Dispensing glasses to children is a very different experience compared to adults. In part two of a series, CHEDY KALACH looks at what makes a good children’s frame and how to fit the completed glasses.
In part one we looked at the importance of children receiving early eye tests, and how to build a rapport with both the patient and their guardian.
Most kid’s frames are now specifically designed for children. A good one has a lower crest, larger frontal angle, larger splay, flatter pantoscopic angle, the ability to shorten the temples, and spring hinges or a flexible frame.
The first few characteristics are to fit the child’s development, whilst the last few are to ensure it is durable.
As mentioned in part one, many companies are now specifically designing frames with these characteristics. Hence, you shouldn’t just carry smaller adults frames.
While on frame characteristics, it is also important to recommend a suitable lens. Ideally, the lens should be lightweight, comfortable, durable and, I believe most importantly, impact resistant. I’d suggest you recommend a Trivex or polycarbonate material for these reasons.
Thickness is generally not a major concern, as the eyesize tends to be fairly small. Just ensure you order a grind lens if it’s a plus power. On the other hand, you may need to re-consider this advice if you have an atypical prescription.
Furthermore, as dispensers we can also be ‘money conscious’ on behalf of the client, and therefore possibly not recommend multiple pairs or an additional cheap backup pair.
Convenience and protection
It is estimated by the World Health Organization, Fact Sheet No. 261, July 2001, that 80% of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV occurs before the age of 18. Therefore, it is also important to recommend lenses with UV protection.
Photochromic treatments may be a good suggestion, particularly considering how much they have improved over the years.
At the age of 13 I misplaced my specific prescription sunglasses within a week, even though I had been wearing specs fulltime for a few years. For the convenience, photochromic treatments might have been a better option.
After the frames and lenses are chosen, it is critical to take the appropriate measurents accurately and precisely. Use a pupillometer or a digital measuring system to measure corneal reflex interpupillary distances, and measure heights according to the centre of rotation rule for single vision lenses.
For bifocal lenses check with the prescriber, but I’d suggest to raise the bifocal segments as high as the pupil centre. This way it ensures the wearer looks through the bifocal segment. For any degressive, occupational or progressive lens design, I’d recommend to fit these lenses in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions.
As mentioned in part one, children can be fairly adaptable so it is important to get accurate measurents. You want children to get used to wearing the best appliance you can supply them.
It is also important to final check the glasses when the specs come back from edging and fitting.
The final fit
If it’s your practice’s policy not to final check jobs that come back from the lab I’d suggest to make dealing with children and exception, particularly as kids are not as vocal if they don’t feel right. Even if the kid says ‘they feel funny’, guardians tend to say they’ll get used to them. If they don’t they will not wear them at all.
Either way, it’s not a great outcome for their vision. Therefore, to avoid any potential harm, its best to measure them accurately and check they are correct prior to handing them over.
On a final note, take charge at the handover and final fit and ensure you let the guardian know they should regularly pop back in to get them readjusted.
Just like adults, if children like the frames and can see perfectly through them, they will wear them. If they are uncomfortable, they won’t.
If you want to dispense to children, I would advise setting up a kid’s corner, similar to speciality kids hairdresser. Parents will recommend your practice to their friends if they have a great experience. Word of mouth marketing is great for local businesses.
Dispensing to kids can be challenging, but can give your practice loyal and regular customers. Most importantly, make it fun and enjoy the process of dispensing.