Category Archives: babies with glasses

Guest post – A parents’ guide to choosing glasses that fit your child

In the Little Four Eyes facebook group, the question of whether glasses fit a child well comes up often, and Melony has become known as one of our experts, based in large part on her own experiences finding glasses that fit on a variety of ages of kids.  Melony was gracious enough to write up a fantastic guide on finding glasses that fit your child well.  – Ann Z


Finding glasses that fit your child

You may have just got some startling information about your child’s vision or you may have had one or more children in glasses for some time, but have never had a clear understanding about how to choose frames so have had to rely on the knowledge of optical staff.  Either way, a good understanding of how glasses should fit is something every parent of a child in glasses should have. Sadly, it can be hard to find an optical shop with staff trained especially in regards to fitting children.

I was blessed to have an amazing first optician and much of what I know about glasses he taught me. I was so sad when he left our ophthalmologist’s office for the mission field.  The rest of the information comes from lots of in the trenches experience because I am blessed with not only one or even two children in glasses, but FIVE.  This means countless frame try­-ons and lots of frame purchases.  I hope to give you some good basic tips for Do’s and Don’t when shopping for frames.

Note: if you ordered frames today after a long stressful vision appointment and are not  feeling comfortable with your purchase please call and place a hold on the order until  you can do a bit of research and make an educated decision. I know you are incredibly anxious to get your sweet child the glasses they need but please don’t rush. Children are amazingly adaptable and you’s has been managing all of this time. A few more weeks to make sure you get frames that will be perfect are worth the wait.

I use three criteria when shopping for frames  FIT, FUNCTION, and FASHION in that  order.

FIT

Fit is crucial. Glasses that fit well stay put, encouraging your child to look through the appropriate part of the lens.  They are more comfortable, which encourages compliance, and frankly they look more attractive.  Glasses need to fit your child today so we never want to size up for growth.  Bigger is definitely not better when it comes to frames. They slip and slide out of place drawing attention from your child and begging to be ripped off and chucked on the floor.  Bigger frames mean bigger lenses. Big lenses are heavy and cause the frames to slide  down their nose. Frames that fit don’t move even while laying down or rough play.

When trying on samples, this is how I help our children choose great frames and it has served us well: First, find the measurement of a frame that fits well. Frames have three measurements, usually marked inside of the frame and typically appear in the format: XX-­XX­-XXX. These number are in millimeters and represent the lens width, bridge width, and temple(arm) length.

glasses sizing
The size of a frame is often listed on the inside of the temple as XX-XX-XXX. That represents the lens width, the bridge width, and the temple length, in millimeters.

 

The lens width is the first measurement and describes the width of one lens in millimeters. The first step we use when trying to find if frames fit is to check lens widths.  When you place a frame on your child, bend down to look directly into their face to get the best idea of fit.  You are trying to center their eye both horizontally and vertically.

front fit
Your child’s eyes should be centered vertically and horizontally in the lenses

Looking at your child’s frame width the sides of the glasses should not be touching their face until they reach the ear or have a large gap between the frame and the side of the face. There should be no taper in or out on their path to the ear.  From the hinge to the earpiece the temples should travel a straight parallel path along the side of  their head.  If the temples are angling into the ear go down in lens width, bowing out go up. Off the shelf frames are scaled so they are designed that if the lens width fits the other  measurements should be appropriate too. This is not always the case but it gives you a starting point.

top fit

For reference, infants and small children may only grow one or two  millimeters in lens width over a year and it can be less for older children.  Once you find a frame that fits in lens width take a note of that measurement and find other frames that are the same size with a 1mm difference in either direction.  It is important to understand that lens width translates differently in different frame mediums particularly  for flexible frames like Miraflexand chunkier plastic frames.

The bridge is the portion of the frame that spans between the lenses over the nose.  Frames are designed to be proportioned but faces vary and so the shape of the lens impacts the bridge width. More rectangular frames tend to have a narrower bridge to accommodate for the width of the lens.  This means that children with wider nose bridges and infants may not be able to get a good fit with a rectangle.  Nose pads should fit snugly but comfortably against the nose with no pinching or gaps. Frames with nose pads offer some adjustability, but solid plastic or flexible frames do not so they should fit the nose perfectly.

