If your child has been prescribed glasses, he or she will spend most of his/her waking hours wearing glasses. Having a pair of quality glasses will hold up better and be more comfortable long-term. The frame should be adjusted regularly for optimal alignment on your child's growing face.
Some important factors to consider are:
Every child has a unique face; frames should thus be chosen to fit appropriately. Children should not be given adult frames to grow into. Frames that are too small may cause discomfort and restrict the field of view. The child’s eyes should be in the centre of each lens or displaced slightly inwards towards the nose.
With well-adjusted nose pads, the glasses should not rest on the cheeks or touch the eye lashes. Spectacle frames with incorporated nose pads (fixed non-adjustable) tend not to fit certain Asian faces well. Such frames often slide down the nose, or sit too close to the face, touching the eye lashes and fogging up easily on humid hot days.
It is important that the side temples (left and right limbs of the glasses) are not too short or long. Glasses with excessively long temples tend to slide down the child’s face. Glasses with short temples may not hook well to the ears and may fall off easily. Some child frames come with specially designed temple tips (called “cable temples”). Cable temples wrap around the ears, preventing the frame from slipping off the face. It is important that the cable must not be too tight or the temple length too short.
Spectacle frames are commonly made of metal, plastic and sometimes, a rubbery synthetic material. It is important to find out the type of material used for the frame as areas which come into contact with the child’s skin may cause allergies, especially if the child has sensitive skin or skin that is prone to allergies.
Plastic frames are generally more durable, less likely to be bent or broken, lighter in weight and less likely to cause skin allergies.
For babies and toddlers who often lie down, a softer frame material with a strap attached to the temples are recommended.
Design & colour
It is important to choose a pair of glasses that the child likes so as to encourage them to wear it. Glasses in your child’s favourite colour or with cartoon characters imprinted sometimes work wonders for compliance! Always choose full frames over rimless or half frames for children as they are sturdier.
Some active children wear headbands / straps or ear hooks to help keep the spectacles in place.
Type of prescription
Avoid large frames for children with high amounts of short- or long-sightedness as the lenses will be too thick and may induce peripheral visual distortions.
Common queries from parents:
Always use plastic lenses for children. Impact resistance lenses (i.e. polycarbonate) can be considered for active children. Lenses should have built in U.V. protection to block harmful sun rays.
Always get your child to wear the glasses as recommended by the ophthalmologist. It depends on the underlying reason why the child is prescribed glasses. Generally if it is a simple case of myopia (short-sightedness), wearing duration depends on the severity of myopia. If the myopia is only 50-75 degrees, distance vision is hardly affected; therefore spectacles are usually not required all the time. However, if the myopia increases to 150-200 degrees, it is likely that the blurred distance vision at this stage would affect a child’s performance in school and daily activities, therefore glasses are usually recommended for full time wear. If the myopia is severe enough to cause amblyopia (lazy eye) or glasses is part of the treatment for amblyopia, then full time wear is necessary.
Myopic children often enjoy their spectacles immediately. However, hyperopic (long-sighted) and astigmatic children may take several weeks to adjust to wearing spectacles. The truth is, most young children who really need spectacles will wear them happily without a problem because the glasses do make a difference to their vision.
Initially, some children may demonstrate resistance but it is necessary for parents to demonstrate a positive attitude and to allow their children to be distracted by their favourite activity. Finally, the spectacle frame should fit well and the lenses prescribed accurately so that they are comfortable and provide clear vision. If uncomfortable or wrongly prescribed, the child may be reluctant to wear spectacles.
Children have the ability to see well at near and therefore rarely need bifocals. Occasionally, children who have crossed eyes may need to use bifocals to help control the eye mis-alignment. Children on atropine 1% eye drop treatment for myopia, or who have had cataract surgery with artificial lens implants usually need bifocals or progressive lenses.
No, this has not been proven. However, if a child does not wear the glasses prescribed, normal visual development can be adversely affected.