Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Contact Lenses for Children? Really?

A quick disclaimer about this post: I wrote it over the summer, but it has only recently been approved to be published on the blog.  In the meantime, Small Disgrace has started a new school year, and his new teacher really ‘gets’ him – glasses or not.  We are delighted and I'd hate this post to suggest otherwise.

I’m going to hold my hands up here and own up to something that I’d rather not admit to:  I did not take it well when I was told that Small Disgrace needed to wear glasses.  How pathetic is that?  While I’m here, I should probably also point out that I react similarly every time my husband takes him to get his hair cut and he comes back with it all short.  “He looks like a little thuuuuug,” I wail.  “Why don’t you just get one of his ears pierced while you’re at it?”

But glasses don’t make him look like a thug.  And I actually love a man in glasses, so why does it bother me so much?  Well, for a start, I was mortified that I’d never noticed that he had a vision problem.  He could spot an aeroplane when it was the tiniest dot on the horizon and had been able to read from a very young age, so when he spectacularly failed his 3 year eye test, I instantly felt like a terrible parent.  He needs glasses for anything that involves seeing close up, so has to wear them for reading, writing drawing etc.  When he’s at school, he wears them all day. 

I won’t lie:  I hate it.  He just doesn’t look like my little boy with them on.  He has these beautiful, distinctive, enormous blue eyes that are his very best feature.  He also has expressive eyebrows which suggest cheekiness and character.  When he’s wearing his glasses, you can’t see his eyebrows or his eyes properly, and all the character of his face is lost.  It’s not that they don’t suit him, it’s just that he looks nothing like himself when he’s wearing them.

Small Disgrace is one of the smallest children in his class and one of the youngest too.  He’s very well behaved at school and quite quirky, which is brilliant.  But I really didn’t want anything else to set him apart from the others.  Not that children see glasses as geeky these days – we’ve actually found the opposite, with all his friends wanting to try them on and asking if they can have glasses too.  There’s no danger of him getting teased because of them.  But there is a danger of him being treated differently because of them, and I see it happening all the time.  Adults respond differently to him when he’s wearing his glasses.  Last year, I got the impression that his (very nice) teacher didn’t really ‘know’ him.  He seemed pigeon holed as a slightly geeky, quiet, ‘young’ little boy, whereas in reality, he’s outgoing, cheerful, clever, mature beyond his years and mad as a badger.  Without his glasses, he seems to ooze his personality, but when he puts them on, he hides, and I’m getting so worried that he’s going to be perceived as something he’s not for the entire time he’s at school.  I even considered changing his school because it upsets me that my child is treated as someone he’s not.  But I can’t fault any of the staff, and actually, I’ve noticed that his personality appear to change when he puts his glasses on myself, so perhaps they’re just reacting to a character that he ‘becomes’ when he wears them. 

I thought that all of this made me an over sensitive, ridiculous parent, but when I was at Britmums Live recently, I got chatting to TV psychologist, Emma Kenny, who was manning the ACUVUE stand.  She told me a similar story about her son, who needed glasses from the age of 3.  She looked into other options and discovered that contact lenses are a suitable choice for many children.  I was quite surprised as I had never considered that this may be an option.  Her son has been wearing contacts ever since and has never had a problem with them and finds them easy to use.  It’s certainly made me wonder if they could be a good option for Small Disgrace (although from the fuss he kicks up when he has to have eye drops, I’m not yet convinced that he’ll take to something that he has to put on his eyeball…).  And if we try them, and he prefers glasses, then that would be fine – it would be his choice.  I just want what’s best for him – for his eyesight, for his self esteem and for his experience of school. 

I wrote this review while participating in an influencer campaign on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate


  1. My son (5) was recently prescribed glasses for TV and the whiteboard at school and I totally understand what you mean about him not looking like your son when he's wearing them. Fortunately I don't really see my son in them much as he doesn't tend to watch the TV at home (he watches the iPad which he doesn't need them for) but it's a fair chance that his prescription will get worse as both me and my husband wear glasses, so I'm sure it won't be long before he's wearing them all the time. I think it's great that glasses aren't the focus for teasing that they used to be, I had glasses all the time from age 7 and I remember it being very traumatic for me. Instead I have my younger daughter having tantrums because she's now the only one in the family that doesn't have glasses and she's desperate for some!

    I wore contact lenses from about age 13 which seems quite young to me, I'd not thought about them in younger children! Perhaps it's something to think about in a few years if his sight does get worse. I know how much it improved my confidence as a teenager when I was able to wear them.

    1. It's funny how now kids think that glasses are cool, isn't it? They all want to try my son's pair on!

      I'd never even though that contact lenses were an option for kids before I got talking to the Acuvue team. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. We might give them a try and see what he thinks, but if he hates them, I'd definitely leave it until he's a teenager and then see what he thinks.

  2. ahh he looks so cute in the glasses.
    My son recently had glasses due to a slight stigma in both eyes, and he has to wear the glasses all the time. When he first had them fitted, I almost cried! as you said, it didn't look like my little boy anymore...more like hank marvin! But now I've had a chance to get used to them (2 months on) I find it normal and weird when he hasn't got them on!

    1. you mean astigmatism..
      .you wouldnt like him having stigma lol

  3. But he looks so cute both with and without!! I have been advised to wear glasses off and on since my early childhood due to astigmatism but absolutely hate wearing them, they don't suit me and people actually laugh when they see me with them on! Maybe I should go for contacts but poking in my eyes is not my idea of fun at 44! X

    1. Why not get specs you like and that suit you?

  4. I have just posted a lovely long comment and it has disappeared - so apologies if it appears and I am repeating myself!

    I think he looks gorgeous with or without the glasses and it is very apt that you have chosen pics which characterise Clark Kent and Superman - he can most definitely be both.
    My eldest son has had to wear glasses since he was 2 1/2 and it was very traumatic for him. You will get used to the boy wearing them - now at the age of 22 (It makes me feel so old saying that one of my 'children' is that age!) my sons glasses are as much a part of him as anything else and in fact he looks 'funny' when we see him without them. Don't beat yourself up about not noticing he needed them - our Doctor told me my son had a squint at his 6 week check. I thought he was nuts - not realising it meant his eyes turned rather than him doing an awesome Clint Eastwood impression!
    I think it's fortunate that other children are now so much more accepting of glasses than they were when I was at school. Worry not...he'll be just fine

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