How to choose smart glasses for kids?

I am almost legally blind. Michael can’t see either so I guess I should not be surprised that my 7-year-old appears to have some vision issues. He passed the eye exam at the pediatrician’s office but they thought he seemed to struggle. They suggested I take him to a real eye doctor, which now I need to do.

I am dreading being told the kid needs glasses. He’s not going to want to wear them, and I feel certain they will be lost or broken rapidly.

So give me your best advice for purchasing frames for kids? Are the plastic frames stronger? Do the metal frames bend in case he’s kung-fu chopping with some kid? Do you definitely do the scratch protection? Do kids needs the anti-glare? (They aren’t driving but they are on the computer.)

Are there brands of frames or retailers of glasses that hold up well or have good deals on kids’ frames (like they’ll replace them if they break)? Do you get insurance on the glasses for kids? Is that a worthwhile investment? What is a reasonable price to pay for kids’ glasses? (I know stronger prescriptions cost more.)

Also, are big frames in again? (Please say no!) Check out this gallery of stars in glasses from the New York Daily News that suggests they are!

So please give me any and all eyeglass purchasing, protecting, convincing your kids to wear them advice. I need it.

60 comments Add your comment

thrifty mom

January 26th, 2011
12:49 am

I had a friend advise me to get the $10 Walmart frames to start with and then upgrade. If your child is hard on the glasses the stick with easy to replace frames. I think the lenses can be taken out and be put into another frame if they are the same frame. We bought the frames at Walmart for our first pair and had Sam’s put in the lenses w/ a better deal. The second pair of glasses we got the whole thing from Sam’s and are extremely happy with them. I really like the doc at our local Sam’s very good with the kids and that makes a huge difference plus very professional and knowledgable just like the more private practice (with greater cost).

smh

January 26th, 2011
5:23 am

Both of mine wear glasses and most recently, those came from Walmart at a total of $30/pair with no frills. Can’t beat it. Typically you have a year warranty and free adjustments. We ended up using our vision benefits for a nice pair from the eye dr and then the supercenter for the ones that went to school. My youngest initially wore hers while sitting in class but didn’t wear them on the playground for example. If she left them at school by accident, we had a back up pair at home. Worked out well. From what I understand, Costco is a leader in this market so if you are a member, check them out as well.

motherjanegoose

January 26th, 2011
6:23 am

At age 51, I have 20/20 or better vision for reading at a distance, per my December visit to the Doctor. I only need glasses for up close reading and the Doctor also said I am one of the few who can really use the 1.5 readers and be correct. I am happy that one part of my body is still holding up ;).

My daughter has worn glasses for years and our dog loves to grab them and chew the ear piece.
SO…we have ordered them online from Zinny per Clark Howard. She typically wears contacts and these are used just in case. We do have vision insurance but the glasses are usually $20 or so and we just pay cash. With little kids, you should have more than one pair…I would think. We get our daughter’s contacts from Costco too.

As far as convincing…I never had a problem with that. Get a pair that the kids like? I doubt they will wear something that they think is ugly.

motherjanegoose

January 26th, 2011
6:25 am

Haha…since my husband orders them, I did not even spell it correctly. Here is the link:

http://www.zennioptical.com/

MomOf2Girls

January 26th, 2011
7:42 am

I will second the online option. That’s how we get most of our glasses (hubby needs graduated bifocals – online didn’t work for those). We spent between $10 & $15 / pair plus minimal shipping. My daughter has 5 pairs (different colors) plus a pair of sunglasses, and it was still below $100. I did not get any extras – just got the basic lens (except for sunglasses, of course).

There are several places that will do free adjustments on any glasses, not just those purchased at their store (Lenscrafters even advertises this). We use VisionWorks because that’s where we bought my husband’s glasses, or Lenscrafters because of the convenience and they advertise about it (so I don’t feel guilty :-).

MomOf2Girls

January 26th, 2011
7:43 am

Forgot to mention that we used Zenni and also Glasses Unlimited. I don’t think the second one has children’s frames, though…..

devildog0300

January 26th, 2011
7:44 am

I second Zenni. I have two pair of Zenni glasses, both have transitional lenses, Photochromic Lenses and other bells and whistles and cost less than $100 each.

