Wordfull Wednesday: vision, glasses, and children

Glasses have become the bane of my existence and yet I am truly beholden to them.

Oldest Baby Boy in His First Pair of Glasses - 2.5 years. Middle Baby Boy in his First Pair of Glasses - 7 months old. Baby Girl in Her First Pair of Glasses - 6 months old.

All three of my children wear glasses. If you have seen some of my previous Wordless Wednesday posts that feature those little rascals, you probably already realize this (even though you will also see photos of a glass-less baby girl because she often breaks and loses hers). What you may not realize is how important the issue of children’s vision has become to me.

All Three in Their Glasses.

I thank goodness nearly every day that I have a fabulous family doctor that noticed my middle son’s right eye turning out ever-so-slightly and referred us immediately to our now fabulous pediatric ophthalmologist. Something I would never have thought we would ever have to do – neither I nor my husband wear glasses. This was all new territory.

Happy Boy in His Glasses. - 7 months old. Exploring the Cake on His First Birthday.

That was the beginning of a long journey of glasses, patches, doctors visits, tears, and lots and lots of money (and to be totally honest, lots of yelling about the bent and broken glasses that are inevitable with young children). But I know that we have it easy compared to a lot of other families.

Visiting San Francisco - 5 years, 3 years, 1 year. Visiting the Oregon Coast - 3 years, 1 year.

My little monster was 6 months old when our family doctor saw him for his regular check-up and recognized that his eyes were not quite right. She sent us to a pediatric ophthalmologist in the neighboring town, which we were able to do within a week or two. I can’t remember what I was expecting when I went to the appointment, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t what I thought.

Little Monster in His "Big Boy Glasses" - 3 years.

For one thing, I had never been to an opthamologist myself. For another, how in the world do you test a baby’s eyes?

Well it turns out that they can and do and it is incredibly accurate what they can determine a baby can see without their participation (i.e. reading letters or numbers off a chart or giving any kind of feedback whatsoever).

I found out that day that my baby boy was severely farsighted and needed glasses. Immediately. His prescription is something like +9.

It almost makes me cry when I think back to when he got his glasses and tried them on for the first time. He looked at me and could really see me for the first time. I saw his face just light up and felt my heart melt.

He saw bubbles for the first time later that week when we went to our Gymboree class. I had previously thought that he just didn’t enjoy the bubbles. In fact, he just couldn’t see them.

Baby Boy's First Winter With Glasses - 9 months old.

My oldest was 2.5 at the time and I thought I should maybe take him in too, just to be sure. I nearly canceled the appointment several times because he had always passed screening tests with flying colors, could see the tiniest pieces of fuzz in the carpet, or read small letters in a book. Even at first look, the ophthalmologist thought he looked fine. Once dilated, however, it became clear that he was also farsighted and needed a prescription of about +4.5.

Birthday Boy in His New Glasses - 4 years old.So, when I was pregnant with baby girl about a year-and-a-half later, we already knew she would have to have her exam at 6 months (the earliest a child can, or should, have a full eye exam without other medical issues). She is also severely farsighted and her prescription is about +6.5.

Baby Girl in her "Big Girl Glasses" - 3 years old.If you have any concern beyond a normal vision screening at school or check-up at the doctor, a pediatric ophthalmologist or optometrist is your first stop. Pediatric ophthalmologists recommend eye exams for all kids by the age of 3 or sooner if there is a family history of vision problems. Even though, as you can see in my family’s case, there was no family history. In fact, many ophthalmologists and optometrists recommend a full exam in a child’s first year of life for all children.

Again, I am thankful every day that I have an amazing family doctor, a fantastic pediatric ophthalmologist, and that I can afford (even if it is a struggle sometimes) to buy glasses for three children without insurance. I am incredibly grateful that their vision is corrected with glasses.

Baby Girl Showing Off Her Glasses - 9 months old.

It is imperative that vision problems be caught and corrected as soon as possible because it can greatly affect the physical and intellectual development. This is not a case of forcing a child to use his eyes to prevent reliance on corrective glasses. Young children can often force their eyes to focus and do the work required, but it is not good for their developing bodies. Please listen to the ophthalmologist. Find a good one, and truly listen.

Resources:

1 in 10 children is at risk from undiagnosed vision problems.

  • InfantSEE® – provides a one-time, comprehensive eye assessment to infants in their first year of life, offering early detection of potential eye and vision problems at no cost regardless of income.
  • Sight for Students – provides free vision exams and glasses to low-income, uninsured children.
  • Prevent Blindness America – the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.
  • Lions Club Sight Programs – projects aimed at preventing blindness, restoring eyesight and improving eye care for hundreds of millions of people worldwide through: eyeglass recycling, Lions Eye Banks, vision screening, and treatment.
  • Little Four Eyes and Facebook Group – a community for family and friends of little ones in glasses.
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Comments

Wordfull Wednesday: vision, glasses, and children — 17 Comments

  1. What a wonderful post! Like you, I’ve become extremely interested in the issues of children’s vision. The fact that so many kids have undiagnosed vision problems is shameful.

