What to do when your toddler or preschooler needs glasses?

If you have ever battled with a toddler, you know that it can be really hard to win.  I personally try to only take on battles that I am sure I can win, since admitting defeat to a toddler usually leads to bad things.  When I found out that my very strong-willed, active, and defiant 2 year old needed glasses, I was more than a little worried.  How was I going to win this battle?

readingPreparation– finding the right glasses and the right fit.

If the glasses don’t align correctly and stay in place, it isn’t fair to expect anyone to wear them.  If glasses help you see and are comfortable, most children will want to wear them.  So, I set out to find glasses that would fit my daughter small head and Asian face.

Brands-

Miraflex: The most common infant/toddler brand is called Miraflex.  I’ve seen a lot of children wear Miraflex frames over the years, and they are mostly sufficient.  They most important selling feature is that they are durable!  Additionally, they come in cute colors (there is more selection online than in  most stores), and they fit small heads and have a strap.  The downside I have seen is that they have no nose piece and end up held too close to the eyes for children without a typical nose bridge (such children with Asian features, children with Down Syndrome, ect.).  While I recommend this brand to many families I work with, it wasn’t going to work for my daughter.

toddler glassesTomato Glasses: After hours of on-line research, I can across a new brand of eye glasses for children made in South Korea- Tomato Glasses (they do have some distributors in the US, check the website for details.)  These frames had many of the positive features of the Miraflex brand, including fitting smaller heads, having a strap (although we had to sew ours shorter- it would be nice if they made a smaller infant sized strap), and being durable.  The Miraflex frames are one solid piece, so they are highly durable.  The Tomato Eyewear does have hinges, so this is less durable, but they have held up well for us.  The benefits of the Tomato Eyewear is that the length of the side bar is adjustable- the piece that goes around the ear moves up or back as needed for an exact fit.  The other huge benefit is that they have a nose piece, and it can be adjusted to 3 positions based on nose shape.  This allows up to get the glasses sitting firmly on her nose, securely over her ears, and the strapped in back for added support.  I was amazed at how well they fit!  She wears them for everything (except bath and sleeping), including gymnastics, playground, and all kinds of messy play.  Occasionally I see her re-adjust them after a somersault or tumble, but it is rare that they even get misaligned.

Winning the battle- When we introduced the glasses, we made a point that my child was not allowed to take them off (only an adult puts them on or takes them off).  We had her wear them when we could completely supervise and keep them on.  So, when in the car, napping, or playing alone, we removed them first since we couldn’t be there to control whether they stayed on or not.  After a few days, she learned to stop trying to take them off and ignored them.  We also took away any chance of taking them off and losing them, by making the strap tight.  The strap allows her to pull them down to her neck, but not off over her head.  If she pulls them down, we leave them for awhile, which annoys her greatly, so she quickly stopped her from trying.  The result, we win about 95% of the time, which when dealing with a 2 year old if pretty darn good.

Last note- I completely understand how hard this battle can be and how messy children get.  Children will wear glasses if parents consistently keep them clean and on their child.  It isn’t easy, but it is a parent’s job and it is a battle that can be won.  Vision is important to overall development.  It is hard to gain balance and body control if you can’t see well.  It is impossible to learn fine motor skills if you can’t see small objects.  Social skills also rely on being able to see others facial expressions and body language.  It may be easy to overlook since the child isn’t complaining, but the truth is they don’t know what they are missing!

What other parents are saying:

For a child with Down Sydrome

Noah’s Ups and Downs

A Place to Wonder

What other professionals are saying:

Little Four Eyes

A Child’s Eyes

 

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.