Bill Curran is an optician who specializes in children’s eyewear at William J. Curran & Son Opticians. He has a passion for helping children find eyewear that fits correctly and looks great. I’ve asked him some questions about the importance of good-fitting eyewear, and about the line of rimless eyewear they’ve developed for kids.
How did you get interested in working with pediatric eyewear?
We saw a real need. There’s really two main reasons.
One: The number of children that need eyewear has increased dramatically in recent years. Parents and pediatricians are more diligent than in the past. Twenty-five years ago, a child wearing glasses at age three was rare. Now, we are fitting children with eyewear as young as three months old.
Two: The choices being offered to the parents of these young patients were terrible. Most Opticians were just finding the smallest adult frame they could find and make it fit. The result was a pair of glasses that was ill-fitting and overwhelming their tiny faces. It also came down to supply and demand. The supply of a good fitting children’s frame was terrible and the demand was great. What we wanted to do was solve that problem by designing eyewear that is custom fitted for every child.
Are there issues in fitting children that are different than fitting adults?
A child’s face is not as developed as an adult. A child’s bridge can not support large, heavy eyewear. Therefore, the frames and lenses must be very lightweight and the proper size. Also, the temples must be long enough to wrap around their ears. Many Opticians use a “cable temple”. We do not like this type of temple because they are very uncomfortable to wear, not adjustable, and they usually pull the child’s ears out. What we do, is use extra long temples that bend around their ears with no pulling on the back of the ears. This temple design results in a secure and comfortable fit for the child.
I know a lot of parents would love to know what they should look for in good fitting glasses, can you give some pointers?
Most importantly, the glasses should be the proper size. Too many times the lens and bridge size are too big and the temples are too long. Eyewear should look like it was made and fitted for the child and not be overpowering to the child’s face. Most young children have a very small undeveloped nose bridge, so we recommend a lightweight frame with adjustable nose pads.
On a similar note, what are things to look for that might indicate that our child is outgrowing their glasses?
When a frame is the proper size, the child’s eyes are more or less in the geometric center of the lenses. When the eyes are closer to the temples than they are to the center of the lenses,or if the child has marks along the sides of their head the frame is too small and the child should be fitted with new eyewear
A lot of us buy clothes that are slightly too big for our kids, since we know they’ll grow in to them, and given the expense of glasses, I think a lot of us would love to get frames for our kids that are a bit big so that maybe they’ll last a bit longer. Are there problems with getting glasses that are too big?
It is tempting to buy big to allow for growing room. However, this is a mistake and in our design unnecessary! Because of our frameless design, the glasses grow with the child! As the child grows, and the Rx changes, we can increase the lens size and change the shape, the child will be able to wear the same frame for years.
You have designed rimless frames for children. One of your very happy customers posted a picture of her daughter in your frames on our facebook group, and it caused quite a stir. What led you to design your frames?
When my son was very young he needed his first pair of eyewear. The problem was that all available kids frames that I tried on him looked very heavy and nerdy. My son did not like anything I showed him and I really didn’t like any of them myself.
At this point we decided to design a rimless frame for him. We had to make many design changes because children’s facial features are so different than adults. After much work and design changes we showed my son the design and he loved it and I did too. Now, 13 years later my son is still wearing rimless eyewear and still loves the look.
After this we started to show this new rimless kids design to our regular young customers and both the kids and the parents fell in love with it. Today 95% of our children’s eyewear sales are with the rimless frames.
What are some of the features you designed into the frames that make them suited for children?
The frame is lightweight Titanium and consist of no nickel which can cause an allergic reaction to 10% of the population. In our frame design, there are no screws to come loose, no hinges to break, and it weighs less than 3 grams. The frame grows with the child and we can make it in any lens shape.
Are your frames available to people that do not live close enough to visit your optical shop?
Some of our children’s rimless frame designs are available at other Opticians, however, the expertise, design, and passion are only available at William J. Curran and Son Opticians. A few years after we designed the first kids rimless we felt a need for more colors and part sizes, so we met with the company that makes the parts and we did consulting work for them to help their company launch their first frameless kids line. This kids line that is available elsewhere is geared more for children from six years on up, but with our personal design, we are able to fit children from eighteen months and up.
We custom design our lens shapes to the child’s face which is something other opticians will not do. Most Opticians are sales clerks and will only sell what the sample frame is. Since we are designers, we handcraft all of our eyewear to the individual wearer. Also, most Opticians will have the eyewear made by a wholesale lab. We make all our rimless eyewear in our own lab, which gives us complete control on design and quality.
Many thanks again to Bill for sharing his expertise!