Do Your Kids Wear Glasses?

I know I’ve mentioned I have horrible eyesight. It’s 20/800, which I was once told is legally blind, but I don’t really know about that. I just know I should never be behind the wheel of a car without my glasses or contacts. Ben Blair also wears glasses, though his eyes aren’t nearly as bad as mine.

So it’s no surprise that half of our kids need glasses too. Ralph and Olive both wears glasses, and recently our youngest, June, has joined them. But it’s so different from my experience. Their prescriptions aren’t very strong, and they function just fine even if they’re not wearing glasses at all. For them, glasses are optional. They keep their glasses in a case in their backpack and use them sometimes, but not always.

I think of this as a blessing. They don’t need special eye gear for team sports, or skiing, or swimming. They don’t use prescription sunglasses. And they can avoid the world of contacts altogether. Perhaps their eyesight will get worse as they reach their twenties, but so far so good.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the attitude about glasses is different than when I was a kid. There is zero stigma about wearing glasses — in fact, they’re essentially treated like a cool accessory. They don’t feel like a big deal, or something to avoid, at all. And they don’t feel as “precious” either. I remember classmates being so worried they might break their glasses, worried their parents would be upset about having to buy another pair. But I think materials have gotten stronger and better, and prices have dropped. It seems like there’s less stress around wearing glasses in general. Would you agree?

For the teens and grown-ups at our house, Warby Parker has been the go-to glasses source since they launched, back when we lived in New York. But for little kid glasses, we’ve had to look elsewhere. So I was interested to receive an email from Warby Parker announcing that they’re experimenting with kid glasses now too. They’ve scaled down a handful of their most popular frames, and they’re offering them for a few months, only in NYC stores. I’ll be curious to see how it goes. Will their kid versions become a permanent offering?

If you don’t live in NYC, but are looking for stylish kid frames that won’t break the bank, there’s another source that keeps showing up in my Facebook feed called Jonas Paul Eyewear. They only carry kids frames, and they start at $79. Plus, for every frame you buy, they donate a pair of glasses to a child in need. I haven’t tried them, but they get great reviews.

What about you? Do your kids wear glasses? Are they essential or optional? Is it a stressful thing for them? Do you have a favorite source for frames?

46 thoughts on “Do Your Kids Wear Glasses?”

  1. My daughter doesn’t wear glasses. I do and my husband doesn’t so I guess her odds look like 50-50.

    I agree about kids today having a totally different approach to glasses than they did when I was growing up. When I was young the last thing you wanted was glasses. Worse than braces! Now, they don’t even think about it. And plenty of kids opt for glasses over contacts. That would never have happened in the 70s and 80s. Another demonstration of how great kids these days are. :)

  2. Zenni Optical is amazing. All three of my kids wear glasses, so I got each of them a pair of glasses AND a pair of prescription sunglasses for $120 total, including shipping. They love them. I did go and get the space between their eyes measured at a Visionworks first. I ordered some for myself as a backup pair later, for $26 including shipping. I like them better than my old ones and wear them daily.

    1. yes! Zenni has been my go to for awhile now. Gone are the days of spending $500 every 2 years on glasses and sunglasses! They are so cheap I get to be a little risky and buy something I wouldn’t normally try, too!

    2. Yes, Zenni is where it’s at in our family. 4 out of 5 of us wear glasses and Zenni has worked great for my husband (very bad eyes), my two young boys (have to wear glasses all the time now), and myself (reading glasses only). We did buy glasses for our boys at the store the very first time they got them so they could try on a bunch of pairs and figure out the best fit. And now, as long as we’re careful about making sure new pairs have roughly the same measurements, they seem to consistently fit great. I can buy my 10-year old a pair of glasses with a decently strong prescription and with transition lenses for $45.

  3. This is a really timely post, not because my kids wear glasses but because my own head is so narrow/small that kids’ glasses are often the only ones that fit me and I get so frustrated by the lack of options! I recently had to get new frames because I lost my old pair and there were exactly two styles of glasses in the entire LensCrafters that actually fit my face…and they were both atrocious. I am going to check out this link to see if I can find a better option for myself. Thank you!

  4. Three of my kids “wear” glasses. It’s a fight with the younger two to actually use them when they should, but with the light prescriptions it’s not a deal breaker. My freshman, whose eyes are quite bad, moved to contacts this year (along with getting a pixie cut and discovering the magic that is mascara – heavens growing up is fun and frightening) and loves not having something on her face.