    Your children are beautiful. I love the story of your son seeing bubbles for the first time. Thank you so much for writing this!!
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  2. This is too important to not share in every way. Thank you for a very easy to understand and beautiful representation of the need for early check-ups. Children can’t say what the problem is and we often think they’re being difficult when they literally can’t see to perform. Thank you, again.

  3. “I saw his face just light up and felt my heart melt.” Awww, isn’t it amazing. My 11yo got glasses for the first time recently. He has a stigmatism. Like you, I’ve always had great sight and had no idea what the process was. When the opthamologist gave me the prescription, I had no idea what to do with it! I hope your kids are cooperative, mine is thank goodness and he hasn’t lost them yet either.
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    • Thanks, Alison. I think getting glasses can be hard at any age, but I do hope that your 11 year old is more responsible and understanding. Times are so different now too, with no real stigma attached to kids that need glasses. What a relief for them and us!

  4. long story, short question: Why not buy mail order glasses for kids at $15-25?

    I KNOW these don’t address astigmatism. (Dollar-store glasses are probably comparable lenses, but frames are so brittle and breakable for young ones.)

    Please don’t tell me I can “hurt their eyes” with glasses not from optician. Not true. Could cause headaches, but nothing permanent.

  5. Hi there
    Thank you for your beautifull blog. I came across it after searching for some answers regarding my childrens eyes and it helped me with my heartsore on the day. My oldest was diagnosed with eye probs @ 6 and got glasses. His right eye was allot worse than the left but wearing glasses has helped him. There were never any signs of eye problems with him and with our 2nd child turning 2 next month we tested her early despite having kept a careful eye for any signs – nothing indicated problems but yet again we were shocked to hear that she too has eye problems worse than my son. She is a +9 on both eyes. We are in South Africa and right now my biggest challenge is finding the most suitable glasses for a 2 year old to keep on her head and to actually stay on her head. Every eye specialist seems to have a different opinion. She has to go for a follow up in 3 months so Im guessing her prescription may change again then and thus we really dont know which way to go with the glasses now? Could you please give me any advise on what glasses worked well for your little one? So far the best options iv found are the ski banz – but I think the elastic might be a problem with the hair. The other option is those little wrap around the ear one’s – like in the old days. And is it worth having the lenses thinned? I would be so greatfull for any advise please! And thank you!

    • It is so hard at that age to find glasses that don’t bother them. We had to do the elastic bands at first and then graduated to the cables (the ones that wrap around the ears). I have never heard of having lenses thinned and am not sure what the benefit would be. Lots of parents of little ones get sunglasses and pay for prescription lenses to be put in. Maybe that is an option?

      Best of luck and keep me posted!

    • Did you end up deciding what to do and wear to buy? I have to get some for my 9 month old and dont know what to do! Or where to go! suggestions?

  6. Hi Natalie,
    What is wrong with your little one’s eyes?
    It’s been a rough and frustrating road. We are now about 6 months down the line, 6 pairs of glasses and 3 opthomologist appointments later. In SA spec savers gives free spectacles to under 12’s which is wonderfull but they are limited to choices. So we went through all 5 pairs of their frames in 5 months. We then bought one of the rather expensive barbie frames and have had that replaced too. We have even tried contacts. We are lucky that my son wears glasses too so she is really good about wearing them, but she falls allot still and is clumsy and they break. The best advise I can give you is the following tips: The “arms” on the side need to be flexible. Our 1st 4 pairs broke coz when kiddo puts them on she stretches the arms out and they split. Then I got a nice comfy string for the back to keep them on her face nicely as they slide off despite numerous adjustment attempts. Or she takes them off and leaves them where the dog gets them and chews them – thus frames no. 5….. :-(. The barbie frames are nice and strong – but also – she fell with these one day and they broke too – no 6….. :-(.
    Sadly no matter how you look at it, kids and glasses are a “mission”. Find a strong pair that the arms can bend and a nice string to put them on. I let my baba help choose – it’s important they are comfy. Sam’s are pink and girly and her string has little pink sunglasses at the back too. We are hoping these will last a while now. There are specially made glasses for toddlers but sadly they are not too pretty :-(. It’s a tough road, Im not going to lie to you, but it’s for the best for your little one. The more comfy you can make it for them, the better. Your choice of opthomologis is also very important. Try find someone who specialises in kids and get more than one opinion. My son is now going over to contacts so Im getting myself a frame with normal glass in to help her still want to wear her glasses. It’s important they don’t feel “different”. Good luck! If you need any advise or just someone to chat to, feel free to contact me: Tashahoney@iburst.co.za I know what an emotional rollercoaster it can be!

  7. Pingback: A Kinder New Year in Glasses | A green living, green parenting blog

  8. Hello,
    The three kids you posted on this website wearing glasses for very farsightedness will they outgrow this? is it that strength for life??
    Kindly advise as I am in the same boat with my son.
    Many thanks
    Tina

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