Essential tips for children’s eye health and prescription eye glasses — tips from a parent that knows

You might not think you need to read this unless you think your child needs glasses, but I promise, it is worth it. I have learned some incredible information from various doctors, opticians, other parents, and eyeglass stores (like our new favourite eyewear shop I wrote about here, Auerbach & Steele).

I have become a bit of an unofficial glasses mama. That is, a mama that has had a child who needed glasses very early on, and therefore I have learned a lot on the way! Now I am the person many people message — friends and people I have never met even — to ask me about that first pair of glasses for their little ones.

I am so happy to help parents as a lot goes into this chapter. Some parents feel terrible guilt that their child needs glasses at all. I think this is more true for parents of very young children who need them. Or for parents who aren’t glasses wear-ers (yet) themselves. There is a feeling that your child can’t be as carefree, hanging upside down on monkey bars, or playing ball games without worrying about their new (and expensive) glasses getting damaged or ruined.

I was one of those parents. My daughter was three when I noticed her looking at the images in a storybook with her head at a funny angle, staring at it from the corner of her eyes, and squinting. I knew then there was a problem. It was not a straightforward next set of steps of an eye appointment, glasses, and all sorted! It was three solid years of very extensive eye exams every few months, patching her eye for a few hours each day, and convincing her (and myself) that everything would be fine even though it wasn’t fun, comfortable or easy.

That isn’t to say that it wasn’t totally worth it! Or that she had it worse than others, we met people who’s toddlers had eye surgeries, etc…

But what it did mean is that I became very aware of what it means to be a ‘glasses mum.’ So I really wanted to share tips to make anyone’s life easier so that you can focus on the fun chapter — because it can be just that. And actually, other kids soon wanted to wear glasses that didn’t even need them because, heck, my Beatrice made it cool. She rocked glasses, she rocked patches, she took it in her stride. And part of that is because I did lots of research, she had the very cutest glasses, and it is the most positive experience.

So what I want to share to make life easier for your first time glasses wearing child!

  • Do not wait to have an eye exam until your child can tell you they need one. First haircuts? First dentist appointments? First ‘what is my child’s height and weight?’ And first hearing appointments… why not first eye appointments. I say this because my daughter had the most amazing experienced Nursery teachers (5 in total) and not one of them noticed any problem. It wasn’t until she was tired, in the evening, that it was obvious, One eye was working hard while the other was getting weaker. By the age of seven, the muscle in one of her eyes would have been set for life, and by then it would have been incredible hard (if ever possible) to correct it! So please bring your children the same way you would just go to any Optician.
  • When trying on glasses, phone a friend … have a best friend ‘on call’ to help choose glasses or give them a confidence boost. Clearly that will really be the parent of a kid if they are younger. But peer support goes a long way!
  • Don’t talk about how they are vey expensive, or make them worry about the glasses being super precious. Do explain that they are lucky to have them, they are a tool, and they need to be treated with respect. Show them how to take them off with two hands, carefully, never place them down on the lenses side, to wash them and keep them sparkly as they are your window to the world, and, most of all…
  • Wear them proudly! They look great, they can see better, they should stand taller! This is their special superpower. Other children that don’t wear glasses often wish they could. When my daughter marched into school at four years old with glasses, instantly other children asked to also have glasses (that didn’t need them).
  • Get the community involved. Our teachers at the school were so excellent celebrating the glasses wearing girl. They even made a special presentation out of her glasses and eye patch. We told her that all the kids who wanted to could have one of her (stick on) eye patches, so they could see what it felt like, but also so they could play pirate in the classroom. This sword also helped complete the look, with a old school style handkerchief of course.
  • The joy they will show when they can see clearly is such a beautiful moment! Celebrate it! Love your glasses.
  • Glasses may make a kid look smart but find other compliments as well.
  • Variety is the spice of life! — choose 2 pairs if the child is under 8 yes old. It is good to have a back up pair, especially if your child is prone to breaking things.
  • Know that around age 7, children’s faces grow so you will need another pair of frames.
  • Always have sunglasses made once you are sure the glasses prescription is right. It is really important to wear glasses in the sun!
  • Having a great variety with fun colours and glasses that aren’t ‘speaking down to’ your kid, but elevating the look is the very best. It took me some real looking around but the Very French Gangsters brand is our absolute favourite! So chic! And the good news is that not only do Auerbach & Steele have a specialist children’s department, but also an amazing parent’s one too, so you can get an eye exam too (which I actually got for the first time 20 years)! Or in the case of may husband, also get new glasses that are long over due. The space is so fun, with contemporary state-of-the-art consulting rooms.

And now from the experts, which have taught me a wealth of important knowldege… here are Auerbach & Steele’s top Children’s eyewear tips:
  • Book your children in for an annual eye examination– it’s as important as taking them to the dentist every year.
  • Opt for frames that make your child feel good about wearing them.
  • Look for frames that come with safety lenses as standard for your children – ours do!
  • Ensure eyewear is properly fitted.
  • Specialist frames are available for sports but contact lenses can be dispensed too – always get advice from a reputable optician.
  • One in five teenagers is short sighted, with the condition usually starting between the ages of six to thirteen. Headaches and squinting may besigns of a problem with children’s eyesight. An annual eye examination means conditions can be identified and treated early.
  • Ensure your children wear sunglasses regularly. Children’s eyes are also far more susceptible to UV damage than adults because the clear lens in their eyes is not yet fully formed. This allows 70% more UV rays to reach the back of the eye, causing permanent damage. Wearing sunglasses regularly when young can prevent UV related eye issues developing later in life.

And as I mentioned before, if your biggest concern that they can’t be as carefree, know that worry will pass. In our case, once my daughter stepped out of our local Opticians the smile on her face went from ear to ear. She was singing a song she made up ‘I’ve got my new glasses on.’ Skipping down the street, and wanting to show off other local business owners we know her new spectacles. She saw the world in a better, brighter, and clearer way. 

She’s now a proud member of the glasses club. But she can see! And fortunately it was a small moment I noticed her squinting which lead us to this. So please have your children’s eyesight tested. And in the meantime welcome to the #glassesclub 

Enjoy and good luck!


ps Another post about glasses here.


Comments (3)

March 8, 2021

Thank you! Just as you promised I learned a lot that I should have thought about before, even though my daughter has never had an obvious vision problem.

Lara in London
March 10, 2021

Thanks Sarah! I am so pleased you learned things and found it useful. Please let us know if there are any other topics you are interested in hearing more about. x

June 25, 2021

This is good info! We went the route of Orthokeratology (contacts they were only at night) with our boys. But we have had times where we’ve thought glasses would have been a nice back up, and I know nothing about buying glasses!

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