Last you want to look at the temples. The length of the temple is also important. If the temples extend too far past the ear it is a good indicator that the frames are too large.  Your child should be able to sit and lie back without the earpiece bumping the surface and shifting the frames. Bent ear pieces should not extend past the bottom of the ear.

side fit

FUNCTION

That brings us to function.  There are a variety of frame types but the three basic types are wire, flexible, and plastic. Fit is a huge factor in function because glasses that fit well function well. But there are other considerations.  If you have a tiny squishy baby (been  there) or an active young child that needs glasses, you will likely want something flexible  and as close to indestructible as you can get, like Miraflex or Solo Bambini.  An older child active in sports may need a second pair of glasses that are sports goggles like  Rec­Specs. A child who requires an exact bifocal line may do much better wearing a wire frame with nose pads because it gives you the best adjustability.

FASHION

Last on my list is fashion. Glasses that fit and function well for your child are the most  important thing. That doesn’t mean they won’t be adorable. They will!  And glasses that fit well will look much better on your child than a pair that does not fit.  There are not nearly as many frame choices for children as there are for adults. Depending on your child’s size, your geographical location, and your budget the selection may be even  more restricted. This can make finding great frames a challenge but not impossible.  In fact there is an increasing number of online retailers that offer try­on kits for home.  Having concerns about your child’s appearance is expected. Wearing glasses will change their appearance, in my humble opinion they will be even more adorable.  Be sure not to get caught up in the fashion of the frames if it is to the detriment of fit and  function.  You will have many more opportunities to shop for frames and as your child gets older the selection will expand.

As a fellow parent of children in glasses and consumer I implore you to insist on good service from your optical shop. You are paying for a product and service. They have a professional responsibility to provide your child with functional frames that fit.  If you have been misguided and encouraged to buy ill-fitted frames please insist on accountability from the shop and a replacement at their cost.   Shopping for frames is challenging whether it is your first or 50th time but it does get  easier.

Below you will find a collection of photos generously provided by members of the Little Four Eye Facebook group. These are all actual frames that were dispensed by various optical shops with comments as to how well they fit.

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Melony Dever lives in Maryland with her husband and their five bespectacled children.

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Crowdfunding projects: a children’s book and computer game

Ever since my book project was funded on Kickstarter (almost exactly a year ago now), I try to keep an eye out (pun intended) for other crowdfunded projects that would be of interest to our community. There are two projects that are currently running that I wanted to let you all know about:

The Best Day Ever — a book about friendship and glasses by Anna Rafailov on Kickstarter

BestDayEver

“The Best Day Ever” is a children’s book about two good friends, a little cyclops named Ben, and his snail buddy, Sid.  When Ben starts having strange things happen, his friend Sid decides to do some detective work to figure it out, and realizes his friend needs glasses.  Author and illustrator, Anna Rafailov, “Annie,” got the idea for the book when her son needed glasses and she found that herself drawing a story for him to explain what was going on.  The book focuses on friendship between two characters that are very different, showing that a true friends don’t care how do you look, as long as you have great time together and help each other when in trouble.  The illustrations for the book are amazing!  Anna’s Kickstarter campaign for her book ends on Friday, Dec. 19.


 

GeoBee – Tablet-based game designed to improve visual and motor skills on Indiegogo

geobee

GeoBee is a game designed by Dr. Charles Boulet, BSc, BEd, OD, a developmental optometrist, author, and educator.  The game is based on principles of vision science and rehabilitation to reinforce spatial awareness, motor targeting, visual memory, letter awareness, response time, and mental focus.  The game is scheduled to release in February, and backers of the project  can receive substantial discounts to the annual subscription costs.  The Indiegogo campaign for GeoBee ends on February 1, 2015.


 

Couple of links for learning about vision development

  • Current understanding of what infants see.  An article written by Lea Hyvarinen and others that reviews the current literature to give a great overview of how infants see and how vision develops in the first year of life.   Lea Hyvarinen is known, among other things, for developing the Lea symbols (circle, heart, square, house) used to test visual acuity in young children.   The article is open access, which means it is freely available.
  • Light, Spike, and Sight: the Neuroscience of Vision.  This is an online edX course that runs for 4 weeks, starting November 18, 2014.  “In this course, we take you from the physics of focusing light onto the retina, to the processing of colors, form, and motion, and finally to the interpretation of visual information in the cortex.” The course can be audited for free.  I’ve already registered, and if you’re planning to take the class, please let me know.

World Sight Day 2014: No More Avoidable Blindness

Today is World Sight Day 2014.

 

avoidable blindness

World Sight Day is a day of global awareness of vision issues, the call to action for this year is one that’s near to my heart: No More Avoidable Blindness.

I’ve written before about how important it is for children to have their vision checked, and if they have an issue, to have it treated.  Untreated vision issues in children can lead to a lifetime of vision difficulties and even blindness.  It can affect their academics and their achievement and their quality of life.

