Didn’t See This One Coming

In the middle of all the excitement of potty training, Lila had her 2 1/2 year checkup last week. It was actually kind of fun. Our pediatrician called Lila “awesome” when she told the doctor, unprompted, “I am happy.” And she called her “amazing” when Lila got not one but two shots without so much as flinching. (It was pretty amazing.)

But the doctor didn’t love how the eye exam went down. When I helped by covering one of Lila’s eyes while she identified pictures on the vision chart, she kept pushing my hand away. Then she correctly identified the bird in the top row, but then when the doctor pointed to a bird a few rows down, Lila said “Two birds.” “You see two birds?” the doctor asked, but I knew what Lila meant: She saw one bird up top, and this was the second. “But most kids wouldn’t say ‘two birds,’” the doctor explained. “They’d usually say ‘another bird.’” We tried again to put my hand in front of her right eye but Lila squirmed away. I told the doctor that I really thought Lila simply didn’t want my hand there, and she said, “I’m inclined to believe that, too, but let’s have her checked by an ophthalmologist just to be sure.” I couldn’t have been less concerned. I knew exactly why Lila reacted the way she did during the exam. In fact, when my husband made the appointment for yesterday at 5 p.m., it didn’t even cross my mind to leave work early to join them.

So it was shocking—and way more upsetting than I anticipated—when my husband called to tell me that Lila needs glasses. She’s farsighted in her left eye, and her right eye has been compensating (probably since birth, the ophthalmologist told me this morning). He praised our pediatrician for being “clever enough” to pick up on this, because without that eye exam, it’s not something that we would have figured out on our own. I’m so grateful to our doctor for catching this when Lila is so young. I also can’t help but feel a little disappointed that my instincts were off. I was so sure I was reading my daughter’s behavior correctly. Looking back, of course a doctor who performs pediatric eye exams every day would recognize a potentially problematic one when she sees it.

So on Saturday we’ll go get Lila glasses. One of the great things about my job is that within five minutes of hanging up with my husband yesterday, I had a small pile of all the vision stories we’ve done here at Parents over the past few years. I’m pretty sure I know the right material (titanium), frame shape (squarish), lens type (polycarbonate with reflective coating), and extras (spring hinges). But for all of you parents of little ones with glasses out there, I’d love to know any tips you want to share. What brand do you like? What features are a must for a toddler? How did you convince your child to keep his/her glasses on? (I have a kid who won’t even let me keep a barrette in her hair.) Is a strap better than covered earpieces? Thanks for any advice! And I’ll be back with an update once Lila’s an official glasses-wearer.

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  1. by Danielle D.

    On April 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Hi Kara –
    Just saw your post – I work with a optometrist and we see tons of kids all the time. Lila looks like a stylish little lady, I’m sure she will find a great pair of glasses. Here are some tips we recently shared with parents on helping pick the perfect pair of glasses. Hope it helps you and other readers who have kiddos about to get their first pair of glasses.

    • Picking out the “cool” pair – We definitely don’t want our children to get teased on the playgrounds for wearing glasses. Allowing your child to help pick out their glasses will ensure you don’t pick a pair that aren’t “cool” while also allowing your child to feel more confident about wearing glasses. Extra enticement may be found in ultra cool features like photochromic lenses with tints that darken outdoors, which may help inspire any child to want to wear glasses. Many manufacturers copy adult styles when designing children’s frames. Children may be attracted to these styles because they are more grown-up. It’s not unusual for kids to ask for glasses that look just like Mom’s or Dad’s.

    • Plastic vs. Metal – All children’s frames are made of either plastic or metal. Double bridges are found on all boys’ frames, while single bridges are unisex. Plastic eyeglasses used to be considered the better choice for children because they are durable, less likely to be bent or broken, lighter and usually less expensive. But now manufacturers are now producing metal frames that incorporate these same features.

