Eye Opener

Romeu, OD
Private Practitioner,
Eyecare Researcher
Seeing Photochromics
Through the
Eyes of a Child

By Andrew Karp

Madeline L. Romeu, OD, is an advocate for children’s eye health issues. She travels regularly to Columbia, South America, to provide pro bono eyecare to children in need. Additionally, she applies her extensive professional experience with children to a lecture on “Detecting Visual Problems in Children,” which she has presented to more than 30 parent-teacher organizations.

Dr. Romeu and Susan M. Stenson, MD,  co-authored a new report, “A Focus on Children’s Quality of Vision: Factors Affecting Eyeglass Lens Preferences,” published by Transitions Optical. The report, which is based on “The Pediatric Quality of Vision Survey,” assessed children’s visual experience with different lens types. The parents of the children participated in an adjoining survey to provide greater context for the findings.

Dr. Romeu conducted the study at her private practice in West New York, New Jersey. She discussed the survey’s key findings with L&T.

What did you hope to learn by doing the study?
The goal was to determine whether children would pick clear polycarbonate or Transitions lenses and what factors influenced their choice.

What differences did you find between the girls’ and boys’ attitudes toward photochromics?
Of the 49 children who completed the study, 88 percent chose to keep the Transitions lenses rather than the clear lenses. The six who selected the clear lenses were all girls, four between the ages of 14 and 17 years old and two girls between 10 and 13 years old. The study did not isolate the reasons for their choice.

What about their outdoor vs. indoor use of photochromics?
When wearing Transitions, the children appeared to see better with less squinting in bright sunlight. They also preferred Transitions lenses when working on a computer in dim light or indoors. Both the clear polycarbonate and Transitions lenses were equally comfortable.

Does the “cool factor” of photochromics destigmatize eyeglasses for children?
The “cool factor” was a major reason why kids enjoyed wearing the Transitions lenses. Their friends not only liked their glasses but they wanted to get Transitions for themselves.

What role do photochromic lenses play in creating a total ocular health program?
Photochromatics play a mayor role in the total eyecare of kids. Due to the fact that 80 percent of our exposure to harmful UV rays occurs before the age of 18, and that it is cumulative, it is important to protect kids at all times. The convenience of one pair of glasses to take care of all their visual needs while providing protection and convenience is a tremendous selling point. Once we are used to using sun protective lenses, it becomes second nature and we always wear them.

Should photochromics be substituted for sunlenses?
Photochromatics serve 90 percent of all our visual needs. For that 10 percent of the time when we need very dark sunglasses like in water sports or snow sports, we then may consider an additional pair of sunglasses especially with polarization.

What are the challenges in educating parents about the importance of protecting their children’s eyes from UV?
In the study, once parents were informed about the importance of UV protection for their children, over 95 percent said they would get Transitions lenses again for their children as well as consider it for themselves.

Many parents economize on children’s sunglasses because children often lose or damage them. How you do persuade these parents to trade up to a pair of premium-quality photochromics or sunlenses?
The additional cost of Transitions lenses is easily justifiable to parents once they understand the importance of UV protection.