By Katie Wolford
When children need eyewear, the best result occurs when you assess the child’s needs and tastes and then those of their parents.Finding a balance between the two will provide the optimal selection.
Offera Frame the Child Likes Best
If a child is excited about the frame they selected, they have a greater chance of wearing their eyewear consistently. For that reason, the optician should first show the features of the frame the child seems most drawn to. Once the child has that frame on their face or in their hand, gauge the parent’s response. In our optical, we are all trained to understand the role personality plays in patient and parent interactions*. When putting children in frames, that means reading the parents’ response to judge whether it will be possible to put the child in their first-choice, or whether a compromise will be required. Recently, we had two families back-to-back in our optical with boys the same age who both wanted bright blue frames. The parents were skeptical, concerned that the frames would not match any of the boys’ clothing, and that the bright blue would look strange.
Read Child,Parent Personality
The boys’ preferences for this frame were the same, but their personalities were very different. One boy had a personality we call in our office “powerful,” meaning that he had a take-charge perspective and a strong need to have his viewpoint win out. It was apparent that he did what he wanted without worrying about pleasing anyone–he was not a child who would wear frames he didn’t like. His mother,fortunately, was not quite as powerful, andtherefore, more open to compromise.The other boy had a personality that we call a “peaceful,” meaning that hegenerally aimed toplease and usually would bend to make others happy. His mother was more of a dominant, powerful, type. The first boy–the one with the powerful personality–walked out of our optical with blue frames while the second boy, with the more peaceful perspective, left with brown frames. From an optical perspective, both frames fit well, were stylish and would be appropriate for their spectacle lens prescriptions.
In the above situations, a winning scenario was created for both the child and the parent.It is optimal to put children in the frames they like best, butin cases like that of the second boy with the peaceful outlook and dominant mother, compromise will work because a peaceful child will generally not fight a parent about a pair of eyeglasses. It would have been a concern to allow the first, more “powerful” little boy to walk out of the optical with the brown frames as he may decide not towear themwhen outof sight of his parents.
Parents often will invest more in their children’s frames than they would in their own, but they also expect us to offer a product that will withstand rough treatment. Favorites with both parents and children are Marchon’s Flexon frames and Safilo’s Carrera Memory metal frames. Both of these products have flexibility to them, so they can be bent and twisted without snapping. In addition to the heartiness of the frames, children usually find it cool that they can twist and turn their glasses. If the child doesn’t seem excited to be getting glasses, I often show them how the temples of the frames can bend up and down and in and out, and say to them: “You could have glasses that can do this. You can have special glasses.”
Generous warranties also are essential. Along with its flexibility, a key reason Flexon frames are so popular with parents is that they offer a two-year warranty. When the parent is budget conscious, I will discuss the benefits of the Carrera Memory metal frames that offer slightly less flexibility and have only a one-year warranty, thus making it more cost effective.
When addressing durability concerns, it is important to offer children and parents Rec-Specs, frames designed for recreational use on the sports field. After a parent has spent $300-$400, or more, on a pair of eyeglasses for their child, it seems sensible to invest in a pair of glasses that can withstand, and more importantly protect, their child’s eyes while they play. These frames are designed so that if the child gets hit in the face, the lenses pop out, rather than in. Rec Specs are now designed to look like sunwear and the frames are fashionable. In addition, the lenses can be made with Transitions lenses which allows them to be worn for indoor sports such as basketball and outdoor sports like baseball. By focusing on frames the child likes best, finding a way to work with parents to put the childin those frames, and offering a sturdy, quality product, you can improve children’s vision and comfort–winning along-term, loyal family ofpatients.
Providing children with the best frames to meet their needs requires an optical that draws their attention and caters to them.
Our practice has three locations. Two locations have frame boards dedicated to children’s frames, and the third is an office that caters exclusively to children.
Ourframe boards for children have low shelves that are eye-level for the age group the frames displayed are for. We also incorporate the pop culture images that appeal to children, including a large Mickey Mouse near our Disney frames collection.
When a parent is very concerned about finances, rather than having the parent leave for a lower price, we supply discounted packages which include frames, impact-resistant lenses, and anti-glare at a reduced fee. This is an option to consider when trying to ensure the child gets what he needsdespite the parents’ need tostay within a tight budget. The difference in frame durability is discussed with the parent.
At our kids-only location, we have a movie room with a popcorn machine. We serve a large population of children who have special needs.In order to secure a proper fit, sometimes we will take measurements while the child is watching a movie. Most children, however, retreat to the movie area while their parents and our opticiansfinalize their eyeglasses order.
We’ve learned that you have to accommodate the child when fitting their frame. If necessary, that may mean we will sit or lie on the floor with a child to capture that moment of stillness necessary for an accurate fitting.
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Katie Wolford is an optician and certified paraoptometrist in the practice of Review of Optometric professional editor Carole Burns, OD, FAAO, in Westerville, Ohio. To contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org.