I got my first pair of glasses when I was 8 years old. Told by my elementary school's nurse during a vision screening that I should see an eye doctor for further evaluation, I was fitted for my first set in the fall of third grade.
They were lavender wire-frames that came with a quilted case covered in brightly colored illustrated cats, and they were totally amazing. And while I think my parents were worried that I'd have to deal with potential teasing at school (the classic "four-eyes" joke), as one of the first in my class to get glasses, I was way more concerned about picking out what I considered to be my latest fashion accessory—kind of like movie star sunglasses, but I got to wear them every day!
I never experienced bullying of any kind for my new look. I even remember thinking how silly it would be if someone actually called me "four-eyes." That was something that only happened on TV shows! Since then, I've grown to be a proud glasses (and sometimes contact lens) wearer.
I was interested, then, to read a recent Wall Street Journal article titled, "Does Your Toddler Need Glasses?" It discusses how, because of advancements in diagnostic tools, more children at even younger ages are being given glasses to help with early vision problems. This is good news, because eyeglasses, for very young children especially, can positively affect how a child's brain and eyes work together for the rest of their lives.
What's not good news: The fact that many parents of children with glasses said that "scrutiny from strangers is a frequent nuisance." One mother, Jessica Butler, founder of Eye Power Kids Wear, created a T-shirt that young kids can wear that says, "Yes, My Glasses Are Real." The reason? "After fake eyeglasses became a popular fashion accessory among some adults, many passersby would often assume that Ms. Butler was dressing up her son according to the trend, too," according to the article.
Another mom created a book called "Princesses Wear Glasses" after her 4-year-old daughter got her first pair and was upset because she didn't know any princesses who wore glasses.
It's not likely that every kid will be as elated as I was to get glasses, but besides feeling chic in my new specs, there was another amazing upside to the experience—one that I'll bet every one of these glasses-wearing tots will experience too: On the night we drove home from LensCrafters, wearing my glasses for the first time, I looked out of the window and exclaimed to my dad, "Everything is so clear! I can actually see!"
When to Worry: Eye and Vision Problems
Photo of girl trying on glasses courtesy of Shutterstock.