Terry

January 26th, 2011
7:46 am

I will have to say plastic frames work for kids. I am 42 years old and STILL have my plastic frames from grade 1 (when I was 7 years old). They have stood the test of time. I would not recommend the red and blue hornrim style of course.

Roswell Jeff

January 26th, 2011
7:57 am

We may be going down this road soon. A friend of ours showed me their daughters glasses – very nice and virtually unbreakable. She twisted them into a pretzel and they sprung back to their original state. The hinges are dual jointed and spring loaded so they flex both from side to side as well as up and down. They purchased them at Pearl Vision and with coupons they were under $30.

Stacey

January 26th, 2011
8:02 am

I don’t think wearing glasses (nor braces) has the stigma now that it had when I was a kid. My son actually asks for glasses every time I go. I also need to make him appointment for him as he has started complaining of headaches, especially after he reads. He has a few friends who wear glasses and they don’t seem to be a big deal to them.

Belle

January 26th, 2011
8:15 am

I was one of those glasses and braces kids in high school. I loved both things back then it made me sparkly!! I would have loved the online option for glasses mine were always so expensive. I’ve not had glasses since doing lasik but if I ever do need them again…I’ll go the online route.

BShepC

January 26th, 2011
8:15 am

Also a big Zenni fan…can’t beat the price. if anything, get a couple of pair from them for back up :)

Tara

January 26th, 2011
8:29 am

My 8 year son had to get glasses last year and since I get my glasses at America’s Best I got his there. They offer the 2 for 1 deal and the exam is free. I got him a $59 frame (BOGO, so 29.50 each) and upgrade with the scratch proof and transitions(which is a little expensive) because my son plays sports. They also offered a $15 protection plan for kids with a 1 time free replacement. Well we bought them in May and by September he had utilized both free replacements and was on the last pair! So I heard about a titanium flex frames that Wal-Mart sells. I checked them out and they were $89 per frame with a 1 time free replacement plus I added the $69 for the transistions and scratch resistant. But they completely fold all different directions!! So I invested in them and he still has them! I was SO glad that I finally found some relief for my pocket book!

MannyT

January 26th, 2011
8:32 am

Online option is good, but be careful with kids. You need to get that OD measurement which is more likely to change with growing kids. Opticians measure it, but they are not wild about giving you that measurement so you can buy glasses elsewhere.

jg

January 26th, 2011
8:35 am

My son used to wear glasses when he was about 8 – hated wearing them. He broke at least 3 pairs. So stupid me goes and buys him (at that time) the “unbreakable” glasses – don’t remember how much it was but they were $$$ for me at the time. So what does he do? First day he wore them he lost them at Chastain Park. Guess who was searching the grounds there til dark that night?!

May

January 26th, 2011
8:41 am

We get glasses for our son at Zenni. I only get the titanium frames (bendable, about $25 per glasses) and we get him two of the same style in different colors. When the frame brakes (he’s done it several times), we can order replacements for half-price. Getting the same style gives us the freedom to switch the lenses in case he ruins the ones on the nicer frame.

MomOf2Girls

January 26th, 2011
8:41 am

@MannyT – I believe you meant PD, not OD. Yes, you do need that. I asked the optometrist to do it, which he did without a problem. This was at Lenscrafters, and the optometrist is not connected with the store, so it wasn’t an issue.

Photo Mom of 4

January 26th, 2011
8:42 am

Well, we bought glasses at the eye doctor for our 9 year old and we got a great deal because of our insurance. Of course, he recently lost them and we have to replace them. Unfortunately the eye doctor doesn’t do a free replacement. So its off to Walmart we go…

Betty

January 26th, 2011
9:10 am

Wow!! I wish this topic had come up a few months ago. I didn’t even know about zenni or these other places and just spent a lot more on my own glasses from Target! Next time I’ll know! Good info in case my kids end up needing glasses–Thanks!

Wayne

January 26th, 2011
9:33 am

I wish I had something profound to say about glasses, but I don’t. I hate them. I’ve worn them since I’ve been 1 yo. I was able to wear contacts for a few years but ended up losing the vision in one of my eyes. So, I’m very cautious about the remaining eye.

