Sisters Valeri Wolf, 16, and Rachel Wolf, 13, watch as Mary Nyitray of Optical Arts shows Amelia Wolf, 16.
Kids want cool. Parents want practical.
Common ground stares them in the face, literally, in today s eyeglasses for children,
tweens, and teens.
With trendy shapes, bright colors, designer names, impact-resistant lenses, and flexible metal frames, choices are hip enough for the young wearer and durable enough for the people who are footing the bill.
It s a diverse mix for kids not the bread-and-butter styles that they were 20 years ago or even 10 years ago, said optician Robert Johnston, owner of Sylvania Vision Center. I think it s pushed by consumer demand. The kids are expressing
what they want, and the manufacturers are starting to listen to that.
At the same time, he added, most parents we deal with are looking for quality.
More designers are making frames for young people, agreed Cathy Ashner, an optical technician and frame buyer for optometrist Thomas Cable in Maumee and Morenci, Mich. She cited Ray-Ban and Vera Bradley as examples.
Carsen Pharis, 8, looks cool in his Aspex wire frame glasses with magnetic clip-on sunglasses.
Other names catch the kids eyes, too: Barbie, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Mary-Kate and Ashley, X Games, Nike, and Timberland. For the older crowd teens the names to know include Coach, Kenneth Cole, Anne Klein, Ralph Lauren, Polo, and Versace.
Kids do know style names, she said.
They take just as much time as adults do in picking out their glasses, Ms. Ashner
pointed out. But she said adults also care about style in eyewear for their children. I think it s the same reason as for themselves Kids are wearing their glasses all day... They want them to look nice.
Mary Nyitray, optician and owner of Optical Arts, Inc., said that customers who choose a frame based on brandname status might not be getting the best value or style. I want them to look good when they walk out of here, she asserted. Sometimes they can get more for less.
Gavin Losey, 3, in Adidas sports frames with bifocal lenses.
To help patients choose a flattering frame, she takes photos from four angles so they can evaluate more than just a frontal view.
Ultimately it s got to be the kid s choice, because they ve got to wear them, and they ve got to feel good about themselves, Mrs. Nyitray said. I need to please the parent, but make the kids love it and have fun with it and feel special.
She said it s critical that a child feels positive about wearing glasses an attitude that starts with the parents. Act excited; tell your son or daughter that You get to wear glasses, not you ve got to wear glasses.
The worst thing that can happen is when the child needs glasses, and Mom
and Dad think It s my fault. It s horrible. It s going to change their personality. It s a bad thing.
Mrs. Nyitray said kids should know that needing glasses doesn t mean they have bad eyes. She tells them their eyes just developed in a different way than the eyes of children who don t need glasses to improve their vision.
For teens, glasses are more of a fashion statement than they used to be, she said. They tend to replace their glasses more frequently than adults, and are much more willing to choose bold frames in bright colors and edgy shapes.
When I started 30 years ago, we d see adult styles going to kids, Mrs. Nyitray said. Today, the teens are setting more of the look for the parents.
Contact lenses and prescription goggles are good options for children who play sports, Ms. Ashner said. She and Mr. Johnston said kids are usually mature enough to handle the responsibility of contact lenses around the age of 12 or 13.
Courtney Hummel, 18, in two-tone Bellagio glasses.
Parents should talk about that decision with their child s eye doctor, Ms. Ashner advised.
Style aside, all kids should be put in a polycarbonate lens, Ms. Ashner declared. The material is impact-resistant, thinner, and lighter than standard plastic or glass.
She also recommends photochromic lenses those that change from light to dark depending on light conditions because we always forget to put our kids in sunglasses. It helps to protect their eyes.
Children tend to lose clip-on sunglasses, she added. (They lose their glasses, too, as well as break them. Have a backup pair for your kids, Ms. Ashner suggested.)
Mr. Johnston said memory metal is a good choice for children s frames because it can twist and bend without breaking. Plastic is less durable, he said, but it s popular because of its wider range of frame colors from brown, gray, and blue to purple, pink, tangerine, turquoise, multicolor, and more.
Such fun, fashionable looks are one reason why kids are more comfortable and less self-conscious about wearing glasses than they used to be, Ms. Ashner said.
In fact, Some are upset when they are examined and don t get a prescription for glasses, she said.
Contact Ann Weber at: firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6126.
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