    • Make sure the Bridge Fits – One of the toughest parts about choosing frames for your kids is that their noses are not fully developed and changing on a daily basis. Most children do not have a bridge to prevent plastic frames from sliding down their faces. Metal frames, however, are usually made with adjustable nose pads, so they can fit anyone’s bridge. Evaluate each pair your kids try on to make sure there are not any gaps between the bridge and the frame of the nose. It is important that your child’s glasses stay in place, because kids tend to look right over the tops of the lenses instead of fixing their slipping glasses. Children are constantly running and jumping around so they glasses need to stay put and so they can serve their purpose.

    • Spring Hinges – A nice feature to look for is glasses with spring hinges. Spring hinges can be a worthwhile investment on children’s eyewear. Kids are not always careful when they put on and take off glasses, and the spring hinges can help prevent the need for frequent adjustments and costly repairs. They also come in handy if the child falls asleep with the glasses on or just has a rough day at play. Spring hinges are strongly recommended for toddlers, who sometimes get carried away playing with their new glasses.

    • Lens Durability – Once you and your child agree on frames that you both like, the next consideration is the lenses. Children’s lenses should be made of polycarbonate or a new material called Trivex, because they are the most impact-resistant material around. In addition to being the safest materials, they also are lighter in weight than regular plastic lenses, a nice advantage for strong prescriptions. Polycarbonate and Trivex have built-in protection against potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, and the lenses are scratch-resistant coated by the manufacturer or fabrication lab.

    • The Backup Plan – We all know that accidents happen and usually at the worst possible time. Because of this you may want to purchase a backup pair of glasses, in case something happens to the primary pair and they are out of commission while being repaired. Having an inexpensive backup pair is more convenient then having to go back to the store to purchase a new pair.

  2. by Jessie Logan

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    My son is now 9 years old and been in glasses since he was 11 months old. He has what is called “esotropia”, where one of his eyes wanders out. He is actually mostly blind in that eye. When he was little we did glasses that had longer ear pieces, they went way behind and under the ear verses the strap. I was worried that he would be taking them off all the time too, but those glasses were good and he kept them on. Make sure to get the scratch resistance on them and the flex frames are nice too, as they take the abuse rather well. Now that my son is older we have done the transition lenses so he can have sunglasses/eyeglasses all in one. I’m sure your daughter will do well with them, it just takes some adjusting on her part and on mommy’s part too :)

  3. by Joleine

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    My daughter will be 5 in October and she has had glasses for over a year. Sounds like she had the same issues as your child, one eye was compensating for the other. The only reason we got her checked out was because both my husband and I have glasses,as does everyone in our families. I had read somewhere that it was recommended to get them checked at age 3 and before they start school.

    I was mortified when the eye doctor told me how bad her eyes really were. The way that we concentrate to thread a needle, was what her eyes were doing every day just so she could see!!

    We taught her right from the start that glasses were special and she was special to have them cause not everyone gets glasses. We went through many many pairs in the first 6 months. We had purchased them at Walmart. She now gets her eyes checked every 6 months, and has had slight, very slight changes. We started to purchase her glasses from Zennioptical.com, and she has had the same pair for over a year now. WAY cheaper and so much better than the Walmart ones.

    The eye doctor has assured me that her vision will correct itself as she grows. And eventually she may never need glasses again. Although the odds are stacked against her if you look at our families.

    We were extremely happy that we got her checked and I have had no issue with putting her in glasses. To us, it was a matter of when she would need, not if she would need them.

    She recently came home from daycare absolutely ecstatic cause Meyer (a boy in her daycare) now had glasses too…..and he was her new boyfriend BECAUSE he had glasses!