  5. Both of our kids wear glasses – my 10-year-old son since age 4 and my 5-year-old daughter since age 2. The interesting thing, even though my daughter kid is adopted, they both have the same eye issue – amblyopia (also known as lazy eye). So, both have needed glasses and patching. My daughter also needs bi-focals – which are discussed more below.

    I agree – glasses don’t have the stigma anymore. They can be a cool accessory. My son picked out a red pair when he was 4 and has consistently gone for a classic rectangle lens in various colors. Our son favored Converse glasses – which we got through our health care provider. My daughter has classic bifocals – a line which bisects her pupil. She was 2 when she got her first pair – and promptly broke 3 pairs in the first few weeks. We then found Miraflex frames – which are AMAZING! They are indestructible and come in many styles – including the classic rectangular frame. She has them in pink, purple and red, and saves her breakable navy blue sparkly pair for “fancy” events.

    We originally got both kinds of glasses through our optometrist, but they have switched frames. So, we now order them through Amazon – both the Converse and the Miraflex – and have the optometrist put in the lenses. The Converse are usually $40-$50 for the frames, and are sturdy and stylish. Miraflex frames are $99, but they last FOREVER. And, having glasses that our kids wear is worth it to us.

    I also mentioned that the kids do patching. This still has a bit of a stigma. Kids ask all sorts of questions about if the eye is “hurt” or if something is wrong. We trained our kids early to explain that one eye is weaker and needs exercise, so the strong eye is patched. We don’t call it “lazy eye” – I just don’t like the term. We call it what it is – amblyopia.

    We also try to find cool patches. It was hard to find good ones when our son was little – we ordered some from the Frensel Lens Company, but he has tender skin and would make red marks around his eyes. But, for our daughter we found Ortopads. They come in cool prints, and some are sparkly (her favorite). And, they are sold by Amazon!

    After 5 solid years of patching, my son’s eye no longer needs it and he has avoided surgery. But, he will always need glasses. We hope for the same result for our daughter, but she may need surgery. We have to decide this summer, before kindergarten. It’s a bit worrying for me – does anyone have any experience with this?

    1. Guinevere in glasses

      Thank you for sharing these details. I haven’t had a good narrative to discuss my dd’s schoolmate’s patch, but now I do.

      1. My daughter has amblyopia/esotropia/strabismus, too. She had signs of it from an early age and has had prism lenses in her glasses for many years. She tried patching (instead of using sticky ones, we used a cloth one that covered one side of her glasses–our friend makes and sells them on http://wittystitcheseyepatches.webs.com/). She will always need glasses because one of her eyes is severely farsighted, and has astigmatism.

        When we finally got her to a pediatric ophthalmologist at age 11, when it was clear that the prism lenses and the patches weren’t cutting it anymore, he actually told us that the patching (in her case) was not going to make a significant difference. So she had the surgery done. She had immediate cosmetic improvement, but the problem is that her brain had been so used to ignoring one eye that it was too late to reverse that.

        So doing the strabismus surgery earlier on should help the brain recognize and start using the lazy eye more consistently. But it will likely have to be repeated in the future because as kids grow, that includes their eye muscles.

        The surgery itself is a relatively short procedure, maybe 1-2 hours depending on how many eye muscles need to be worked on. Same day surgery, sent home and their eyes are sore for about 3 days–they feel “sandy”–and then they just look bloodshot for a couple of months.

        1. Melissa, Elizabeth and Jenny – thanks for the encouragement!

          Both kids have the strabismus\amblyopia\esteropia combo. Our son we caught at age 4, so he patched for 5 years. He was legally blind in one eye when we started – 20/400. Now he’s 20/20 with glasses, and absolutely no crossing, so no surgery needed. :)

          My daughter also has astigmatism and hyperopia, and is both nearsghted, farsighted and has one eye that crosses. She’s had bifocals since she 2, and patched since 3. We were hoping to avoid surgery, but that looks unlikely. However, she rocks her glasses and they don’t slow her down at all. Gymnast since age 3, and riding a 2-wheeler without trainers since age 4. She’s our strong fierce girl!

    2. My daughter did patching, drops and glasses for amblyopia from ages 3-8. When she was in second grade, she had the surgery. The hardest part of the entire experience was the first few days after surgery and making sure she didn’t rub her eyes because they were, of course, itchy and irritated. It went spectacularly well and she has been fully recovered–no glasses, no wandering eye–ever since. She turns 18 tomorrow! I was hesitant about the surgery, but it turned out to be the right choice for her.

    3. My daughter had surgery for strabismus at the end of her kindergarten year and it turned out great. She’s already half blind due to a traumatic brain injury (stroke), so it was imperative that we do the surgery quickly before she lost more vision. Find a doctor you trust and don’t be afraid. Children are extremely resilient and heal quickly. Also, school-aged children are so active…you want her to be able to run, jump and play with the very best vision possible. Good luck!

