I have always had perfect vision — that is until I entered my forties and found it increasingly difficult to read small print. Funny how all text everywhere suddenly seemed to get smaller and lighter. It was a revelation when I put on my first pair of glasses: I could see!

Hearing that I needed them came as a shock and trying on pair after pair was an out-of-body experience. None looked right, the image in the mirror was of some freaky, alternate version of me, and I wasn’t at all sure I liked seeing hints of my mother staring back. I was conservative with my first pair: simple wire rims with rectangular lenses. It took months before I stopped doing a double-take every time I passed a mirror.

I was reminded of that today as I watched Sam try on pair after pair. We just found out he needs bifocals. Bifocals! Over the years, one or two people may have said it looked like he had a lazy eye. It was not something I ever really noticed and he’s always been such a great reader — I didn’t think it was anything serious. Then a few weeks ago, his new O.T. called and said she definitely saw it while working with him so I made an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist.

Bifocals for a 5-year-old? Turns out he has trouble focusing with both distance and up close and a pretty pronounced lazy eye. There’s a chance he could outgrow the need for them, but I feel awful that he’s been struggling all this time.

When we first got to the store, he refused to even look at frames. Then we found a blue pair and although he liked them, he refused to put them on. After much cajoling, he allowed me to hook them over his ears but as soon as he caught a peek of himself in the mirror, he covered his eyes. I knew, of course, he was seeing the same thing that I did the first time I tried on a pair: who was that stranger looking back?

Never mind that he looks adorable in them. Never mind that I’m told by my popular, 15-year-old stepson that no one teases about glasses anymore (really?), it’s hard not to worry — he is already so quirky, will he be teased for this too?

So yes, eventually he started trying on one pair after another, laughing at each new look. He did not like the simple gold and silver-colored rims the store manager was pushing. He called the pair we ended up buying his “Superman glasses”: thin black rims with a hint of blue on the sides.

Superman, indeed.


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  • Reilly got his first pair at 4, and Foster at 3. We knew Reilly had some depth perception issues, and since we were traveling to the pediatric specialist, I decided to tack on an appointment for Foster. I was shocked to learn that Foster’s vision at the time was 20/300! I!Had!No!Idea! His frustration levels and anger issues smoothed out significantly with that first pair. And Reilly! Reilly had a lazy eye, too!
    I never knew it until the doctor pointed it out to me!

    So – I guess I’m here to tell you not to be too hard on yourself. I was in the same place the first time we had the boys’ eyes checked.

  • Oh, absolutely been there. My son has been wearing glasses since he was five. And we also had little idea of how much he needed them.

    And I’m with your stepson. No one teases about glasses anymore. In fact, one of the “coolest” boys in my son’s grade recently got glasses and he was so excited!! I hear other kids were actually jealous. Things have defintely changed. 😉

  • My sister is a 4th grade teacher and she told me recently that glasses are cool now.

    So far I have not thought Charlotte needs them, but we’ll wait and see of course. My husband has been wearing them 2nd grade. And I’ve heard vision problems are genetic.

    I’m not 40 yet (close!) and I’m already dreading the upcoming need for reading glasses. I’ve actually found myself squinting here and there and holding paper a little farther away. Egads!!

  • I needed glasses at age 6. I fought so hard that I managed to put it off for an entire year, but by 2nd grade, I had those glasses. I put them on, and when we walked out of the store, I turned to my mom and said in utter surprise, “Mom! Look! The sign for the library (across the way) has words on it!” As we were driving home, I said, “Mom! There are leaves on the trees!!” I was genuinely shocked; I’d never been able to see them before. I still hated having glasses….but I loved being able to see.
    P.S. Your stepson’s right about the non-teasing – I work with kids and probably 50% of them wear glasses starting around age 5-6-7.

  • My son had to wear bifocals for a lazy eye too. He wore them a year and now does not have the problem. (there is nothing the docs can do to fix his actual vision) either way I think kids look adorable in glasses!

  • Little kids in glasses are super cute, I think. And you’ve reminded me that I want to take my munchkins to the eye doctor too.

    Good for Sam for adjusting so quickly!


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