When a doctor prescribes glasses for your child for near-sightedness, far-sightedness or amblyopia, he is not likely to tell you how you go about choosing frames. An optician, with his knowledge of the products available in the market, is at a better position to advice you on this. Adults can pay more attention to style and fashion when it comes to eyewear and accessories, as they can instantly judge what is comfortable for them. But it is not that simple in case of children. Children are unable to tell you what fits well and is comfortable; you have to make an intelligent choice for them.
Here are some guidelines for parents to choose the right eyeglasses for their children:
Lenses come in three types - glass, plastic and polycarbonate.
Ideally, glass is the perfect material for lens as it is crystal clear and does not scratch, but it obviously ranks the lowest on the safety scale.
Plastic lens, then, is the second choice. These are also light compared to glass and come with a scratch-resistant coating. But they are priced slightly higher than glass lenses.
The third option is that of polycarbonate lenses which are made of the impact-resistant material used in helmet visors and bullet-proof panes. Therefore, they do not break and splinter, and are very safe. They come with scratch-proof coating and an in-built protection against harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Of all the lenses, these ones are more expensive, but that's a little price to pay for your child's safety.
When it comes to frames, the choice is more difficult, as there are frames and frames, depending on the company that manufactures it.
Frames are available in all shapes: rectangular - broad or elongated, ovals and rounds. Doctors recommend glasses with big lenses that cover the eyes completely right up to the eyebrows, as against elongated rectangular lenses. This is to ensure that the centre of the lens coincides with the centre of the eye.
Plastic or metal
Again, as far as the materials go, there are two types - plastic and metal. Plastic frames have the advantage of being light-weight and durable, but today frames made of metal alloys are giving plastic frames a severe competition. They too are light-weight and long-lasting. Metal frames have nose pads which are useful in case of children, because the bridge of their noses is not developed or almost non-existent. Frames made of the metal alloy, titanium, are also hypoallergenic, in that they produce hardly any allergic reaction.
But this is just a matter of choice; a plastic frame is as good as the metal one.
Eyeglasses for children come with different styles to keep them rooted on to the nose. One such style is the wraparound, where the ear pieces end curled, hugging the back of the ear. Also, it is important to see that the frame fits perfectly, that it is not too tight at the temples pinching the ears, and not too lose to slide down the nose.
Children can't be expected to treat their eyeglasses delicately; therefore frames for them have to be tough to withstand rough usage. The feature of spring hinges is a must for children who may be wont to hold glasses by one stem or given to swinging it in play. Spring hinges allow for bending of the stems in both the directions at the temples. Thus, they can be removed and put on several times with little damage to the frame.
Things to remember
- Do not compromise on the price of the eyeglasses; safety is more important.
- Scratch-resistant coated lenses are not foolproof. They do scratch, especially if children put them on a hard surface such as a school desktop, with the lens-side down. If scratch marks appear, change the lens immediately. Wearing scratched lenses can impair the child's vision further.
- Always keep an extra pair of prescription lens eyeglasses as back-up. When the main pair breaks or gets lost, the back up can replace it till another pair is made to order. This is particularly important for children who have to wear prescription glasses all day long.
- Harry Potter and Barbie eyeglasses may be the in thing, but they may not suit everyone. Evaluate frames on an individual basis, and go for the ones with the most comfortable fit.
- Get the lens cross-checked from the eye doctor after it is made.