I know I’ve shared this infographic before (which has since gotten a face-lift for the Great Glasses Play Day), but I’m sharing it again with some of my thoughts, because it is so relevant to preventing avoidable blindness.

uncorrected refractive

There’s a lot of reasons for this, but they’re all equally upsetting to me:

  • The vision problems aren’t caught.  Either because the child’s vision hasn’t been checked, or because a vision problem was missed during a screening.
  • Even when a vision problem is found, a lot of parents don’t take their child for a follow up appointment with an eye care provider, either because they cannot do so financially, they don’t understand the importance, or they don’t believe their child needs glasses.
  • Even when a child is given glasses, many are not wearing them a year later, usually because the glasses have been lost or broken.

I know that I can’t solve all these problems, and thankfully, there are a lot of great groups out there already that are working on these issues.  But I do think that we as parents here in the amazing Little Four Eyes community are in a unique position to help.

We’re doing some things already:

  • The community here at Little Four Eyes has helped many parents feel better about their child needing glasses, and I hope has inspired at least a few to go ahead and follow up with an eye appointment and getting glasses if they’re needed.
  • The annual Great Glasses Play Day each year in May is not just a day to get together to celebrate our kids in glasses, but it’s also a chance to raise awareness of just how important it is to catch and treat vision issues early.

But I know there is more that we can do.  I’d love to connect other parents who are interested in spreading awareness with childrens’ librarians and early childhood educators to help get the word out to parents before they take their child to a screening or exam.  And I know a lot of you probably have great ideas and connections, and I’d love to hear about them!

More reading:


Glasses Board Book giveaway!!!

2Some glasses are red,

Some glasses are blue,

I think your glasses look great on you!

- excerpt from Glasses, a board book

I’m thrilled that Peeps Eyewear and Eye Power Kids Wear are celebrating the recent release of Glasses with a huge rainbow-themed giveaway!

 Why rainbows, you ask?

1.  The Glasses board book features kids wearing glasses in tons of different shapes and sizes and every color of the rainbow! Here at Peeps, we just love the idea that glasses can help a child express his or her personal style.

glasses board book

2.  Rainbows symbolize hope and acceptance. For many young children, glasses are a hard adjustment; they’re a new (and sometimes uncomfortable) thing to wear on your face and many times children don’t know anyone else their age who wears them.  “Glasses” shows kids that glasses can be a normal part of childhood, and how glasses can be fun.  We think that the moment a child understands that and feels better is like a rainbow after the storm.

princess annie with rainbow

3.  Rainbows are just plain fun! They’re bright and colorful, and it’s so exciting when you get to see one in the sky. Even Princess Annie loves rainbows!

Peeps Eyewear is partnering with Little Four Eyes and our friends at Eye Power Kids Wear to bring you this great big Glasses giveaway! The winner will receive:

1 copy of Glasses to keep

IMG_0284

1 copy of Glasses to donate to your favorite library, preschool or optical shop

glasses a board book

A pair of frames from the Peeps Eyewear Online Store: choose from genuine Miraflex frames in any color of the rainbow OR our Princess Peeps frames

miraflex blue

princess peeps frames

A t-shirt of your choice from Eye Power Kids Wear

eye power kids wear tees

How to enter:  Use this Rafflecopter to enter.  Leave a message in the comment section with these two pieces of information: your favorite color, and the name of the library, preschool, optical shop or organization where you’d like us to donate the book.

Extra credit (just for fun): Share the giveaway on FB, Twitter or Pinterest and tag the library, preschool or optical shop so that they know you’re trying to win a copy for them! We can spread the word that glasses are great, and brighten everyone’s day with pictures of the smiling kids from the book.

glasses board book kids

Thanks for spreading the word about the wonderful board book, Glasses!

peeps eyewear rainbow

badge2

Eye-Power-Kids-Wear-logo-2


Milestones to celebrate when you have a child in glasses

Recently, Zoe had an eye appointment and we heard something we’d never heard before: “come back in a year.”  A year?!?  Zoe has never in her life gone a full year without an eye appointment (her first was at 9 months old).  It’s thrilling and a bit scary all at the same time.  Her eye doctor explained that now that she was nearly 8, many of her visual pathways had matured, so the chances of developing amblyopia again are very, very small.  Certainly we will bring her in if she’s having trouble seeing, but otherwise, we’ve graduated to yearly eye exams!

It got me thinking of other milestones that you might get to celebrate if you have a young child in glasses, patches, or contacts (not all kids will have all the same milestones, and they won’t all happen in the same order).

