Why did Specsavers decide to design a range of frames that were suitable for children with low nose bridges?
We had a renewed focus on the fit of children’s frames for the last four years. In 2015, we started to look more closely at the shape of the children’s frames and how they could better match the facial characteristics of children. For a long time, children’s frames were just mini-me versions of their adult counterparts – this does not always match the characteristics or requirements of young, developing faces.
This led to us developing a new range for babies and toddlers, after which we started to look at different customer groups in order to identify people who have specific needs that we were not providing for. Our frame design team highlighted that children with Down’s syndrome often require a different fitting frame.
We then consulted with dispensing optician and Director of Professional Examinations at ABDO, Alicia Thompson, and referred to a paper about the facial features of patients with Down’s syndrome by Dr Maggie Woodhouse, to inform our work into the development of a new collection for this patient group. So you can see the time it takes to get a major frame range from an idea to the shelves.
“For a long time, children’s frames have just been mini-me versions of their adult counterparts – this does not always match the characteristics or requirements of young, developing faces”
How many frames are in the Disney KidsFit collection?
The glasses collection features eight styles, which each have a different Disney design.
During the design process, we were supported by parents, carers and leaders at a group called Downright Excellent (DEx) – who enable children with Down syndrome to maximise their potential. Feedback from this group on the glasses helped us to make our decision to produce the collection with a Disney theme –parents told us that it was important to give children something in a design that other children have access to.
From a fitting perspective, the collection has been designed all around a lower crest height, which suits children with flatter facial characteristics – including but not limited to children with Down’s syndrome.
Two of the frames have 150-degree hinges, meaning they flex nearly all the way out, which makes them that bit more durable and longer lasting. This was feedback that we took from parents and carers at the DEx meetings because the children can get through their frames quite quickly.
The fit of these frames is all about making sure that the eyes are centred. Seeing clearly helps children’s social and academic development, and I think the perfect fit is absolutely key for that.
What were the key moments in the project?
While we initially developed the frames for children with Down’s syndrome, we quickly realised that there was a wider group of children that would benefit from this type of fitting frame. This includes children of Afro-Caribbean or East Asian heritage , for example, who often have a lower bridge height and flatter profile. As a result, all of a sudden the potential audience broadened.
Visiting the DEx support group at key points during the development of this collection was also important. We visited them on a number of occasions and had the opportunity to fit these frames on children with Down’s syndrome and get feedback. With lots of different families there, we also got to better understand the needs of these children. Their insight was invaluable.
“It is all about ensuring that we can provide as many children as possible with good, comfortable and well-fitting frames so that their vision is optimised”
Why is consulting with an expert such as Alicia Thompson important for a project like this?
Alicia has been really supportive of a number of Specsavers frame projects such as this one – for her, it is all about ensuring that we can fit as many children as possible with good, comfortable and well-fitting frames so that their vision is optimised.
Alicia’s passion and expertise in this area was very beneficial to us when we were developing the frames and she knows that by working with us, through the sheer number of children that we see, there will be more children leaving opticians with better fitting frames.
Will you extend the collection in the future?
Yes – this is part of an on-going project with our children’s frames offering to ensure that we can provide children with the best possible fitting for glasses. We will use the feedback that we receive in the next stages of development.
Just as we launch new Disney characters in our other children’s ranges throughout the year, we are committed to updating this range in the future. We want all children to have the opportunity to look at something new next time they visit a store.
Part of this interview first appeared in Optometry Today
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