Buying Guide: Kids' Eyewear Retainers



This article originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of INVISION.

Getting children in frames is one hurdle; keeping them on is another. Kids run, jump, play, climb trees, fall down, roll around ... you name it, and those little adventure-seekers have tried it (or are just about to). And when you’re dealing with a little one who wears glasses, his physical well-being isn’t the only precious commodity at risk. As eyecare providers, it is not only your job to provide your wee patients with healthy, clear vision but also with the security they need to keep track of their glasses. Eyewear retainers for kids offer a practical solution to keep eyewear in place, not to mention an opportunity for an add-on sale. — DEIRDRE CARROLL

Bright colors, fun designs — like these by Hilco — and effective merchandising help get kids and parents interested in the addition of a retainer.

Many children’s brands, like Miraflex (the Eva shown), offer frames that come complete with removable straps.

Headhuggers by Framehuggers, founded by a former lead technician for a pediatric ophthalmologist, offers fully adjustable neoprene eyewear retainers with latex-free silicone ends that firmly hug temple tips.

If security is a priority but adding a bulky or attention-grabbing strap isn’t, look for more discreet options, like Speccles.



Headhuggers by Framehuggers



Rec Specs

Wiley X



Offer the complete package. Many kids’ frame brands come with retainers. “I’ve found that the parents’ attitude about the retainer changes a bit depending on the frames,” says Dr. Barbara Bloom of Weber Vision Care in Harrisburg, PA. “For Miraflex, most of our patients are infants and toddlers. Some parents love the extra security that the strap gives. Our patients in Rec Specs are using them almost exclusively for sports so the strap/retainer is fully expected. The Wiley X Youth Force can be worn as a normal frame with no retainer, as a normal frame with the retainer, or with the temples removed and only using a strap.”

Never sacrifice fit. According to Paula Hornbeck of Eye Candy Kids in Delafield, WI, “When a strap is attached too tight, it pushes the front of the glasses against the child’s bridge, which can be unfomfortable.”

Merchandising helps. Don’t hide your retainers in the corner. “We display them in two areas, so they get more visibility, both at a child’s eye level,” says Angel Miller of Cynthiana Vision Center in Cynthiana, KY. “The kids love them because we typically have bright colors or the colors of their favorite team. Another trend is camo, camo, camo.”

Less can be more. Speccles retainers offer an inconspicuous way to keep any brand of children’s glasses in place. The clear PVC tubes, which are BPA-, lead- and latex-free, slide over the temple ends to comfortably but firmly holds specs in place.

Always have a backup. “If you partner with a company that holistically designs and offers what you need in the dispensary, you will most likely end up with a vendor that carries straps as well,” says Jocelyn Mylott of D’Ambrosio Eye Care, with four locations in the Boston area. “And when they don’t, we have straps on hand from Hilco. Within the last one to two years a lot of quality vendors have launched better children’s divisions.”




We have an accessories table where we display sports-themed cases for kids and adults, specialty contact lens cases, specialty lens cleaning cloths, cleaners and sports straps for kids and adults.

We use jewelry-type holders that we purchased at HomeGoods to display eyeglass straps and chains. We live in an area where sports are highly regarded so getting even the youngest kids in recreational eyewear or purchasing retainers is an easy sell to parents. We simply explain how retainers will be user-friendly for the child as well as reduce the chance for breakage and parents appreciate that.

When purchasing eyewear retainers we look for a secure fit and something that is easy to adjust. We purchase a variety of sizes and colors to accommodate different ages. We typically use Croakies because they offer the most options and are made in the USA.