Fitting kids: sensitivity and positivity

Dispensing optician and vice president of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Jo Holmes (pictured), shares her top tips for fitting children’s frames

Jo Holmes

When dispensing for children, I always go for a durable frame. All kids go through phases of being rough with their glasses.

When speaking to parents, I tell them about the protocol if the glasses break. In practice, we have repair vouchers and so I discuss what is covered and what they would have to pay.

We discuss the importance of sunglasses protection as well. We want to make sure that we’re offering protection against UV if the child is outside a lot. Patients need to look out for the correct CE mark to make sure they have full UV protection.

Firstly, I always sit down with the parent and the child to discuss what type of glasses they would like and what their favourite colours are. This gives me time to assess the size of the child’s face and their bridge depth. I then go and pick five or six frames off the rack. Having a selection empowers the child so that they feel they’re making the decision. This way, they’re also not looking at frames that aren’t going to fit properly.

The most common questions I get asked are: what do I need to wear them for? And how long do I need to wear them? At this point, children can get a bit emotional, so you need to be sensitive and as positive as you can about the imminent changes in this little person’s life. If they understand what they need to wear glasses for that helps them accept it.

I once had a mum come back to me after I’d dispensed glasses for her daughter. She said to me ‘you never really know if your child can see as well as you do.’ She’d gone to Tesco and her little girl said: ‘Mummy, that big blue sign has got writing on it.’ It was the opening times board and mum felt awful because she’d never realised that her daughter hadn’t seen the writing before.

We encourage parents to get children tested from around six months onwards because they are developing all the time.

The important thing is to educate parents and children on spectacle wear – putting them on and taking them off, as well as the cleaning process. It’s important that they both know the wearing schedule. I tell them that I don’t care how many times they come back for an adjustment – every day if need be. It’s so important that the child is looking through the correct part of the lenses. If the glasses are slipping or are wonky, it won’t help the child’s eyesight. Parents shouldn’t ever feel afraid to come in and ask for an adjustment.