1. Lens Thickness

The eyeglass prescription is always the primary consideration in choosing glasses. Before you start looking for the frames, consult with the optician about lens considerations.

If the prescription calls for strong lenses that are likely to be thick, it is important to keep the frames as small as possible to reduce the final lens thickness. Also, smaller lenses tend to have fewer higher-order aberrations near the edge of the lens than large lenses of the same material and prescription, so there is less risk of blurred or distorted peripheral vision.

  1. Fashion Forward

Whether they are full- or part-time eyeglass wearers, most kids get at least a little teasing about their specs, especially the first time they wear them. So it’s very important that they avoid frames that make them look “uncool.” You also should steer your child away from frames that clearly are objectionable, too expensive or inappropriate.

Just keep in mind that the real object is to get your child to wear the glasses. Extra enticement may be found in ultra cool features like photochromic lenses with tints that darken outdoors, which may help inspire any child to want to wear glasses.

  1. Plastic or Metal?

Children’s frames are made of either plastic or metal and many have styles that intentionally mimic unisex eyeglass frames designed for adults. Kids often are attracted to these styles because they look more grown-up. It’s not unusual for kids to ask for glasses that look just like Mom’s or Dad’s.

In the past, plastic frames were a better choice for children because they were considered more durable, less likely to be bent or broken, lighter in weight and less expensive. But now, manufacturers are making metal frames that incorporate these features as well. Metal composition varies, so ask the optician which one is best for your child, based on experience with different alloys.

Ask for hypoallergenic materials if your child has shown sensitivity to certain substances. For example, some people are allergic to frame alloys that contain nickel.

  1. Proper Bridge Fit

One of the toughest parts about choosing suitable frames for young children is that their noses are not fully developed, so they don’t have a bridge to prevent plastic frames from sliding down. Metal frames, however, usually are made with adjustable nose pads, so they fit everyone’s bridge.

Most manufacturers recognize this difficulty with plastic frames and make their bridges to fit small noses.

Each frame must be evaluated individually to make sure it fits the bridge. If any gaps exist between the bridge of the frame and the bridge of the nose, the weight of the lenses will cause the glasses to slide, no matter how well the frame seems to fit before the lenses are made.

It’s important that the glasses stay in place; otherwise kids tend to look over the top of the lenses instead of pushing their glasses back up where they belong. An optician usually is the best judge of whether a frame fits properly.

  1. The Right Temple Style

Temples that wrap all the way around the back of the ear help keep glasses from sliding down or dropping off a child’s face completely. Another option is a strap that goes around the head.

Eyeglasses with cable temples and/or straps are not a good choice for part-time wearers, however, because they are a bit more awkward to put on and take off. For glasses that go on and off frequently, it is better to have regular, or “skull,” temples that go straight back and then curve gently around the back of the ear.

  1. Lens Material

Once you and your child agree on frames that you both like, the next consideration is the lenses.

Children’s lenses should be made of polycarbonate or Trivex. These materials are significantly more impact-resistant than other lens materials for added safety. Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses also are significantly lighter than regular plastic lenses, which makes the eyewear more comfortable — especially for strong prescriptions.

Polycarbonate and Trivex have built-in protection against potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, and the lenses are scratch-resistant coated by the manufacturer or fabrication lab.

  1. Sports Eyewear

Polycarbonate is such a safe lens material that you may be tempted to let your child play sports in his regular glasses.

Here’s the drawback: Although polycarbonate is the lens material used for sports eyewear, regular eyeglass frames do not provide enough protection from large objects such as balls and flying elbows. So if your kid is involved in sports, a proper sports goggle with polycarbonate lenses will provide the best protection against eye injury.

To provide optimum protection, sports goggles must be fitted properly — so consult with an eye care professional before making a purchase. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, a sports goggle should have a larger vertical eye opening, rather than a smaller one. If an impact should occur and the goggles are pushed toward the face, a large eye opening keeps the impact points far above and below the eyes. With a small opening, however, the goggle hits right at the edge of the eye socket, which can damage the globe of the eye.

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