  4. by Shal JOhns

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    My son was just 2 when we discovered he was severly far sighted. The best they could get was 20/100 for his vision. I was a nervous wreck and worried so much about him. Guess what….it was harder on me than on him. He wouldn’t pick his glasses so we did it for him. But with him being so far sighted he needed the transitions lenses as the sun light hurts his eyes pretty bad. I spent the money for that to make sure he could see outside too. It only took about 2 days of putting his glasses back on him for him to realize how much better he could see. We had to go back in 6 weeks and they upped his prescription at that time. He just went back a few weeks ago and his prescription is a +4.50 and +4.75 so it’s pretty strong. I let him pick out his new frames this time. I did go with metal frames both times for him. His little sister is harder on his glasses than he is. He now never wants them off and knows to grab them first thing. I didn’t use any straps or anything on him, just made sure they were snug behind his ears. You can go to http://www.coastalcontacts.com and they run free glasses quite often and have really cute frames for kids. I got him a free pair for a back up. Good luck and remember it’s harder on us than it is them! At least that’s my experience.

  5. by Amy

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    My son has been wearing glasses since he was little. I honestly got plastic frames when he was little. They were more durable. I always buy them at Walmart. I love their breakage guarantee!!! I also never spend very much $$$ I can’t tell how many pairs of glasses I have bought in a 6mo time period because he lost them!

  6. by Jessica Cohick

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I am interested in reading the responses, since my 4 year old is scheduled for her first eye exam next month. Our story is similar to yours, in that, I reacted much in the same way, when my daughter read the eye chart. I couldn’t imagine she would have such poor eyesite at 4 years old, but I can’t say I am surprised either, since most of my family and my husband’s family wears some sort of corrective lens. Thank you for putting this out there, and getting ideas and suggestions! It will be very helpful, if we in fact need to purchase glasses.

  7. by Tonya Garrick

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    My little guy started wearing glasses at 2 yrs old, too. He did not like the strap, so the little hooks on the back worked better than us. Sometimes it takes going back a few times to get them adjusted right.
    While I was very nervous about it, the glasses helped him so much, he kept them on himself! We started getting the transition lenses, too….that’s “cool” because they’re magic!!;)
    Flexible frames, including the nose piece, and the transition lenses have been great for our son!!
    Best of luck:)

  8. by Jaime

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    My son was 2 when he had to get glasses, he is now almost 7 years old. I think moms have a harder time with the concept of a young child needing glasses, then the child does! My son loved his and we had no problems. He was proud of them and that was all it took. My biggest fear was him going to school and being teased, however things have changed since I was a child, so many children have glasses that it’s almost the norm. When he went to preschool he was the only one with glasses at first, and all the kids were upset as they did not have any, and wanted them too! My advice is to make sure you get scratch resistant coating and this year my son has transition lenses, as he found it quite bright when he went outside, with the sun reflecting off the lenses. And even though at first it seems like quite a shock and we feel like it is a ‘failure” almost, as OUR child has to be the one with a vision problem, it is just something that sometimes happens, no ones fault and it’s not a serious problem at all…it is really nothing, as you all will get use to it and it will be as if your child always wore glasses. If your child tries to take them off, there are bands for the glasses. Just make sure she sees that you think they are special and chances are it will all work out. Keep in mind that it’s better to correct things when they are very young and the eyes are still developing and besides I have never seen a little child that does not look so very cute in glasses!! :)

  9. by Kara Corridan

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Wow, everyone–thank you for the suggestions and camaraderie! So great to hear what’s worked for you. Jessica, good luck with your daughter next month!

  10. by Estell Bartgis

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    My daughter had to get glasses round about the same age, she’s now going on 4. Believe it or not, she’s never had a problem wearing them. I think, with kids that young, they realise how much the glasses help them see, and don’t fight it too much. Where we ran into a problem was patching her good eye so her “bad” eye would get stronger. Her glasses are an infant style, where they have the loops that go around the back of the ear. They’re also pink Dora glasses. Taking her to an eye doctor who specialised in children helped too, they seemed to be more patient and understanding. For example, they broke her initial exam in two parts and had us dialate her eyes at home, before we brought her in for the last part of the exam. I think the best advice i could give, follow your childs lead, don’t make a big deal out of it. Sometimes, as parents, we can make a big deal out of something that our children might otherwise not care about. For my daughter, the exam part was the worst part, it was scarey. For us, the worst part was her getting the glasses, which she could’ve cared less about. She knows they help her see better, that’s all she cares about. LOL

  11. by Ann Zawistoski

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    My daughter got glasses at 14 months. We noticed she was crossing her eyes around 8 months and brought it up at her pediatrician’s appointment. I totally expected that her pediatrician would tell me it was nothing. Instead, she referred us to an ophthalmologist.

