Glasses – whether optical or sun – offer children significant developmental advantages.Children who require vision correction will benefit both in their educational and social development by wearing prescribed glasses. All children will benefit from wearing sunglasses when outdoors during the day – especially those in countries like Australia where the UV rays are harsh and damaging for developing eyes.Optometrists who carry a good stock of eyewear to meet the needs young people have the opportunity to build life-long customer relationships in the knowledge that they are making a very real difference to that person’s future.
An extraordinary 30 per cent of children experience vision problems that have a significant impact in terms of long-term health, school performance and emotional/social development, according to a review of 100 international studies conducted by Boston Consulting, commissioned by Essilor.1
The study found that visual difficulties impact a child’s ability to learn, resulting in academic under-achievement and the risk of reduced adult literacy, which has a significant impact on professional and social fulfillment.
Perhaps most concerning of all was the finding that vision problems caused “developmental difficulties and have been linked to anti-social /delinquent behaviour. In the USA, up to 70 per cent of juvenile offenders have undiagnosed vision problems”.
pre-determine, through discussion during the eye test, the child’s involvement in sport, personality type, and colour and style preferences
The review highlights the very real need for communities to take children’s eye health more seriously. The good news for optometrists is that these days most kids love the idea of wearing glasses, which makes the selling process easy.
The challenge comes in making sure that once the novelty wears off kids maintain compliance. And the best way to overcome this challenge is to supervise the child in the selection process, ensuring the frame they choose matches their personality, meets their aesthetic criteria and will suit their lifestyle.
Well-designed children’s frames are not merely a scaled down version of an adult’s frame. A child’s frame must be designed to suit children’s facial cranial measurements, especially the nose bridge which can make all the difference to whether or not a frame sits comfortably on the face during day-to-day activities – almost 90 per cent of the weight of any pair of glasses rests on the patient’s nose. Temples are also important when ensuring comfort – they should not press against the child’s face or sit uncomfortably on their ears.
Light, soft, pliable materials with no metal or assembled parts that can be swallowed are ideal for young children while acetates, nylon, TR-90 and some non-allergenic metals are ideal for older kids.
Glasses that can be fitted with elastic headbands are ideal for young active kids, as they will keep the frame centered on the patient’s face and snug to their eyes.
Assisting the Decision-Making Process
Well before you take your young patient to view the glasses you have on display, it’s a great idea to pre-determine, through discussion during the eye test, the child’s involvement in sport, personality type, and colour and style preferences. (As a side note, this discussion will also help relax the child and build your rapport.) It’s also ideal to get an idea of budget from the parent or carer.
In doing so, you – or your dispensing staff – will be armed with the information you need to guide the decision-making process from the beginning, avoid patient disappointment and maximise efficiency.
The Sense in Sunglasses
We’ve all grown up with the ‘slip, slop, slap’ message and so as parents, we’re well aware of the need to ensure our kids are covered in suncream and wearing their rash vests when they venture out on the beach. Less top of mind is the need to wear sunglasses and yet for children, especially those under the age of 10, exposure to UV rays can cause lifelong damage to the eyes. That’s because the young eye’s lens is clear, which allows for greater penetration of the sun’s rays. As the eye ages, it become more opaque, which provides better protection.
Unlike our skin, which is at greatest risk during the hottest hours of the day, our eyes are most at risk in the morning and early evening when the sun is low and piercing.
UVR damages the eyes over time, and is associated with cataracts and macular degeneration, both causes of vision impairment. The sooner you get your younger patients wearing sunglasses when they are outside, the better the prospects for their future vision.
Ten Tips for Recommending Spectacles
1. Recommend the best frame width to suit the child’s face – if they