  6. At age 3 in the early 1990s, my sister got glasses for strabismus and also had to wear an eye patch a certain number of hours a day for 5 or so years. My mom was so ultra-strict and neurotic about those glasses! I guess back then it would have been a huge expensive ordeal involving a drive into the big city to replace her one pair, whereas today our family would have ordered multiple pairs, with sturdy frames and scratch-resistant lenses much more suitable to a little kid.

  7. Oh man, this is my topic. My son had an eye surgery that permanently damaged the vision in his eyes. He now has to wear glasses 24/7. In the last year since he started wearing glasses he’s had three different pairs in an attempt to get him the right prescription.

    We started with Miraflex lenses which are basically bendable plastic that for the most part cannot be broken. They kind of look like goggles, and after some backlash from my family, when we got his second pair, we did metal frames.

    The metal frames looked nice, but for a five year old, they were impractical because they were constantly being broken and needing to be adjusted at the eye doctors almost weekly, and they were a huge pain in the bum.

    We picked up pair number three today, and although they’re not attractive, we’re back to the miraflex again because for a five-year-old that is rough on his glasses, it’s not worth it to me to be fixing glasses every week.

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

    1. Hi Paige! We are the family that choose Miraflex for our daughter after she broke 3 pair of traditional glasses at age 2 (see above). We love them!! Yes, the round ones look just like goggles, but we got the rectangle ones instead. And, there’s even enough room for her bifocal lenses.

      Check out our blog – http://www.liayf.blogspot.com. Plenty of pictures of her in glasses – super cute!

      Also, thanks to everyone sharing their experiences about the surgery. She starts kindergarten next year and is very active in swimming, biking and gymnastics. We have a great pediatric ophthalmologist who sees her 4 times a year. Her eyes have improved some, but may not improve more without surgery, so we will keep all advice in mind.

  8. Our 11yo has been wearing them for about two years and has had at least three prescription changes. We like the Ray Ban line that LensCrafters has. Our son’s prescription is stronger than both my husband’s or mine. We’re all near sighted.

    My son gets compliments all the time on his glasses from adults. I wonder sometimes if they are trying to over compensate for the stigma from their own childhoods.

    He’d love contacts, and I miss seeing his whole face, but it will probably be a few years till he’s ready for the responsibility of caring for them. We had to get adult ski goggles last season to fit over his glasses. This summer I’m ordering prescription swim goggles. We love to snorkel but prescription masks are very pricey. If his prescription was more stable, I’d do it though.

    I am wearing a pair of Warby Parkers right now but l normally wear contacts. I really dislike the feeling of waking up and not being able to see. It feels too vulnerable. Plus we live in the PNW and there is so much rain.

    We weren’t too impressed by the frames with Jonas. I really loved the idea of the company but none if the frames were winners.

    1. I don’t know if this will help you, but my son has strabismus, so he’s in glasses 24/7, bi-focal to be exact. His ped opthal recommended AC Lens (online) for swim goggles. We do single vision for this at his suggestions (because the actual time worn is really so minimal in the grand scheme of things) and I pay $36 for the goggles. I don’t know if they sell masks, but it may be worth checking. I get him new goggles every summer because they do get banged up, but for $36, I really don’t mind the expense. Good luck!

  9. I’ve worn glasses since 5th grade, with contacts for most daylight hours since 9th. I was so shocked when my much younger sister bought herself null glasses to wear JUST FOR FUN, in a high school no less. But then.. they were way cuter than anything I could have gotten as a kid.

    One thing I was told by my opthamologist that totally gave me permission to never care about how my glasses look… contacts help preserve eye strength. When you wear glasses, you move your head instead of your eyeball, so you slowly lose the ability to move them independently. And your brain stops trying to process peripheral vision because the lens doesn’t work for that perspective. That was how he got me on contacts long before my mom was ready to let me try. I have these moderately ugly Oakley glasses that fit so comfortably and stay on without pressure points for the rare days I have to wear glasses. No reason to try cute ones if no one ever sees me in them. ;)

  10. Thanks so much for the recommendations! My kids don’t wear glasses (yet), but my head is so small that I wear kids frames. It was embarrassing the first time an adult store referred me to the kid store, and I walked into the kid store to find myself the only adult trying on frames!

