Parents and guardians need to be proactive in taking care of their children’s eyesight, including making regular appointments to see an optometrist. If you find out your child requires glasses, we have a few tips and tricks to help make the adjustment easier on everyone.
1. Get their eyesight checked.
The first step in protecting your eyes is having them checked regularly by an optometrist. This includes babies and children. Our doctors recommend having your baby’s eyes first checked between 6 and 9 months of age to make sure they have healthy eye and muscle movement and to evaluate their alignment and focus. A second appointment around 18-24 months of age will confirm the absence of eye disease and monitor your child’s growth. All children should have a third check before their first day of school to support learning, which can be impacted by sight problems. Alberta Health Care covers annual exams for children until age 19.
2. If your child needs glasses, have them properly fitted.
It’s not uncommon for kids to require corrective glasses. At our clinics, kindergarten children who require corrective glasses upon evaluation will receive a free pair through the Eye See … Eye Learn program.
A proper fitting can ensure that they’re comfortable to wear. They should fit your child’s face and not slide down. Regular adjustments will help maintain a proper fit.
Allow your child to participate in choosing their own frames. Kids’ frames tend to be sturdier and offer options like specialized sports’ glasses, added straps for security, and polycarbonate lenses for extra durability. Our optometrists can help you narrow down the best options for your needs.
Consider having a backup pair on hand just in case or an extra pair that your child can keep at school.
3. Teach your child how to care for their own glasses.
Depending on the age of your child, encourage them to take care of their glasses with age-appropriate tasks. This includes putting them on and taking them off with two hands to protect the arms, keeping them tucked away in a case when not in use, and properly cleaning the lenses when required.
Your child should wash their hands before cleaning their glasses, then use lukewarm water to rinse off any dust or debris. Gently rub a tiny drop of liquid dish detergent into all areas of the lenses and frames (including nose pads) then rinse thoroughly. Shake off excess water and carefully dry in a soft lint-free cloth like a microfibre cloth. Never use tissue, paper towels, household cleaners, or your shirt!
4. Set clear expectations.
Make sure your child understands what your expectations are around wearing and caring for their glasses. You may need to exercise a lot of patience as they first get used to them.
Start slowly, under the guidance of your optometrist, and gradually increase the amount of time they wear them daily. It may take weeks or even months to fully adjust. Be clear about when they should have their glasses on, like at school in order to support their learning success.
5. Keep the dialogue open.
Unfortunately, children who wear glasses may be at risk for bullying. Let your child know they can talk to you if they’re experiencing this and offer strategies to help them deal with bullies. It may help to get their teachers’ support to encourage a positive environment at school.
You can make wearing glasses a bit more fun by showing them pictures of celebrities or favourite characters who wear glasses. Decorate their case with fun stickers and make sure they’re labeled.
If your child is resistant to wearing glasses, it may help to focus on the benefits. Remind them that glasses will help them see more clearly and perform better at school.
6. Explore the idea of contact lenses.
As your child grows, switching to contact lenses may be an option. Many adults prefer contacts for their comfort and convenience, and these same benefits apply to children. Depending on their maturity, many kids can wear contacts as early as age 5.
Contact lenses don’t restrict their movement, especially if they’re into sports, and allow them to wear stylish sunglasses. Ask our optometrists if contact lenses are an option for your child once you feel they’re responsible enough to care for them. They might not be appropriate if your child is prone to eye infections or has certain eye conditions.
7. Be encouraging.
Your encouragement will go a long way in helping your child appreciate the benefits of wearing glasses. Be positive and find ways to make their glasses more fun. Throw a mini celebration when they get new frames and positively reinforce behaviors that show they’re being responsible and careful with their glasses.
While 7 in 10 Canadian youth are considered to have normal vision without correction, 30% require intervention for visual impairments. Visit our optometrists yearly to identify any problems with your child’s sight and to have their prescription and glasses reevaluated.
Take the first step in protecting your child’s eyesight by booking an appointment today!