Glasses milestones:

  • glassesThe first day she goes the whole day without taking her glasses off
  • The first day he asks for his glasses without prompting
  • The first year a pair of frames make it without being broken
  • The first year you go without a change in prescription
  • That appointment when the doctor says you don’t have to come back for 6 months
  • That appointment when the doctor says you don’t have to come back for a year

There’s patching ones, too:

  • patchingFirst day she goes patches for the whole time without complaining
  • First week of patching (you all survived!)
  • That appointment when the doctor says you can start weaning off the patching
  • That appointment when the doctor says you can stop patching

There’s some eye test ones

  • examFirst appointment when she was able to use an acuity chart (even if it was with symbols)
  • First appointment when he was able to read the chart with letters
  • First appointment when she got to do the “which is better, 1 or 2?”
  • First appointment when she could get her eye pressure read without doing an EUA

And some for contacts

  • contactsFirst day you got the contacts in without tears
  • First day you got the contacts out without tears
  • First day she put her contacts in by herself

What other milestones have you hit with your child?  And what milestones are you looking forward to?


Frequently asked question: what does my child see? A few vision simulators with caveats

There’s a cliche of “looking through your eyes” as a way of trying to see the world as someone else might. It’s usually not meant literally, of course, but  it reflects our desire to understand how others see things. That’s certainly true when you learn that your child has a vision problem.  It’s very common to wonder how your child had been seeing.

what do you see4

Very young children don’t have the words to tell us what they want for dinner, let alone how they see.  Even older, more verbal kids have difficulty explaining how things look. It wasn’t until Zoe was 4 that she started telling me that things were fuzzy without her glasses. But the first time I really understood how she saw was after a trip to the science museum where she visited a human development exhibit.  They had glasses you could put on that approximated how babies’ vision develops in their first few months. “Mom, babies see really blurry they’re first month. Then at 2 months, they see the way I see without my glasses. By a year, they see how I see with glasses.”  Finally, I could put on glasses and see the world the way Zoe does with glasses.

If you can’t make it to a human development exhibit, there are quite a few online vision simulators that claim to let you see how another person sees, most are based on a person’s glasses prescription.  Of course, there are a lot of problems with even the best of these.  In fact:

A glasses prescription will not tell you exactly how a person sees

A glasses prescription will only tell you what shape the lenses on a pair of glasses or contacts should be in order to have the best possible corrected vision.  This is based on how much the shape of the eye differs from what it should be to see clearly (something called the refractive error).  Some (not all) of the reasons why someone may see differently than their glasses prescription implies include:

  • Hyperopic children can often compensate for much of their hyperopia, allowing them to see relatively clearly.  This does cause eye strain and can pull the eyes out of alignment, which is why glasses are still important.
  • Amblyopia is when a person does not see clearly even when glasses or contacts are correcting for the full refractive error.  Generally this is due to the brain suppressing the vision from one or both eyes.  It can be caused by the eyes not lining up, an eye having an injury, or one eye having a much stronger refractive error than the other.
  • There may be other problems in the visual system (either in the eye structures, the optic nerve, or the brain) that is causing vision problems.

One very simplified way of looking at it is imagining the visual system as a camera.  The lens of the camera may not be in focus, that’s the part that glasses can fix that.  But there are a lot of other components of the camera that may not be functioning correctly, and any one of them can lead to unclear vision.

Visual Acuity

The measurement that best describes how clearly a person sees is their visual acuity.  It is usually expressed as two numbers, like 20/20 or 6/6.  The first number tells you the distance at which the measurement was taken (20 or 10 is in feet, 6 or 3 is in meters).  The second number tells you how far away a person with good vision could be to see what you see clearly.

For example, the visual acuity of my left eye without glasses is around 20/200.  That means that what I see clearly at 20 feet away, a person with good vision would see clearly at 200 feet away.  (I do not see terribly well in that eye).  There’s a conversion chart here that converts between metric and US measurements as well as giving reading performance for those acuities.

If you’d like to see what a specific visual acuity looks like, there are a couple of options:

Wolfram Alpha will show you a simulation of any acuity you type in.  Simply type in the visual acuity with the word “vision”: in this case “20/200 vision” (if you don’t include the word “vision” it’ll just calculate the fraction for you).

20-200
Wolfram Alpha’s simulation of 20/200 visual acuity. I typed “20/200 vision” in the search box to get this.