    1. My husband has a small head, too. He has had good success with ‘frameless’ glasses because they can customize the size of the lenses to fit his face. Might be worth a try…

  11. One son started wearing them in 3rd grade and the other son in 2nd grade. For my boys the simpler plastic frames last better than the wire frames that are supposed to be more “child-proof”. The optician’s mantra is “When they are not on the face, they are in the case.” We pay more to buy ours at the local eye doctor but the office is five minutes from our house and they are great for adjustments and replacements. I think my now 12 year old would be interested in contacts but freaks out about touching his eyes. I told him I will not be helping him put in/take out contacts so he will need to get over that fear. I’ve worn contacts for 25+ years at this point so touching my eyes is a non issue. :)

  12. I really don’t think it was ever a matter of “stigma.” I never wanted to have glasses, although it was genetically a no-brainer that I would need to, and I was eager to switch to contacts as soon as I had the chance. But really, “stigma” had nothing do to with it. (1) It’s uncomfortable and inconvenient to have to wear a fragile, rigid object in front of your face all the time, and (2) whatever all the people who don’t have to wear glasses say, nobody – NOBODY NOBODY NOBODY!!!! – actually looks better with glasses on, whatever your 20-20 friend kindly tells you about how fashionable and trendy your glasses are. Human faces simply look better without large artificial panes of class stuck in front of them.

    1. I disagree there… Some people do look better with glasses on their faces. This is mostly true for people with plain, structureless faces, as glasses add structure and dimension.

      1. Personally, I don’t know if I look better with or without my glasses, but I can definitely tell that wearing glasses brings out different parts of my face than without. *shrug*
        In the end, I suppose it’s all about personal preference.

    2. Dear Anna,

      Many of us have children who have to wear glasses to save what is left of their eyesight. I know from belonging to this community that many of us also mourn that our kiddos “lose the look of an unadulterated face without glasses” (or artificial planes of glass) as you put it. Your opinion that no one (NOBODY) looks better with glasses on is an opinion, not a fact. There are amazing glasses out there and I do really think that the right pair or glasses can indeed enhance and/or not detract from someone’s face. I don’t feel what you have added to this conversation is kind or helpful. I love my little boys face with his glasses on and I’m so incredibly lucky to like during a time when the technology exists to treat his condition!

  13. Our daughter has worn glasses since she was 15 months old. Last year we discovered that Amazon has prescription swim goggles for kids for around $10. She used to hate being in the water without her glasses. After getting the goggles, she learned to swim!

  14. Two of my daughters ( 7 and 10) have worn glasses since 4 years old. We love the twist frames. Sturdy frames that allow them to learn how to be responsible with their glasses and let them be kids.

  15. I’ve heard great things about Zenni!

    My youngest got “all the time” glasses two years ago – just after she turned five. She has a pair that we got at the eye doc that she wears most of the time. She also has a pair of Funoogles that she wears when she wants to match her outfit. The Funoogles are modular – you can change out the temples and add on one of three front frame clips: eyebrow, full, or outline. All four parts come in many colors, so the combinations are practically endless. My oldest daughter has reading glasses. This year, she chose Funoogles for her new frames. She loves being able to coordinate with her sister or just change the look to match her mood.

  16. When she was about 3, I noticed my daughter’s eyes crossing a bit, but my husband told me that was normal (it may be in babies, but not toddlers!) She also had really lousy depth perception, but could otherwise see fine, as far as we could tell. Finally in kindergarten, she had an official eye exam and it was discovered that she had farsightedness and astigmatism so badly in her left eye that her brain had started to ignore it (causing it to drift inwards and cross) and she was only seeing out of her right, relatively good eye. So she was diagnosed with amblyopia/strabismus and failure to sync–eye muscle problems–on top of her not being able to see clearly. I felt terrible!!

    Prism lenses in her glasses have helped a lot but she had to have strabismus surgery a year and a half ago at age 11–many years later than we probably should have done but our optometrist didn’t push for it. She will have to have the surgery repeated as she is still growing and her eyes have already started crossing again. But since the surgery, she was able to use 3D glasses for the first time and actually have them work! She was amazed.

    By the way, there is a big difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist! If you have complicated eye issues, go to the latter!! I wish we would have gone to one sooner!

  17. We currently have a Jonas Paul “home try-on kit” sitting on our kitchen table. This has allowed my son to try 7 different styles over the course of a week, so there’s a lot of time to decide. It was $1 for the home try-on kit. We are excited to have 4 frames that look fantastic on him! Now we have to choose!

  18. I wear glasses and luckily I looks better with glasses :) My kids have not worn glasses yet but with their use of phone, tablet and TV as now, I think they will need a pairs soon :(

  19. My Hubby has horrible eyesight–I have a slight prescription that I wear all the time to avoid eyestrain and headaches.