I tell folks, especially with bad vision, to go to an opthamologist, rather than an optometrist – at least once to get a baseline on your eye health.

Through all my years of going to eye doctors, everytime I went to an optometrist, they’d send me to an opthamologist. I cut out the middle man and go straight to the Optha.

As for getting glasses, I haven’t done the online route only because I like to see them on my face to see what they look like. Some glasses may look nice, but once you put them on, eh, not so hot.

Both of my sons have glasses, youngest (4 yo) has glasses that don’t stand out and he’s happy with them. The oldest (7 yo) has glasses that are in your face. He likes them, and folks always comment on them. I’d rather see him, rather than the glasses, if that makes sense?

JOD

January 26th, 2011
9:33 am

Ahhh, memories. I remember my first pair of coke bottle glasses back in the day. Thank goodness for contacts! I’m hoping DD gets her Daddy’s vision since mine is awful.

Thanks to all who suggested Costco – I’m a Costco junkie, but have never tried their vision services. I will definitely try it.

Wayne

January 26th, 2011
9:34 am

I should point out that I didn’t lose the vision in my eye due to contacts. Something else entirely different…

ATL06

January 26th, 2011
9:43 am

I would definitely insure them it cost about $30.00 at the time of purchase and if the frames are broken you are only required to pay $20.00 to replace. I go to Lenscrafters for both myself and my son and I like them.

Mattie

January 26th, 2011
9:52 am

All three of my boys have glasses and contacts. The money spent on unbreakable, scratch resistant lenses is well worth it. We also started out with those flexor frames, after the technician wowed my son by bending them every which way. He naturally had to show his friends as soon as he got them, and managed to snap them in half.

Consumer Reports highly recommended Costco, as others have mentioned. My kids are older now, and only wear the glasses at night, but when they need a new prescription I plan on giving them a try. We buy contacts online at Vision Direct.

lakerat

January 26th, 2011
10:12 am

Walmart has been our provider of choice since the oldest (now 25) has had glasses and contacts since age 7. I cannot count the times we have had “emergencies” while on vacation in FL or visiting grandmom and his or his younger brother had “glasses” problems – all we did was go to Walmart and they were able to pull up their prescriptions thru their nationwide network and, voila, we had a new pair (one caveat – that was many years ago and since some Walmart vision centers are independently owned and operated – even though inside the actual Walmart store – every Walmart may not be able accomodate like the did us).

And, I second the earlier comment about going with their $9 frames and working up from there – they have some stylish ones for cheap.

Also, my spouse recently go 2 new pair from JC Penney for about $180 TOTAL, and that included no line bifocals. Glasses are really inexpensive IF you just shop around.

Tonya C.

January 26th, 2011
10:13 am

My daughter has been wearing glasses since she was 3 (she’s now 5). We purchased them at America’s Best. She hasn’t lost a pair AND never broken them in a way they can’t be fixed. I’m actually amazed.

Wayne

January 26th, 2011
10:34 am

@Tonya: I’m constantly amazed that my kids haven’t lost or broken theirs either. They may bend the snot out of them, and you wonder how they can even see out of them, but lost or broken? Knock wood, nope.

jarvis

January 26th, 2011
10:52 am

How do you convice someone to go to the eye doctor?

My wife has constantly squinted since we started dating over 10 years ago.

I’ve been nagging her to get glasses for most of the decade. I always get the same response: “I just have an Astigmatism”.

I’ve tried to explain that it’s like refusing to go to a Cartiologist because when you’re told you have heart problems you reply: “I just have a bad valve.”

She’s just defining the reason for the problem not addressing it.
Still she doesn’t go.

JOD

January 26th, 2011
11:14 am

@jarvis – Does your wife suffer from headaches or neck issues? If she does, it’s probably related to her vision. I know that if I don’t have my contacts in or glasses on I get awful headaches from eyestrain.

You could also pull out all the stops and tell her it’s contributing to wrinkles :o)

jarvis

January 26th, 2011
11:19 am

JOD! I like that last part, but I might have to have one of her sisters pass it on. She’d take the wrinkles comment much better from one of them.