Fork in the Road Low Vision Simulators are vision simulators that you can purchase and wear to see the effects of different eye diseases.  Their cataract simulators demonstrate reduced visual acuity.  On their website, you can see examples of the blur simulation for 20/80 (6/24), 20/200 (6/60), 20/400 (6/120), and 20/800 (6/240).  Scroll through the page to see the different acuities.

 Vision Simulators based on Prescription

As I mentioned, vision simulators based on a glasses prescription are flawed at best.   Even the very good ones will only show you an approximation of how someone with no other vision issues would see with that prescription.  That said, the simulators can give you a feel for how strong a prescription is and how your child might be seeing without glasses.

  • Eyeland Web Tools – there are different simulators for different refractive errors.  Many children have a spherical (hyperopia or myopia) component as well as an astigmatism component.  I like that these allow you to see how those different components affect vision.
  • Sehschärfen Simulator – this site is in German, but is still pretty straight forward to use.  One of the features is that it changes the simulation based on a person’s age, so that the effects of hyperopia (farsightedness / longsightedness) are reduced for young children.  This means if your child has a + prescription, you may think from this simulator that your child shouldn’t need glasses.  This simulator will not show you how much eye strain a child will have due to hyperopia.
    1. Enter your child’s age in the “Alter” box
    2. Enter the spherical and cylinder amounts
    3. Click “Berechnen”
    4. The top image is the simulated vision, the bottom image is what would be considered “normal” vision.

Other visual simulations of eye diseases

  • Fork in the Road sells vision simulators for many eye diseases resulting in low vision.  This includes cataracts (linked above), glaucoma, and more.
  • Inclusive Design Kit from the University of Cambridge also has a simulator for many vision problems.
  • Causes of Color includes a vision simulator for various types of color blindness and cataracts.

heartbreaking photo of glasses meet garbage disposal

 

10553586_680402716056_8594045010157169147_n
photo credit Gina Glorioso Rendall

Sometimes you see a photo, and read the explanation and your heart just sinks:

“Totally heartbroken – my one-year-old dropped his glasses down the sink and they went through the garbage disposal.”

Posted to the Little Four Eyes facebook group, shared here with permission.


My book is published

I’ve posted a bit about the children’s book about glasses that I’ve been working on – it’s one that I held a Kickstarter project to raise the funding for.  Well I’m thrilled to say that the book has been published and is now available for purchase.  The whole experience has been fascinating, eye opening, way outside my comfort zone, but in the end, a really good experience. The project was largely inspired by the comments I’d gotten on the photo gallery page.  I had figured the photo gallery would be great for parents to see the range of glasses available for kids, but I hadn’t expected that parents would show their kids the gallery, and that kids would feel better about their glasses after seeing other kids like them in glasses.  I also remember how much Zoe loved looking at books with pictures of kids, and I wanted her to see kids who wore glasses just like she did.  And I was also a bit sick of books that talked about kids who hated glasses or who were teased about their glasses.  Those are definitely good stories to have, but they didn’t reflect Zoe’s experiences at all.

After waiting for 5 years for someone else to write a book that featured photos of kids in glasses, I finally decided that I was going to have to do it.  And luckily, I knew that my friend Kristin from Peeps Eyewear was just as interested as I was in helping kids in glasses, and since she had published a children’s book, she knew a lot more about the process and had the contacts to actually make it work.  She agreed to be my publisher, for which I am so very thankful. I’m thankful, too, for so many of you who backed the Kickstarter or shared the project or gave me support (I wrote a bit about Kickstarter here and here).  I was able to get funding to cover most of the up front costs (photo shoot, graphic design, printing, etc). We held the photo shoot for the book in January.  The daycare center that my children attend was gracious enough to let us use their classroom (with fun colorful toys, and huge windows to let in the sunshine) for the photo shoot.

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Our photographer, Heide, was simply amazing.  She worked hard and had a fantastic rapport with the kids.  And the kids were all amazing, too!  It was honestly a lot of fun –  just watching these kids play and have fun, and watching Heide work her magic to get some amazing shots, and meeting the parents and hearing all about their stories. Then came more work – choosing photos, working with the graphic designer, trying to get the print run to be true to color, getting an ISBN for the book… all sorts of things that I had never, ever dealt with before, so again, I’m thankful for Kristin’s help.

It took longer than anyone of us had expected, especially since we had to not only produce the book, but also the other rewards for the Kickstarter backers.  But now I can hold all that hard work in my hands!

that's my hand...holding my book!
that’s my hand…holding my book!

I have to say one more huge thank you to all of you out there for your support and inspiration for this book.  I don’t know how I can thank you all enough.