    I was surprised by how upset I was to find out that my Zoe needed glasses, too. I wear glasses, I love my glasses, but knowing that my little girl would get glasses was really, really hard. I had no idea how to deal, and I didn’t know anyone else who’d been through that. Oh, I was worried about how she’d look, how I’d get her to wear her glasses, how I’d make sure I didn’t lose her glasses (given how many socks and hats we lose, I had no idea how I wouldn’t lose her glasses – but I haven’t in the 3+ years she’s worn them). Which is to say, you’re not alone in feeling upset about this. I’ve since met a lot of parents who have been through this and it’s made me feel so much better to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling upset – and then getting over it and getting her the glasses she needed so her vision would develop correctly.

    As for getting her to wear her glasses – distract, distract, distract! And be positive about it. We were advised to not make a huge deal out of the glasses (though our daughter is a little younger than yours), and to just put them on her, and expect that she’d take them off. And when she did, just put them back on with a smile and try to distract her with something she loves doing. I know a lot of parents have had good luck putting the glasses on when they take their child somewhere new, where their kid is so distracted by other things they forget about their glasses. But you can expect some fights, and when they happen, don’t make it a power struggle. Give your daughter a few minutes without glasses, and when she (and you) are calm, put them back on with a smile and try again.

    Another recommendation, if you can afford it, is to buy two pair of glasses that are pretty different from one another. There’s two advantages of this: 1) Each morning, your daughter can choose which pair to wear. That gives her some choice in the matter, even if she isn’t choosing whether to wear glasses, she can choose which glasses to wear. 2) If one pair gets lost or broken, she’ll still have glasses to wear. Plus, since they’re worn less often, they last a bit longer (though she’ll outgrow them quickly, too).

    One of the things with titanium frames is that they’ll have nose pieces. Those bugged my daughter a lot and were always getting bent and uncomfortable, so we’ve gone with plastic frames that don’t have the nose pieces. It puts the lenses up closer to her eyes, so they get dirty more quickly and fogged up when she cries, but they’re more comfortable for her. Just something to think about.

    I did write up a guide for parents who just learned that their young child needs glasses. I hope it’s ok to link to it, I hope it’s helpful.

  12. by moinca johnson

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Ou7 yr old just got glasses- she likes them. My huby bought one with tinted lenses for two hundred , I got her a back-up paIR at Walmart for just $38.000. Be careful if your kid takes them off for some reason- always put them in a case or safe place. Three weEks after our daughter got the more expensive PaIr, she claimed she was hot in the car so I let her take them off. We parked and the glasses somehow lANDED ON THE FLORR AND MY THREE YR. OLD STEPPED ON THEM….

  13. by Ann Zawistoski

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, and yes, huge kudos to your pediatrician for catching this and referring you, and good job to you and your husband for being on top of it and getting it checked out!!

  14. by Kara Corridan

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Ann, I love your tip to buy two pairs so that the choice becomes which pair to wear, not whether to wear them at all. That’s great. And another mom just told me about the drawback with the nose pieces, so now I really need to give that some thought. I’ll check out your blog too. Thanks!

  15. by Amanda Baker

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    My daughter has had glasses since she was about 5, she is now 9 1/2. When she was younger I always went with a wire frame because (if necessary) they could usually be bent back into place until a replacement pair arrived. As she had gotten older we have switched to a plastic frame because the nose pads give her headaches. I was hesitant to switch to a frame that would snap instead of bend when fiddled with (she has ad/hd and fiddles with a lot of things) but since we switched to plastic frames she has kept them on SO much better, probably due to the fact that the are not bothering her. I recently switched from a private eye dr. to walmart, the prices were SO much cheaper, the appointment was easier to get (same day) and the glasses came in 3 days. Having a back up pair is great, when she was younger I couldn’t afford an extra pair, so I kept the last pair she had when she got a new prescription. So at least she would have some help with her eyesight. Hopefully things go well with your little one. I am glad you got it check when she was young. My father needed glasses when he was a child, and his parents got them for his brother but not for him. Since hearing that story I have made sure my kids got eye exams EARLY!