Me…I’d just end up in the dog house, and I’m already their enough that I’m beginning to receive mail.

jarvis

January 26th, 2011
11:20 am

there not their (made the reversal of that mistake yesterday)

[...] How to choose smart glasses for kids?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Are there brands of frames or retailers of glasses that hold up well or have good deals on kids' frames (like they'll replace them if they break)? … [...]

JOD

January 26th, 2011
11:37 am

@jarvis – All’s fair in love and eyewear :o) In all seriousness, I’m sure she is suffering some sort of negative physical impact, so a little covert nudge toward the opthamalogist may be in order…

FCM

January 26th, 2011
11:40 am

TWG oldest is currently on pairs 7 & 8 in just over 2 years. Expect breakage. Expect Loss.

I take her to America’s Best and for around $100 I get 2 pairs of glasses, scratch resistant lenses, INSURANCE against breakage, thild hinged glasses (they bend different)and the Eye Exam!!! Best deal I have ever found!

Now I did start to realize the breakage came because she was tired of her frames. SO I made her pay me $30 for the last set of glasses. Amazingly they do not seem to get lost or broken any longer.

Mrs. G

January 26th, 2011
11:48 am

jarvis – Do you think that she’s scared that they’ll find something wrong? I know that some people are like that when it comes to anything medical (or dental). When I got my first pair of glasses when I was 12, I was terrified in the days leading up to my eye exam because I thought that the eye doctor was going to tell me the reason that I couldn’t see well was because of a tumor or something (oookay, paranoid much?). I’m not sure how you can convince a grown woman to do something that she really doesn’t want to do, but bribery might work. ;) If I really didn’t want to go to the eye doctor and my husband promised a Coach purse or maybe a new charm for my charm bracelet, I might go. Hahaha, on a more serious note, maybe just have a chit-chat with her about how much better she’ll be able to see and ask her why it is she doesn’t want to go?

Warrior Woman

January 26th, 2011
12:34 pm

I second Wayne’s recommendation of opthamologist instead of optometrist. You will get better, more complete eye care.

ssidawg

January 26th, 2011
12:55 pm

The boy in your promo picture is 7 years old? TWG- I think it’s time to update that picture!

Optometrist vs Ophthalmoplogist...

January 26th, 2011
12:57 pm

…possibly more comprehensive exam (though new rules and regs make the main part of eye Exams about the same) but not necessarily better care… and at a higher cost, too,

And, medical insurance usually covers ophthalmologist exam since he/she is a MD…

DB

January 26th, 2011
1:50 pm

@Jarvis: Be proactive. :-) Make an appointment for her and tell her she’s going. Make it on a Saturday, if you have to, and drive her there yourself. And if she gives you any grief, tell her you married a woman, not a mole, and if she doesn’t stop squinting, she’s going to look like Mr. Magoo!

catlady

January 26th, 2011
1:51 pm

Theresa, have you not taken your children to a “real” eye doctor in the past??? You have been relying on the pediatrician?

If he does need glasses, I hope this is a time you will be very firm, very structured, about his care of them. (”Here is where you will put them when you take them off at night” etc.) You can set the tone so that the “problems” are at a minimum.

We have had children at school for whom Lion’s Club paid for the exam, glasses, etc, and the children deliberately tore them up (one scrubbed them on the concrete playground) or lost them with the idea that they did not have to wear them then. The Club paid for several pairs for several of the kids, then drew the line. The JUDGE cited the parent of one for neglect since he did nothing to see that the child used the glasses, the parent HAD to supply the glasses out of his money, AND the parent was told if they were lost or broken or the kid didn’t wear them he would be put in jail for awhile.

Engender responsible habits right from the start, and make it stick.

I am constantly amazed, in this day and age, that most parents do not do a routine eye exam every year after 4 (earlier if there are suspected problems) and regular dental checks after 2 or 3. Fifty years ago I would understand it, but now?!

Tonya C.

January 26th, 2011
1:55 pm

catlady:

For many, the cost can be prohibitive. The eye exam alone for our then three-year-old was $260. The regular optometrist won’t see them until at least 5 and preferably years of age.

Tonya C.

