Vision and optical trends and technology are always changing—and today are better than ever.
Sight is one of your most valued senses. Whether you’re just starting kindergarten or getting ready to retire, you need your eyes to be at their best in order for you to be your best. But it’s not just about seeing well, it’s about looking good, too. We talked to some local experts to find out the latest trends and what every member of the family needs to know when it comes to taking care of your vision and looking good while doing it.
Your annual eye exam
When it comes to check-ups, it’s important to start young, says Dr. Sally Halim of Village Eyecare in Woolwich Township. She says that parents are encouraged to start monitoring vision progress with check-ups for infants as young as 6 months old. “When [they’re] that young, we want to make sure they don’t have a severe prescription or eye turn,” Halim says. “Sometimes the inside of the eye socket might not be fully formed yet.”
Just as important is getting parents and kids in the habit of coming in for exams regularly, because eyesight is something that changes drastically over the course of a lifetime. The changes can affect everything, from grade school all the way to adulthood. Halim says you generally start to notice sight problems when kids start to learn how to read. Along with math, it’s one subject where the eyes and brain need to work together to get things right.
She says that sometimes, if a child seems like they don’t like reading, the problem might be with his or her eyes. “They’ll try to avoid reading,” Halim says. “They’ll say they don’t like it, when it’s actually uncomfortable.”
The perfect fit for kids
When it’s time to buy a child a new pair of glasses, it’s important to remember the kid who is wearing them, says optician Frederic Meserall, of Meserall Vision & Hearing in Haddonfield. The key to a great pair of glasses—especially for first-time wearers—is that the child has to like them. “It’s really important that they like them, or they’re just going to take them off,” Mesarall says. “I advise the parents to really involve the child in the process so they are happy.”
Kids’ glasses also need to be sturdy in order to stand up to the everyday wear and tear of an active kid. No pair of glasses or lenses is unbreakable, but there are ways to make them as resistant as possible. “You can get what they call the ‘bend and twist frames,’ which is just what it sounds like,” Joe Didonato of Didonato Eyecare in Somerdale says. “They’re very flexible with spring hinges so the frame is harder to break.” Didonato suggests combining that with a break-resistant polycarbonate lens, making glasses about as kid-resistant as possible.
Another key aspect is to make sure that new glasses fit a child as well as possible, says Susan McDevitt of Optique Boutique in Mount Laurel. “Kids are so active that if they don’t fit, they’ll slide,” she says. “You also want them to forget they’re on. Some kids might have significant prescriptions and the lenses could be thicker than necessary which could make them self-conscious.”
Halim says even once a child gets glasses it’s important to keep up with doctor visits to make sure they don’t outgrow their prescription. She generally suggests coming in once a year, and possibly more for teenagers. “Vision can change during growth spurts,” she says. “It’s common to have big jumps.”
Making a statement
The teen years into adulthood are also the times when frame sturdiness becomes a little less important and fashion, trends and style become the new necessities. The experts all seem to agree on one thing: People aren’t trying to hide their glasses anymore; they want to be noticed. Didonato says only a few years ago, people were trying to go low-profile with their glasses and often opted for wire frames or rimless frames. “Trends have changed to what they were in the ’60s and ’70s,” he says. “You see darker frames with thicker plastic.”
People imitate what they see in the media, and Didonato says the trends started to change when people on TV started wearing thicker glasses. Think Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow. “I think it’s a good trend,” Meserall says. “It enhances rather than blends.”
Bolder frames are just part of a larger trend in which glasses are becoming a larger part of a person’s style profile. McDevitt says that Optique Boutique operates kind of like a bespoke optician, where they try to fit every customer with a customized pair of glasses. “I ask them what they’ve worn in the past and what they’ve been dissatisfied with,” she says. “We try on a lot of frames to test the shape of their face. … We want to fit you properly. It’s almost like a makeover.” By the time McDevitt combines the perfect frame with the proper prescription and needs of the wearer, the customer has a custom, one-of-a-kind pair of glasses just for them.
Now that people are including their glasses in their style, Meserall says that means they often have more than one pair, so they can mix and match with their wardrobe. “I’d like to see more of that,” he says. “How could you wear one pair of glasses? You wouldn’t do that with shoes or clothes.”
Someone might need special glasses to work on a computer all day at work, but McDevitt says it’s easy to find something new for outside the office. “We talk to customers about lifestyle hobbies,” she says. “Some people will go sporty, but when they’re in the office they have a completely different style.”
Even while they are trying to keep up with the latest styles, Halim says people have to remember to keep up with their eye appointments. With people spending more and more time on their computers and smartphones, she says symptoms largely associated with older people have started to show up much sooner. “We start seeing patients in bifocals in their 30s, when it used to be something for the 40s or 50s,” she says. “Symptoms will come out at night when they drive home after working on a computer all day. … If they have a pair of glasses to put on while they’re working on the computer, the drive home wouldn’t be so demanding.”
Trends will always change, and thick frames might be on their way out in five years, only to be replaced by the next “in” style. But vision will never go out of style, and it’s important to make sure you stay at your best no matter what the trends.
918 S. White Horse Pike
Frederic Meserall Vision & Hearing
206 Kings Hwy. E.
120 Center Square Road
3223 Route 38
Published (and copyrighted) in the Art of Living Well pull-out section of Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 7 (September, 2014).
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