Good vision is extremely important for children. At Eye Opticians we look after the eyes of children, toddlers and even babies. Often, the sooner an eye problem is detected, the better. So if you have any concerns about your child’s eyes, the first step is to come and speak to us. Our practices specialise in eye care for small children and children with learning difficulties or special needs so there is no need for any child to miss out on eye care.
If you’re wondering when to start getting your child’s eyes checked, do make sure that they are seen as a toddler, well before they start school. Some eye conditions can be treated more effectively if they are discovered by the age of three.
Things to look out for:
- Children screwing their eyes up or rubbing their eyes.
- Children who are clumsy, bump into things.
- Children who have problems with coordination eg catching or kicking a ball.
- Children sitting very close to the TV or with their nose too close to a page to read.
- Children who refuse to read or have difficulties concentrating.
- A child that perceives that text on a page doesn’t stay in a straight line but slopes.
- A child who is introverted or a “day-dreamer”.
- A child who is disruptive or have a short attention span.
- A child undergoing long-term medication – which may have eye-related side effects and could impact negatively on healthy sight e.g. steroids, ADHD drugs, anti-bedwetting drugs, antihistamines, and anti-depressants).
- Children complaining of headaches – most headaches don’t have an ocular cause; however, some children may have an uncorrected refractive error and/or they may have a binocular vision problem that causes headache.
Eye tests are FREE under the NHS for children under sixteen, as well as those aged 16-18 in full time education. Children in these groups will also get a voucher towards the cost of a pair of spectacles.
Once your child has had their eyes examined, the optician will let you know how often they need to visit. For many people, every two years is fine, but they may suggest your child visits every six months or every year, depending on their particular needs.
Our staffs are trained to help you choose a frame that fits well, as well as one that appeals to your child. There is plenty of choice of fun, funky and fashionable frames now. If your child requires any special dispensing fittings our qualified dispensing optician will help to get the best glasses for your child.
There are different types of lenses available, and our staff can guide your choices there too. Some children will benefit from thinner lenses, while others will want stronger lenses and well-designed frames that make it safe to play all sorts of sports. We can also discuss the option of contact lenses, which will appeal to older children.
At Eye Opticians you can choose from a selection of styles that can be purchased free with an NHS voucher as well as a large collection of frames ranging from £19 to children’s designer frames like RayBan, Lindberg and Safilo. All children’s glasses come with plastic lenses. We also offer thinner, lighter and protective lenses at reduced prices, should we feel they would benefit.
When was the last time your child’s glasses were adjusted? Children’s faces change shape as they grow, they may pull their specs off and on, and so you may need to visit us regularly for adjustments. Some people need very few adjustments, but with growing children you may find periods where you need to visit every week to stop the specs slipping, we will be happy to help however often you need to return.
Every spectacle lens has a centre, and your child should be looking through the centre of their lenses. If your child’s specs slip them may experience distorted vision when they look through the top of the lens, or they may look over the specs and gain no benefit from them at all. Children’s faces change shape and they can be rough with their glasses so they may need regular frames adjustments.
Does your child love their glasses?
With more fun and funky frames on offer, often customised with favourite characters, small children can look on glasses as a great accessory. As they get older, though, they may want to think about contact lenses, whether it is for appearance, to make it easier to play sport, or even to fit in with friends. These are all-important reasons to the child, and can help them be really motivated to wear contact lenses.
So, what’s the next step?
Whatever your child’s age and motivation, the next thing to do is to pop into the practice and speak to one of our staff who can advise you and your child about what wearing contact lenses involves. If you want to go ahead, you can then book a contact lens trial where your child can learn more about lenses and try them out.
There is no fixed age for children to start wearing lenses, but here are a few factors to consider. Getting used to contact lenses can take a little while. Your child needs to be motivated to learn how to put the lenses in and out: they need to be able to do this themselves. They also need a certain amount of discipline: it’s important not to wear the lenses for too many hours; so think about whether your child can do this. There is also a routine to learn for keeping the lenses clean and hygienic. While disposable lenses make life easier, nothing can get rid of the need to wash your hands every time you put the lenses in or out.
The younger the child, the more you will need to help with reminders about cleanliness and wear-time. A child who is motivated to wear lenses by the love of a hobby like horse-riding or ballet might be ready to start wearing lenses from the age of seven or eight, but ask our optometrist who can give you advice tailored to your child.
If there is a big difference between your child’s eyes, one eye may do more work than the other. Over time, the less-used eye can become lazy, which is known as amblyopia. A squint occurs when the eyes do not work well together, and consequently one eye may appear to drift out or in, especially when your child is tired. This can lead to one eye working less well than the other.