January 26th, 2011
1:56 pm

@Wayne…same here. Maybe it’s the fear of never seeing Dora the Explorer or Spongebob ever again that makes the difference? ;)

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eric Chase, Eva Miranda. Eva Miranda said: How to choose smart glasses for kids?: (They aren't driving but they are on the computer.) Are there brands of f… http://bit.ly/ehdwiX [...]

Sandra

January 26th, 2011
2:38 pm

I have a cold (and a pounding headache) so I hope I’m making sense.

I don’t know if there is anything you can do if a kid hates wearing glasses. I think in time they will just get use to it. I also agree with getting more than one pair. I don’t think it matters what type of frame you get them but agree it would be better if you gave them a price range and let them pick out their own frames. A kid will be more willing to wear something they had a hand in choosing.

I have worn glasses from around 9 or 10 years of age. I really needed them earlier but I use to cheat on my eye exams by hanging around the door while one of my siblings was getting tested and memorising the chart. I was caught out when the teacher realised that I had no clue what she had written on the chalkboard because I couldn’t see it. When I finally had a pair, I was amazed at all the things I had missed. I remember getting all excited about being able to see the individual leaves on the trees. I still didn’t like them and it didn’t help when other kids commented about them and the first few years I would either “forget” them at home or “lose” them at school. But other kids and the kiddo wearing it all eventually get use to the glasses and more times than not they stay on the face. I tend to sleep in my glasses because I hate waking up and not being able to see (everything is a blur). I am also worried about emergencies or if one of the kids happen to need me. If I do take them off and they get moved/fall off or my husband takes them off and heads off to work (happened several times) and doesn’t tell me were he put them, I can spend a good hour feeling around with my hands trying to find them. I do not recommend kiddos sleeping in their glasses but they usually will. When I was a kid the only one who didn’t wear glasses in our family was my mom but so far my kiddos seem to have very good eyesight.

Jarvis

Getting glasses is life changing because it changes the way you look and how you feel about yourself. When you get glasses as a kid, there is plenty of time to get use to the “new” way you look before all of the need to be attractive sets in. Also, Like others have said she might be afraid. I hate going to the eye doc and usually try to avoid it even now. I think the last time I had an eye exam was 4 years ago. I really need to go and get checked out but will probably avoid it until the pair I am wearing break. Although, I have been known to tape or super glue the glasses together and walk around like that for months. I did once almost super glue them to the side of my face when I re-glued the handle back on wrong and put them on still tacky. The best thing to do would be to talk to your wife and find out why she doesn’t want to go. If it is fear then there are ways to get over that and if it is anxiety about her looks then she could go either with contacts or, if you have more money, laser. I also have an astigmatism and it doesn’t get better just worse and one of these days in the case of an emergency she won’t be able to see to help herself much less anyone else in the family. If I didn’t have my glasses and there was a fire, there would be no way I would be able to get my kids out. A lot of kids hide (especially small ones) when fire breaks out and there wouldn’t be time to grope around and trying to find them just by feel.

Sandra

January 26th, 2011
2:46 pm

Well, Now that I think about it my headache just might be because I need a stronger pair and not from my cold.

[...] How to choose smart glasses for kids?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)They purchased them at Pearl Vision and with coupons they were under $30. I don't think wearing glasses (nor braces) has the stigma now that it had when I … [...]

Cammi317

January 26th, 2011
2:55 pm

My daughter started wearing glasses at 8 and every pair or her glasses came from America’s Best until this school year, which was great because they replace the glasses if the kids break them. Her latest pair came from Eyeworks of Decatur, a little boutique in City of Decatur. They are really nice, but were WAY more expensive than I had planned on shoveling out. She’s 13, but I remind her everyday that she had better not break or lose them.

jarvis

January 26th, 2011
4:08 pm

Wow! Only one topic today.

Let me start a new one:
Where are my car keys?

jarvis

January 26th, 2011
4:10 pm

Thanks to all of you on the earlier topic. You guys are the best. I’m a glasses wearer myself, so I just don’t get the not going to the eye doc. My wife has no issues with going to the regular doc, I write it off to her really just not wanting glasses.

Now if you don’t mind helping again, please tell me where I can find my keys.

Roswell Jeff

January 26th, 2011
4:18 pm

@jarvis,

I saw them earlier over there.