I remember when I first found out that my daughter needed glasses. I had been an optician for around ten years, and had fit dozens of kids with their first glasses. No big deal, I was always sympathetic and helpful, caring and compassionate, and no big deal, right?
Then my daughter came home from school at the start of a school year, and told me that the nurse said that she wasn’t seeing well, and that she needed an eye exam. WHAT??? Sure, her mom was very nearsighted, but I had always had 20/15 vision, so my daughter surely had my perfect eyes? And if not, how could I have been blind to the fact that she wasn’t seeing well? In a word, it was pretty traumatic for me.
So we got her eyes examined, (yep, nearsighted like her mom) and of course I got her some very cute glasses. Back when I first started, there had been very few children’s styles to choose from, but the eyewear business had caught on to the fact that fashion was a huge factor in frame styling.
Since then that scenario has been replayed many times as parents bring their kids in due to a school referral, pediatric well child check, or just observant parents. In the process, I’ve learned a few things that might be beneficial if you find yourself with a child needing their first glasses.
First, don’t do what I did and project your own feelings onto the situation. Carefully observe your young one – some will be blasé, some will actually be happy, and some will melt down. If the latter is the case, it can be helpful to ask them if they have a friend at school that wears glasses. Knowing that they won’t be the only one in their class with glasses and that their friend wears them can be very comforting.
Be excited for them! It can be helpful if the doctor can “trial frame” a pair of glasses while you are there so they can see the improvement in their vision. Relate it to activities in their life – maybe it will improve their sports performance, or they will be able to see movies more clearly, or be able to read without getting tired.
Let THEM pick out their own glasses (within reasonable limits, of course). You may think they look particularly cute in that pair of glasses, but they may hate them. They are the ones that have to wear them, and they care what their friends and classmates think. Rely on the guidance of a Licensed Dispensing Optician to get a quality, durable frame that fits correctly, present several options to the child, and help them narrow it down to two choices, and then back off. Believe me, that will really help smooth out the process for everyone.
A quick word about lenses. Be sure to insist on Trivex or polycarbonate lenses for the best impact resistance in a dress safety pair of glasses. There has been some controversy about the suitability of changeable tint lenses for children, as it may make them more light sensitive when they are older. Ask your eye care provider about the pros and cons for your particular situation. If your child is engaged in sports, ask about sport-specific frames that are rated to provide maximum safety for that particular application.
Finally, you will be given a protective case and cleaning instructions and materials. Be sure to help your little one develop good cleaning habits that will extend the life of the glasses. Remember that they should be checked periodically for fit and alignment and that all the screws are snug and secure. So – sit back, take a deep breath – it will be OK. Glasses have never been as fun, acceptable or as durable for young wearers as they are now.
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