Fashion and functionality: A teenage perspective

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The teenage years are often when common vision problems first arise. A US study conducted in 2016 found that 51.9% of girls and 38.8% of boys aged 14–17 wore glasses or contact lenses, highlighting the prevalence of the need for eyewear within the teenage cohort.

The four main factors that may impact choices around vision and eyewear during the teenage years include self-image, too much screen time, being active and playing sports, and nutrition and hygiene.

Common vision problems for this age group include asthenopia – tired eyes often caused by frequent screen time and looking between the board and computer screen or book in a school environment, hyperopia – farsightedness where people have trouble focusing on things close up, and increasingly, myopia – the inability to see things clearly unless they’re close to your eyes.

So when looking for a vision solution for teenagers it's important to be aware of their lifestyle and what will best assist in improving eye health within that context.

A teenage perspective

Eighteen-year-old Isabella recently developed eye strain and a bout of irritating eye twitches after a prolonged period of screen time. Her optometrist advised she start wearing glasses. “The lens I was prescribed was relatively mild, only 0.75,” she said. “Yet it was the aesthetic idea of having to wear glasses and feel confident in them that made me feel vulnerable. I felt incredibly insecure at the thought of having to wear glasses for the first time.”

Considering her age, Isabella also said she questioned why she needed glasses when her parents' eyesight is completely fine. Having grown up with good eye health, she felt disheartened by the sudden changes in her vision and worried about further deterioration.

Finding a frame to suit Isabella was a balancing act between fashion and fit, as well as taking into consideration her sensitivity to the idea of glasses in the beginning.

“With time, I started to put this new reality into perspective, and tried to shift my thoughts to something more positive. I tried to look at wearing glasses as an opportunity to purchase a new accessory and found a pair that fits my style,” said Isabella.

Suiting an active lifestyle

Teenage-hood is a time in an individual’s life where lots of different factors meet to make up a busy and bustling lifestyle – academic, social and sporting endeavours all compete with one another for centre stage.

At age eight, Chloe was prescribed her first pair of glasses due to short-sightedness. “At the time I loved wearing my glasses to school because not many kids wore them and everyone was really interested in them,” she said.

However, when Chloe entered her teen years, her attitude towards wearing her glasses in a class environment changed. “When I started high school, I felt a bit shy wearing my glasses because I never found a frame that I liked and that I thought suited my face.”

Chloe transitioned to contact lenses in year eight to better suit her active lifestyle. Playing netball, water polo, soccer, track and field and more recently AFL, contact lenses provided the perfect solution to Chloe’s sport-based needs, all the while improving her self-confidence.

“After a while, I started wearing contacts every day at school because it meant nobody could tell I had bad eyesight.”

Now in her later teenage years, Chloe says she’s come to enjoy wearing glasses just as much as contact lenses. Having found a frame that suits her face-shape, she feels more confident wearing glasses for day-to-day life activities, reserving contact lenses for sport.

When it comes to active teens, it’s important to remember that contact lenses might not work for everyone. There are other options available that provide the protection necessary for a range of physical needs. Whether this be impact-resistant glasses for sports where teens are at risk of eye injury, or accessories such as straps to ensure a secure fit to the face when doing activities like rock-climbing or sailing.

The importance of a good fit

As well as taking into consideration fashion and functionality, it is imperative that the chosen vision-correction option fits well. There is no point having an aesthetic frame if they cause headaches or an impact-resistant lens if they slide down your face. If frames don’t sit where they should on your face for example, you won't be looking through the optical centre of the lens, which will cause poor vision.

It's crucial that frames fit the width of the face, sit well on the nose, stay in place and are comfortable to wear. In a classroom environment teens will frequently look up to the board, then back down to their book. If movement like this causes frames to slip and readjustment is constantly needed, then it might be enough to give up altogether.

If you're wondering about glasses, contact lenses or other eyewear accessories, the best idea is to make an appointment with your local optometrist for an eye examination to ensure you find the best option - and best fit - for you and your lifestyle.

Some teen-focused options

Rock star

Filled with energy, Rock Star by Aaron's Eyewear delivers the latest mini-celeb looks while inspiring individual style and self-confidence. This bright young range pops with personality with its fashion-forward design and fun pattern and colour fusions.

Lacoste T(w)eens

The L3636 frame (pictured) is a T(w)eens interpretation of Lacoste’s famous colour block concept. With classic branding, such as the highly recognisable Lacoste Croc positioned on both temples, it’s playful and lively, making it perfect for young teens. Extremely flexible and backed by Marchon’s unconditional warranty, T(w)eens frames are durable and comfortable to wear. Available in classic havana as well as pastel azure and coral. Distributed by Marchon Eyewear.


Less is more with Random eyewear. Simple frame designs are presented in fashion forward colours and crafted with care for maximum comfort and durability. Italian designed to appeal to every teen.


Modern, elegant and budget friendly, Instyle frames are fashioned with high quality materials and styles to attract younger wearers.


Crazy about colour, dotty about detail and passionate about prints, Joules eyewear comes from a long history of UK-based fashion design. Petite sizing and vibrant colours are at the heart of the latest collection, which offers sizes that fit perfectly, with patterns, finishes, colours and details that delight.


Partner post
Occasionally we publish posts from sector partners; in this case Mivision. Author Emily Gibbs is a journalism student and a part-time contributor to the ophthalmic jounal.

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