Not all frames are created equal. A child’s eyewear needs, aside from sheer size, are vastly different and more demanding than that of an adult. Below are some key points on why children’s eyewear is so unique and why it should be treated as such - we’ll touch on developmental needs as well as engineering, manufacturing, and design differences. This overview will no doubt come in handy when talking to parents, especially as they evaluate the best, high-end eyewear options.
Is your practice addressing the unique challenges for children’s eye care and educating parents as to why high-quality frames are key?
A child’s eyesight is more fragile than that of an adult and needs to be protected from the time the child is born. Children grow at an exponential rate and go through a lot of developmental changes while experiencing unique environmental challenges every day. The importance of children’s eyewear cannot be overstated because it is one of the most important choices that ultimately protects their eyesight, prevents future damage, and improves learning and performance in school.
Do you speak to parents' concerns regarding vision issues for their child?
Children with poor eyesight often have difficulties in school. They may not be able to see the board, or they may not be able to read as well as their peers. Children may also have difficulty catching a ball or may seem clumsier than others. Poor eyesight can also lead to headaches and fatigue over time, which can make it difficult for a child to focus on their work and complete tasks. This, of course, can affect grades and the child’s ability to learn, leaving a major impact on the child’s future and creating a major cause for concern amongst parents. Often, this can be caused by improper eyecare, or worse, improperly fitting glasses.
Having high-quality glasses that are designed specifically for children’s unique proportions and that are properly fit and adjusted to their unique face can certainly make a big difference in their performance. By wearing frames that are comfortable, properly fit, and more likely to stay on their face, there is a lower likelihood that they will experience negative symptoms. Conveying the importance of eyewear in these terms can help parents understand why a better frame, designed to address these issues, matters and why the investment into the best engineered frames is a guaranteed responsible choice.
Do you prioritize early intervention to avoid problems further down the road?
A child's eyesight is not fully developed until they are about eight years old. Therefore, it is important to have a routine eye check-up every year. Parents often rely on the advice of the practitioner, so don’t be shy in reminding parents of a child’s appointment cadence and when they should come in again. Setup automated reminders or email blasts, or have the parents set a follow up appointment before they leave your practice as a “best practice” for children’s health. Doing so will ensure they already have the time booked and they are aware of the importance of annual checkups.
Do the children’s frames you carry account for the differences in facial shape between children and adults?
A child's face is completely different from an adult's face because a child’s face is not fully developed and is more complex in structure. This means there are significant differences in the needs of eyewear engineering, materials, and design. Obviously, a child’s head size is smaller than that of an adult, but there are also proportional differences. An adult’s face has more depth and the distance between their eyes is narrower. The bridge of a child’s nose is also less developed and higher and narrower than an adult’s. This means that glasses designed for adults will not fit a child properly, even if they are shrunken in size. All these proportional differences mean that children’s eyewear can’t simply be “resized” and designed to be more “fun” and colorful, the actual engineering, materials, and design requires immense attention to detail by skilled professionals to ensure the frame is suitable for a child.
Do you prioritize correction and protection for children’s vision health?
There are two main types of eyewear: corrective and protective. Corrective eyewear is used to correct a vision problem, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Protective eyewear is used to protect the eyes from injury or infection, such as from dirt or dust in an outdoor environment or, most commonly, from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. One of the most important aspects of children's eyewear is that it protects the eyes from harmful UV rays and other damaging factors that may lead to vision problems. Many parents may not think of it, but children spend a lot of time outdoors, so it is best to educate and discuss with the parents what a high-quality pair of sunglasses should do for their child.
Learn The Difference High-End Eyewear Can Make in a Child’s Experience
As practitioners, parents look to us to help them understand what their child needs and what is best for them in terms of vision health. Just as important as educating parents on why children’s frames are necessary and how often they need to be seen for checkups, it’s important that they understand that the eyewear they select is an investment that pays dividends in the form of their physical safety, future success in school, and overall eye health.
Not all frames are created equal…
We’ve found that one of the most innovative children’s eyewear collections is LOOKKINO by LOOK. LOOK approaches children’s eyewear responsibly and through innovation. LOOK designs frames specifically made for a child’s facial dimensions that are more adjustable/customizable and that are created with lighter, softer, safer, more flexible materials. This is contrary to many other brands that simply “shrink” adult frame designs, resulting in proportions that don't actually satisfy the needs of a child. On the other hand, LOOK designs and tests their LOOKKINO collection on actual children to ensure fit and proper balance is achieved.