  16. by Ann Zawistoski

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    The problem with getting her 2 pair of glasses, is that I got really jealous of my daughter’s choice. And now I want to have that choice in the morning! :)

  17. by Kim

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I can’t tell you which styles are best but I can tell you about how to get her to keep them on. Praise, praise, and praise. When referring to her cool new specs use adjectives like beautiful, smart, cool, grown up just like I’m sure you always do without them. Let her pick them out (even if you hate them) along with a cool case for storage. Reward her for every 2 weeks – month they remain intact. Try not get too upset if she loses or breaks them. She’ll most likely be upset enough about it herself. Good luck! Thumbs up for 4 eyes!

    Kim 32 y/o Bespectacled since 22 months :-)

  18. by michelle

    On April 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Hi:)

    My 5year old son got glasses when he was 3.
    my advice:

    take her

    i suggest getting the lightweights

    my son has metal rayban’s lightweight

    if she is farsighted, the glasses will be thick
    get round frames. If so,pay the extra few bucks to get them thinned.It makes a difference.

    dont put the glasses on her right when you pick them up.

    wait until the next morning and put the glasses on her before she gets out of bed, her eyes will re-adjust better :)

    She’ll be just fine and get used to them better than you expected :)

    Good Luck!

  19. by Randi

    On April 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I was cross eyed when I was born and had to have two surgeries at about 3 months, then started wearing glasses at 5 1/2 months. My glasses had wrap around ear pieces so that they stayed on and were hard to pull off. I now watch my one year old’s eyes like a hawk because of my eye issues.

  20. by michelle

    On April 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Also with the metal frames, they are really able to bend behind the ear so that they stay put.

    My sons glasses very rarely fall off.

    good luck Mom and daughter <3

  21. by Amanda

    On April 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    My son has been wearing glasses for over year. He is now 5. I let him choose his own glasses and he was very excited! He WANTED to wear his glasses because his cousin, mommy, grandma and aunt all wore glasses. Getting him to wear them was the least of my problems. We’re on pair #5 at $111 a pop. He broke the first pair. The frame is plastic, but he snapped them somehow. The rest of the breaks have been p.e. accidents, baby cousins getting ahold of them, etc…

  22. by Danielle P

    On April 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    My son was diagnosed with amblyopia a year and a half ago. We were shocked to hear that his left eye had stopped communicating with his brain. He was 20/200 in his left eye and 20/40 in his right. He was living in a blurred world and we didn’t even know it. It is fantastic that your pediatrician caught it. Ours didn’t. We found out from the school screening that something was wrong. He had to patch the good eye for a couple hours a day for a while and that helped. He will need glasses for the rest of his life.
    We let him pick out his own glasses, we did get a back up pair also, which he picked out as well. I splurged on his everyday glasses and got transitions which has proven to be a great idea! He never fought us about wearing them because they were helping him see. So he wanted to wear them. Now I am working on trying to get out awareness about amblyopia so that it will become mandatory for all preschool children to have a proper eye exam. If amblyopia is caught early it can be reversed with proper treatment. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amblyopia-Support/124816194227373

  23. by Terri E

    On April 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    My son also required glasses at 3, amazing because after he got them he said he no longer had headaches and his behavior improved in his preschool classroom. I decided against the strap more worried about him hanging himself on the playground. I would find that eyeglass place that either replaces the glasses or repairs them for cheap. He was so happy to see I did not have much problem with him after the 1st year. We have all the features you mentioned and I definately like the hinged flexible frames..we had most of our breakage issues with the rigid frames. We also did vision therapy for a few visits but it can add up. He is 6 now and I saw him for the first time with both eyes open without his glasses on, which to me means he is using his eyes together more efficiently. You can do your own vision therapy with every activites that require eye hand coordination. Good Luck

  24. by Linda Davenport

    On April 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Aaaaa, welcome to the wonderful world of kiddos with glasses! Please visit the site above for any and all concerns, created by a fellow “glasses mommy” it is truly a blessing and help for anyone just beginning this journey!
    Best of luck to you!

