When did Specsavers decide to design a range of frames that were suitable for children with low nose bridges and why?
Specsavers has had a renewed focus on the fit of its children’s frame offering for the last three to four years. In 2015, we started to look more closely at the shape of the children’s frames we offer and how they should better match the facial characteristics of children. For a long time, our children’s frames have just been mini-me versions of their adult counterparts – this does not match the characteristics or requirements of young, developing faces.
In 2015, we developed a new range for toddlers and babies, after which we started to look at our different customer groups in order to identify where there were specific needs that we were not catering for. Our frame team highlighted that children with Down’s syndrome require a different fitting frame.
We consulted with dispensing optician, Alicia Thompson, and referred to a paper about the facial features of patients with Down’s syndrome by Dr Maggie Woodhouse, to inform our work into the development of a new collection for this patient group. While this work started in 2016, it has only just come to market.
“For a long time, our children’s frames have just been mini-me versions of their adult counterparts – this does not match the characteristics or requirements of young, developing faces”
How many frames are in the Disney KidsFit collection and when did they launch in store?
We launched them in Specsavers practices across the UK and Ireland on 5 November. The collection features eight styles, which each have a Disney design.
During the design process, we attended a support meeting for parents and careers of children with Down’s syndrome, which is run by the Down’s Syndrome Association (DS). Feedback from this group informed our decision to produce the collection with a Disney theme – parents told us that it was important to give children something in a design that other children have access to.
From a fitting perspective, the collection has been designed all around a lower crest height, which suits the flatter facial characteristics of children with Down’s syndrome. The collection also features wider hooks, making adjustments easier, which is useful for wider facial measurements.
Two of the frames have 150-degree hinges, meaning they flex nearly all the way out, which makes them that bit more durable and longer lasting. This was feedback that we took from attending DS meetings because the children went through their frames more quickly than children.
The fit of these frames is all about making sure that the eyes are centred. Seeing clearly helps children’s social and academic development, and I think the perfect fit is absolutely key for that.
Can you share insight into the key moments in the project?
While we started developing the frames for children with Down’s syndrome initially, in the process we quickly realised that there was a wider group of children that would benefit from this type of fitting frame. This includes children of Afro-Caribbean or East Asian heritage, for example, who have a lower bridge height and flatter nose profile. As a result, all of a sudden the potential audience broadened.
Visiting the DS support group at key points during the development of this collection was also important. We visited them on a number of occasions and had the opportunity to fit these frames on children with Down’s syndrome and get feedback. With lots of different families there, we also got to better understand the needs of these children. Their insight was invaluable.
“It is all about ensuring that we can kit as many children as possible with good, comfortable and well-fitting frame so that their vision is optimised”
Why is consulting with an expert such as Alicia Thompson important for a project like this?
Alicia has been really supportive of a number of Specsavers projects such as this one – for her, it is all about ensuring that we can fit as many children as possible with good, comfortable and well-fitting frame so that their vision is optimised.
Alicia’s passion and expertise in this area was very beneficial to us when we were developing the frames and she knows that by working with us, through the sheer number of children that we see, there will be more children leaving opticians with better fitting frames.
How have employees responded to the collection?
We have had some really positive feedback from store colleagues. Establishing this has made it easier for staff to find the right fitting frame for more customers.
Will you extend the collection in the future?
Yes, indeed. This is part of an on-going project with our children’s frames offering to ensure that we can provide children with the best possible fitting for glasses. We will use the feedback that we receive in the next stages of development.
Just as we launch new Disney characters in our other children’s ranges throughout the year, we are committed to updating this range in the future. We wouldn't want these children not to have the opportunity to look at something new next time they visit a practice.