose that don’t go away after about 5 minutes,
- glasses that are crooked on their face,
- any marks behind the ears.
- For the younger ones, if you notice any behavior changes, i.e.: doesn’t want to wear them, picking at their ears or rubbing their eyes, and watery eyes.
Ann: Any other advice or information you’d like to pass along to the little four eyes parents?
Miss Danielle: Glasses are very fashionable, but don’t loose sight (no pun intended) of what they are intended to do. Their function is to help your child’s visual system work properly. One thing parents often forget is to make sure the lenses are clean and free from scratches. I know cleaning your child’s glasses can be a full-time job, but it really is important. Remember, your child is still learning how to see until they reach the ages of 7-9, so make sure they are getting the best possible vision…and don’t miss those frequent visits to the eye doctor.
Many, many thanks to Miss Danielle for taking the time to answer our questions!