Squint and lazy eye can be detected during an eye test. The optometrist will check each eye, and will also test how they work together. It is important to get your child’s eyes checked as a toddler. Detecting a lazy eye at this stage means that treatment will be as effective as possible as the eye is still developing. Picked up early, squint and lazy eye can be treated so your child’s vision develops properly.
Tips For Buying Children’s Glasses
Our aim at Eye Opticians is to make shopping for glasses a fun experience for your child. So be sure to allow your child enough time to try on a variety of styles so they can get accustomed to seeing themselves wearing glasses and be happy with the frames they select.
The prescription is always the initial consideration in choosing the right glasses. Before you start looking for the frames, check with the optician about your child's lenses.
If the prescription is high, the lenses are likely to be thicker either at the centre or at the edges so avoid large frames that will increase the thickness of the lenses. To minimise this you can ask for high index lenses that would reduce the thickness and make the glasses lighter and more comfortable.
Most children are self-conscious wearing glasses for the first time. So choose frames that have a modern, attractive style with good coverage. Include the child in the frame selection process to give them confidence and inspires your child to want to wear their glasses.
Children's frames are made of either plastic or metal and many styles like the round eye or aviator are unisex and can be worn by a boy or a girl. Kids often look at adult frames or frames worn by celebrities on social media to look more grown-up. It's not unusual for kids to choose glasses that look like those worn by their older siblings or their parents.
Plastic frames are considered more durable, less likely to be bent or broken and fit all over the bridge of the nose for better weight distribution and comfort. Today there is an array of lightweight plastic materials that are hypoallergenic and very flexible.
Metal frames have pads, which sit on each side of the bridge of the nose. The composition of metal frames varies from different alloys to thin stainless steel to lightweight titanium. Choose frames made of hypoallergenic materials if your child has shown sensitivity to certain substances. For example, some people are allergic to metal frames that contain nickel.
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, so its extremely important that the right bridge size is chosen for these small developing bridges. Metal frame are made with adjustable nose pads, so they virtually fit everyone.
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. Children with very flat or shallow bridges should be fitted with either metal frame, so that the pads can be adjusted to fit their bridges or plastic frames with very narrow thicker bridge, such as an Asian fitting bridge.
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.
Whether the child chooses a plastic or a metal frame, always make sure the arms are of correct length. Too short and the glasses will slip as there is not enough length over the ear to hold the frame, too long and the sides will project below the ear and hurt on the soft bit of the ear.
For a baby or toddler, a frame with cable temples, which wrap around the back of the ear to stop the glasses from sliding constantly or dropping off, is highly advisable. Alternatively you can choose a frame that includes an elastic strap that goes around the head to stop the slipping.
An optician usually is the best judge of whether a frame fits properly on the bridge and behind the ears.
At Eye Opticians, all children frames are fitted with plastic lenses as standard. It is advisable that children's glasses should be glazed with PNX material. This material is significantly more impact-resistant than other lens materials for added safety, it also significantly lighter then regular plastic lenses with a scratch resistance coating. PNX has also a built in protection against damaging UV light, which at a young age is important to protect children from.
Polycarbonate and PNX 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 and PNX is the lens material used for sports eyewear, regular e frames do not provide enough protection from large objects such as balls, rackets, bats and flying elbows. So if your child is involved in sports, a proper sports goggle with polycarbonate or PNX lenses will provide the best protection against eye injury. At Eye Opticians we carry a large selection of sports goggles for all types of sports and we will be more then happy to advise on the best goggle for optimum protection for your child’s sport.
Because children can be tough on their glasses, it's a good idea to purchase a second, or backup, pair of glasses for them — especially if your child has a strong prescription and cannot function without his or her glasses.
If your child wears glasses full-time, photochromic lenses or prescription sunglasses should be considered to decrease glare, increase visual comfort and provide 100 % protection from the sun's harmful UV rays.
- Designers have taken cool and classic designs that work for adults and scaled them down for kids. Don't be surprised if your child wants eyeglasses that look a lot like yours.
- Branded or licensed eyewear appeal to kids of all ages.
- Spring hinges, strong and flexible frame materials and impact-resistant lenses help protect your child's eyes.
- Don't forget about prescription sunglasses protecting your child's eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays may lower the risk of adult eye problems like cataracts later in life. Photochromic lenses made of impact-resistant material provide 100 % UV protection and are a great option for both indoor and outdoor wear.
- For the child who is fast becoming a teenager, eyewear fashion is important. Designer frames from Ray Ban, Tom Ford, Etnia, Emporia Armani and others are very appealing to older teens.