    So far, only one of our kids has glasses, and her prescription is also very slight. We had a horrible time with her breaking glasses last year, and she wasn’t even doing stupid things with them! Just normal kid stuff… like playing with her brothers and her brother sitting on her face. You know. Normal stuff. :p

    So, this year she has some sturdy metal frames from the doctor’s office that cost $30 with insurance. Anything else she might need will come from Zennis.

    I love Zennis for kid glasses as well as my sunglasses.

  20. What a timely post! We picked up glasses for my four year old son on Monday. Question for other moms who have young kids with glasses: yeah or nay on the strap? And where do you get them?

    Our optometrist didn’t have any and I can’t figure this part out!

    1. My daughter was barely five when she started wearing glasses (she just turned seven). We never used a strap and she’s always done fine. I’ve heard good things about Stay Puts, which I’ve seen on amazon for under $5, but we haven’t ever ordered them, either.

  21. After almost 20 years of wearing mostly contacts, I got laser eye surgery last summer. I was not a candidate for Lasik, so I got something called PRK, which has a much longer recover time. Usually they do one eye at a time, but for various reason I decided to do both at once. It was pretty intense recovery, particularly because my eyes were insanely sensitive to light for weeks afterwards (and it was August in NYC!). I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone who had a good alternative, but my eyes were slowly rejecting contact lenses and I have never been able to achieve good vision in glasses (I think it had to do with the large difference in prescription in my eyes and astigmatism in the less near-sighted eye) so I basically decided it was now or later. Waking up every morning with perfect vision feels like a superpower!

    My husband and I have both worn glasses from a pretty young age, so our kids will probably need them, but I’m hoping that they will be able to find comfortable glasses and eventually switch off between glasses and contacts, which I think is probably better for the eyes overall. I think glasses can be a really cute accessory, but it depends on the outfit/look/person.

  22. We love Jonas Paul Eyewear at our house! They are so quick and have excellent customer service (not to mention the most adorable kids frames!).

  23. Try out Coastal.com too. I got a pair of frames and lenses for $35 with free shipping. They often have buy one get one sales.

  24. My daughter has worn glasses since age two and had strabismus surgery. It is so hard to find glasses that fit young kids that are stylish! And I hate rectangular frames for kids, the kids look over the top and not through the lens! We have Jonas Paul glasses right now and they have been great! And occasionally we have also found cute frames at Costco.

    1. I also dislike when glasses don’t fit properly and kids look over the top – ugh!

      Oddly, the rectangular glasses have worked well for my kids. We make sure they are fitted well – temple measurement as well as stem length and curve – so that they fit snuggly and comfortably and don’t slide down the nose. This was especially important for my daughter, as she had bifocals and was 2, so they needed to fit perfectly.

      Otherwise, what’s the point in having glasses if they don’t look through them?

  25. Both of my parents wear glasses and so do all of their three children. My brother is legally blind (without correction- he can see with contacts/glasses), and my dad, mom, and I are pretty close. My sister thinks her eyesight is terrible but compared to the rest of us, she can see quite well! One of the biggest problems for our family was the fact that many health insurance companies don’t cover eye doctor visits/contacts/glasses. My siblings and I all started wearing glasses around 3rd grade and contacts in 7th grade (when we started school sports because not having to worry about glasses breaking) and with 5 of us wearing glasses and contacts it was quite expensive. My brother has had trouble finding glasses that don’t look terrible because even when he pays for the extra-thin glass, his eyesight is so bad the glass is still quite thick and won’t work with a lot of frames. He finally got a pair from Warby Parker and they’re much better than the ones he had before! I need a new pair but can’t figure out what style I want.

  26. My daughter is 5 and has been wearing glasses since she was 15 months old when we noticed a change in her left eye in photos. She needs glasses to see distance clearly and to correct the different strengths in each eye. Without them not only are objects in the distance fuzzy but she runs the risk of developing lazy eye.

    To date she’s been wearing Kids Bright Eyes glasses. Flexible plastic frames with strapes. We tried wire frames at first but she hated them. I’d highly recommend Kids beight Eyes for toddlers – they’re durable, come in cute colors and the straps help little ones keep the glasses on their face.

    I’ve started looking into frames without straps but I’m not in love with what I’ve seen so far.

  27. Our kids do Orthokeratology or Ortho-K. Hard contacts at night, 20/20 vision during the day. Helps to slow down myopia long term as well.

  28. Maria Westfried

    Does anyone have advice about Ant-scratch lenses?

    He has Miraflex and “thin and light” lenses. After 3 weeks the glasses had scratches one day that the lenses needed to be replaced…

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