Bad eyesight isn’t something you hope to pass down to your kid, but like cowlicks or eczema, there’s a chance it'll happen anyway. Fortunately, getting your child in a pair of glasses doesn’t have to be a struggle anymore because a new company called Fitz is using 3D printers to make kids' glasses that look cool, feel comfy, and are custom-designed and durable.
It’s expected that children get a full physical once a year, but sometimes, kids' eye health gets pushed to the sidelines, especially before they hit school-age. There is an eye test designed for kids who can’t yet correctly identify letters (it’s called the tumbling E test, according to All About Vision) and it has children indicate with their hands which way the letter E is opening... but with only four directional choices, it leaves room for kids to simply guess correctly, then go on seeing poorly.
So how do you know if your kids need glasses? Stacy Pineles, a Fitz advisor and Associate Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Center says in a blog post on the Fitz website that parents should do the following three things:
- Always schedule an eye exam.
- Look out for signs of poor vision. These may include; squinting, holding objects closer or further away, strabismus (eyes crossing or drifting out), light sensitivity and abnormal head positions when looking closely at something
- Check your photos (another sign of a serious eye condition is an abnormal red reflex in photos)
And if your child does need glasses? No problem. You download the Fitz app, and there is a button which prompts you to “Measure Your Face" (this feature works only on the iPhone X and beyond). What child doesn’t love getting to take a selfie?
“We can get really accurate, down to the millimeter measurements just with your phone,” Fitz founder and mother of three, Heidi Hertel, says in a video on the site. Everything from the face’s width, ear height, cheek angles, and the bridge of the nose are measured, so your child gets a custom fit that won’t get loose or fall down. Speaking of custom, you can get your child’s name printed on the inside of the frames where you’d normally see a brand’s name emblazoned. Everyone loves having something personalized (hello nameplate necklaces and monogrammed towels) and kids will get a kick out of showing their friends this little secret component.
They can also pick out the details of their glasses from the frames, to the color (friends, there’s hot pink, burgundy, lavender, navy; I want ALL the glasses and I don’t even wear glasses). Allowing kids to select their own glasses is a huge part of them feeling ownership over their situation, and will make them more likely to actually wear the specs, per Parents.
The Fitz frames are durable and made using a “snap-fit hinge," so the arms are less likely to break or snap off. There are no screws involved, which means you won’t be doing the absolute fool’s errand that is crawling around your house looking for a screw the size of a sprinkle. You can also opt for the subscription model which, for $185 a year, gets you two pairs of glasses and unlimited frames (all you pay for is the lenses and shipping). This is a great option for the kid that readily loses or breaks things (so... every kid).
All of Fitz’s glasses are made in Youngstown, Ohio and the company is conscious not to waste material or ship the glasses in unnecessary plastic wrap. Perhaps best of all (from a busy parents’ perspective, at least) the people of Fitz will call your child’s optometrist for their prescription, and you’re not required to return the sample glasses because really, nobody has time for all that (and if you’re like me, the trunk of your car or your closet is a graveyard of returns that just aren’t gonna happen).
My sister didn’t get her eyes tested until she was in third grade when it was revealed that she was very nearsighted (keep in mind this was the early ‘90s and I’m sure eye health has made strides since). When asked how she lived so long without being able to see well, she said, “I thought that’s how everyone was seeing.” I tell you this anecdote because while true, it serves as a parable of sorts: kids don’t know how they should see, so it’s nearly impossible for them to know if they’re not seeing well. This is why it’s important to advocate for your child and ask specifically for their eyes to be tested by their pediatrician and if there’s any further concern, then by an opthamolagist (there are pediatric opthamolagists, too). The gift of seeing well is one of the most important things you can give your child, because as Hertel says in the video, “if you can see the world, you can change the world.”