Choosing a first pair of glasses for a child can be challenging since there’s more to consider than style alone. The key variables to remember are frames that fit properly and comfortably, and durable and scratch-resistant lenses. Make these the top priorities when you shop—if your child’s frames are broken or uncomfortable, that means time spent not wearing them.
What are the safest, most comfortable, and durable eyewear options for children? Explore our answers to questions you should ask when purchasing glasses for your children.
Plastic frames were once the preferred type for children because of their durability, until metals became more durable, and other materials like rubber became available. Whether you’re looking for children’s designer eyeglasses, or something a little more budget friendly, you’ll find plenty of lightweight, stylish frames in a variety of colors. Memory metal like the bendable material EasyTwist uses is perfect for kid’s glasses, as it’s virtually unbreakable and can withstand rough treatment without warping. These frames are ideal for the child who occasionally mishandles their glasses or tends to fall asleep while wearing them.
But plastic is still a common choice in kids’ eyewear. Plastic frames are most often used in sports and high-performance eyewear, so they’re a perfect option for active kids.
The best eyeglass lens types for children will vary from child to child, but it's best to go with strong, durable lenses.
Polycarbonate is one of the most durable lens materials available, ideal for an active child. This lens material resists impacts, so during the inevitable childhood mishaps, polycarbonate lenses won't shatter as plastic or glass lenses do.
“If your child wears prescription glasses, we strongly suggest polycarbonate lenses for their safety,” says Dr. Hodgson of FramesDirect.com. “These lenses are impact-resistant, which will help protect your child from injuries if he or she has an accident while wearing eyeglasses.”
Polycarbonate lenses also provide 100% protection from UV rays—there's no need to purchase a special UV coating for them. UV rays can damage the eye just as they do the skin, so it's important for your child to wear eyeglasses that will protect their eyes from UV rays. And polycarbonate lenses are lighter weight and thinner than plastic or glass lenses, which will help your child adjust to wearing eyeglasses.
All polycarbonate and hi-index lenses at FramesDirect offer 100% UVA/UVB protection.
Lenses come with several other options, and some are ideal in children’s eyewear. Here are a few to consider:
A scratch-resistant coating is imperative in your child’s eyeglass lenses. All lenses are prone to scratching, but scratch-resistant lenses will better withstand rough treatment by a child.
Bright light reflecting on eyeglasses can be hard your child’s eyes; an anti-reflective lens coating will reflect light away from the eyes and reduce glare.
While most lenses are clear, you can also choose from a variety of tints and lens colors. Yellow lenses, which may offer some protection from the harmful blue light emitted by digital screens, are available in children’s eyeglasses.
Some brands offer their own proprietary lenses in children’s eyewear. For example, Wiley X Youth Force lenses meet ASTM F803 Sports Safety, ANSI High-Impact, and ANSI High-Velocity Impact standards. Whether your child takes a tumble or a ball to the face, rest assured their eyes are safe in these glasses.
Frames typically come with one of two options in nose padsadjustable or integrated pads. The adjustable style usually includes non-slip pads. This benefits the child in two ways: The nose pad will adjust to fit comfortably and securely, and the non-slip pad will keep the eyeglasses in place. Integrated nose pads are molded into the frame, with no separate parts or pieces. The benefit of integrated pads is durabilitybecause, let’s face it, kids can be rough on their eyewear.
Wearing glasses can improve the visual clarity your child enjoys, but it’s due to the vision correction offered by the lenses rather than any physical change to their eyes.
Active kids need glasses that can handle the bumps, drops, and crashes that come along with childhood. Look for spring hinges, rugged materials like plastic or memory metals, and shatterproof polycarbonate lenses. EasyTwist frames can handle rough treatment—they’re made from a special metal alloy that’s tough enough to bend and twist, and then springs back into place. Frames from Oakley are another good option, as they feature non-slip contact points, so no matter how much running and jumping are on the schedule, these glasses are ready for the ride.
A common frustration for parents is a child’s misplaced eyeglasses. If your kid can’t seem to keep track of anything, then get a few pairs of inexpensive glasses. A lower price doesn’t mean you’re skimping on quality. Pez eyewear kids’ glasses are ruggedly constructed, so when you finally find the missing ones (in the dog’s bed, under the couch cushion, or in the bottom of the laundry basket) they’re ready to go again.
Brightly colored frames might help when it comes to tracking down vanished specs, so check out the bold, easy-to-spot options from Carrera and Tommy Hilfiger.
Many kids’ glasses are made with hypoallergenic materials. Acetate, a plastic derived from cotton and wood fibers, is hypoallergenic and durable. And nickel-free glasses or eyewear with silicone nose pads can help prevent allergic reactions.
Yes, bifocals are available to anyone who needs vision correction. No-line bifocals, also known as progressives, are perfect for children because of the seamless look of the lenses. Reading glasses are also available for children, in magnification powers from 1.00 and up.
The best way to get your child to wear their glasses is to get them involved in the selection process. Allow them some level of choice in the frames they’ll be wearing, even if they can’t get exactly what they want. Letting your child choose the color or shape, at the very least, will hopefully give them a sense of ownership and personalization of the glasses.
If your child still resists, suggest wearing the glasses for short periods of time at home, where you can offer reminders: Creating small, achievable goals will help establish the habit for the long term.
Yes. Most doctors’ offices and eyewear designers offer warranties on eyeglasses for childrenlook for a pair of eyeglasses with at least a one-year warranty. And keeping a spare pair on hand is a good idea in case your child's frames are lost or broken, and you must wait for another pair to be ordered.