Higher quality glasses designed specifically for children are the only responsible choice to protect eyesight that is still developing. To truly address the unique needs of children in your optical practice you should directly speak to the parent’s concerns in a way that they can understand, translating or “bridging” the technical aspects of frames to real life benefits. Here are some top points to keep in mind:
Young children sometimes have a hard time adjusting to wearing glasses
For some young children, wearing glasses can be a difficult adjustment. Some kids feel self-conscious and think that their classmates will make fun of them. They may also have a hard time keeping their glasses clean, or, if they are very young, even keeping them on their face. There are a few things to do to help their children adjust to wearing glasses. First and foremost, offer glasses that are stylish and fun. Make the process of selecting frames fun for children in your practice. Second, choose glasses that are specifically designed to fit children and thus will be immediately more comfortable on their face.
It can be challenging for young children to treat their glasses carefully, so it is important for your practice to offer highly durable frames and lenses that are built for play, are incredibly lightweight and comfortable, and are truly custom fit. Investing in quality glasses upfront could save the time and money of having to replace a low-quality alternative. Lastly, you can also help the child learn how to take care of their glasses. Demonstrate how to clean them and how to put them on and take them off, and how to store them properly.
What to offer in your practice: Eyewear that is safe, fun, and fitting for children
The top issues unique to children’s eyewear include characteristics that are less common amongst adults including rough-housing, discomfort, staying on, and curiosity.
1. What to look for in “play-safe” glasses for children who love rough-housing
Children often play rough with their glasses. They might take them off and put them back on upside down, bend them flat and twist them just to see what happens. You need a frame that is built with this in mind. This is one of the reasons why we love LOOKKINO - all frames are engineered for an active lifestyle. Each frame is perfectly balanced, ensuring they stay put, and are constructed without any sharp nose pad arms, hinges or screws that may scratch a child’s face. For the “twist and flatten” move children love to try, the LOOKKINO RubberEVO frames are designed with rubber casing around a metal core, allowing them to stretch far enough to withstand even the roughest child. Additionally, this rubber casing is entirely hypo-allergic and non-toxic, protecting the child from rashes or allergic reaction that some lower grade materials may cause.
2. What to look for in glasses for children who feel uncomfortable
Wearing something on your face all day can take some getting used to, especially for children. It is important to offer glasses that prioritize comfort in design. The ideal pair of children’s eyewear includes:
a) Adjustable, bendable ear hooks for maximum comfort and balance, that allow you to dispense a near “tailor-made” frame.
b) Extremely lightweight frames that don’t feel heavy on the face.
c) Properly sourced rubber, silicone, and plastic materials that do not irritate the skin, are soft and warm to the touch, and help keep frames on the child’s face.
Paying attention to weight, adaptability, and materials in frames will help ensure that your practice can offer options children will find comfortable. For us, LOOKKINO checks all the boxes and more, going far beyond the minimum industry requirements and providing greater “customization” than any children’s eyewear brand.
3. What to look for in materials that will be safe for curious children
Finally, young children are curious and frequently put items in their mouths. It may not be a first thought, but this can be a concern when it comes to eyewear that comes from low-cost, unknown, and not transparent sources. LOOKKINO frames are 100% made in Italy and follow the highest standard for materials. Other brands have lower standards for materials and sometimes include toxic, dangerous materials that could irritate the skin, or even impede a child’s development. All materials used in a LOOKKINO frame are 100% traceable, ensuring greater transparency and accountability.
How to make your practice more inviting for children and parents
Chances are that your practice can do more to make the office inviting for children and parents with children. Try including children’s magazines and books in the waiting room. Offer some type of incentive for children who complete an eye exam, such as a sticker or small toy. Give a child something to hold in their hand during an exam. Play with lights and colors so a dark room isn’t frightening at first. Provide some type of entertainment to help kids enjoy their experience at your practice. This small effort will help make the experience of the parents less stressful and will likely go a long way in creating lifelong customers.
To wrap it up, it’s extremely common for children to need some form of corrective eyewear and parents are sure to need support and education along the way. There is a ton of potential to increase your practice’s offering and customer base by simply focusing on children. In fact, according to the CDC, over a quarter of boys and girls wear glasses or contact lenses under the age of 17.
Graph from CDC, 2021
With this many children and teens requiring eyecare, it’s just smart business and good service to your customers to devote special attention to their needs. Get the FULL Essential Guide to Children’s Eyewear with strategies & practices to help your optical shop level up your approach!
Are you interested in carrying eyewear designed and engineered specifically for children? Contact Villa Eyewear to learn more about LOOK and the LOOKKINO collection.