  25. by spclndsmom

    On April 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I found out that my son needed glasses right around the time he turned 2yrs old. We went with the best pair for his needs, Down Syndrome. Specs 4 Us makes frames designed for those with Down Syndrome. The bridge is designed to stay on their little noses. I have tried the strap, he does not like it. I’ve learned to make it a fun thing to put his glasses on, keeping them on is not so easy. The hardest part has been for me. Having to make multiple trips for adjustments, traveling outside our city limits to have done. The hardest part is/was having daycare be responsible for having him wear his glasses and hearing that the only time he wants to wear them is during circle time; which is aprox 30mins a day. So, the experience hasn’t been the best but we are still trying. Thankfully his vision is slightly near sighted and not as extreme as some, so I know I have a little more time to get this down. I guess that I too need some advice!

  26. by Brie

    On April 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I know how you feel. My son is 4 and got his glasses in Dec. 2010. FlexFrames are the best so far and make sure that you find out what there policy is on replacements, you will need it! Because they are gonna break. My son broke his the 2nd day. I had no problem with getting my son to wear his glasses because his favorite person in the whole world (his Papa) wears them. So if there is some that your daughter looks up too who wears them go with that approach. Good luck =)

  27. by Christa

    On April 12, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    My daughter was 6 months old when we noticed all of a sudden she began crossing her eyes frequently. We took her to the pediatrician who, after ruling out other health concerns (scary), referred us to a pediatric opthamologist. The dr determined that she was extremely farsighted and would need corrective glasses. At that point, I was just relieved that was the only problem we were faced with.

    I was a little frustrated with the selection of toddler frames at the stores and worried that the wire rimmed ones would cut into her face when she would inevitably fall while trying to sit, crawl, walk, etc. Finally, a good friend put me in touch with someone whose child started wearing glasses at a young age, too. Her daughter’s frames were flexible, sturdy and the cutest shade of pink! I went to the site she ordered them from – Solo Bambini (located in California) – and fell in love with the selection of frame shapes and colors. With some technical assistance from the owner over the phone, I was able to order the right size frames (I took the frames to a local on-site eyeglass store that made the prescription lenses for them). Each pair comes with a stretchy band and a cute carrying case.

    Because my daughter was almost 7 months old when she finally got her glasses, we started very slowly with the amount of time she wore them daily. It took about 3 months, but she finally realized they helped her see better. Now, she’s 18 months old, wears them all day long and even pushes them up if they slide off and can put them back on her face if pulled off. The band can be adjusted to help keep the frames on her face as she grows. We ended up getting two pair – in strawberry ice and watermelon red. She gets so many compliments in them and they really fit her little personality.

    I can’t say enough good things about this company and their customer service. It was such a positive experience for our family. We’ll definitely continue to order her frames from Solo Bambini as she gets older.

  28. by Becky

    On April 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    My 6 year old has had glasses for 3 years. He is farsighted and has a lazy eye we are STILL working to correct and are now doing vision therapy.
    First, for toddlers/preschoolers, I would highly recommend getting transitions lenses (the kind that turn into sunglasses in the UV light.). We initially got them b/c were using drops to blur the vision in the good eye in addition to patching and his eyes were therfore light sensitive. I will never go back–they are great for him!!
    Second, I would recommend getting frames with wrap around ears. They stay put on busy kids who are running, jumping etc.

  29. by Jessica

    On April 16, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I wish I had seen your post earlier. I don’t remember where I found out about this free government program… but it is a free eye exam for infants before their first birthday.

    http://www.infantsee.org

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