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


Download our new printable guide to finding glasses that fit your child, based on the information in this post, so you can print it and take it with you when you shop for glasses!

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 yours 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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20 responses to “Guest post – A parents’ guide to choosing glasses that fit your child

  1. Excellent article. It could only be made better by possibly showing some pictures of common mistakes of ill-fitting glasses… or is there a secondary article which already addresses this?

    Like

  2. Thank you SO much for this! I just found out that our 20-month-old may need glasses. This guide made me feel much more at ease about the selecting process.

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  3. Pingback: when you’ve just found out your young child needs glasses | Little Four Eyes·

  4. You are so right. Before finding your site, I got glasses for my 5 years old, she picked a metal frame from Bench, they looked a little big to me, but the optician said “do not worry we can adjust it”, they were always sliding down her nose and a lot, and I had to go twice for adjustments, which sometimes made the back of her ears hurt. After reading your site, I found out they were 47-15-30, I went back and made her try smaller frames, I noticed a 45-15-25 or 45-14-25 fitted her better, she picked another metal frame (from disney with princess Aurora on the side), this time 45-14-25, it is amazing those milimiters of difference actually made a difference.. the fit perfectly. Thank you for spending this time and sharing your knowledge of frame fitting, none of the opticians mentioned the sizes to me. You are an angel.

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  5. My youngest is having a lot of problems when it comes to seeing lately so I am thinking about taking her into the Optometrist here in Buffalo, New York. I need a new pair of glasses myself, so maybe we will make a day out of it! She loves pink and she is constantly taking my glasses so I know she will love a pair of her own. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. My 1 year old got glasses a few months ago and after reading this article I realized they are too big for him and may be the issue with him taking them off ALL the time
    What do I do now? Take them to a different eye glasses store and have them help us find a better pair to fit him?
    Can I return the current ones or just hold onto them for the future?
    Thanks

    Like

    • Hi Amanda,
      Argh! I’m always so frustrated to hear when parents are sold glasses that don’t fit their child.I would go back to the first store and ask if they will replace them with a more appropriately-sized pair. If they won’t, or if you don’t trust the shop to do that, then I would get a new pair. You could keep the poorly-fitting pair and try to use them as a backup if need be (though if he’s not wearing them now, not sure he’ll wear them as a back up, but he might once he’s more used to glasses). In any case, he will grow and get bigger, so at some point, he’ll fit into the frames, and you could use them then.

      Best of luck!

      Like

  7. I love the little boys glasses brown glasses in this article (showing the correct fit). Anyone know what kind they are?

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  8. Thanks for putting together such great advice. I learned my 3-year old son needs glasses this morning and resisted the urge to go straight to the store. This has made me feel more educated heading into this process. Thanks!

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  9. Thanks. after reading your post I am wondering if it is more useful for me helping my kids pick out their prescription glasses, or me. I didn’t know half of the things you mentioned about choosing glasses. Especially not checking to make sure my, or my kids, glasses frames don’t bow out as they go toward my ears. I think most of my previous pairs of frames have done that.

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  10. Pingback: When the glasses don’t fit: advice on finding glasses that fit and what to do if they don’t | Little Four Eyes·

  11. Pingback: Choosing glasses for your child: a printable guide | Little Four Eyes·

  12. Thanks for this article. It was really a good help for me. I was having a hard time in buying the right eyeglass for my daughter. I was very happy and thankful about this article. For parents out there who is still undecided in buying eyeglasses for your children, this is a great article to read and I found also another article which is my reference in choosing the right eyeglasses for my daughter. http://www.sunniesworld.com/posts/gsvDvRr7h55sdhoBA

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  13. Thank you for this. I wish I had seen it before we got My 6 month old glasses. His frames don’t fit right, they’re either slightly too ooose and hang done his little nose or tight enough and squishing his eyelid. Mostly he chews on them now at 10 months. We have Kaiser and they had a whopping 2 choices. I’m debating going external and paying out of pocket just to get him what he needs.

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  14. Pingback: Your Child's First Glasses: Choosing a Pair They Will Love·

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