When the ophthalmologist says that a teenager has to wear glasses, parents brace for a future of broken frames, lost glasses, and arguments. Most teens who have to wear glasses full time balk at the idea at first, waiting impatiently until the day they can consider contact lenses. However, there are a few things parents can do to make the transition easier for themselves and their kids.
Let the child help pick their glasses. There was a scene in the movie Major League where Charlie Sheen’s character found out he had to wear glasses and wasn’t completely settled with the idea until he found a pair that was HIM. Teens are the same way, particularly if they are into sports or fashion. Glasses are currently a hot fashion accessory, even for those with 20/20 vision, so the smart parent will take advantage of this trend. However, the surest way for your child to decide either not to wear their glasses or lose them in a hurry is to buy a pair based solely on price or durability. No matter their age, your child needs to be a part of the selection process. After all, they have to wear them. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to buy expensive, designer frames for your teenager. Set limits, but be sure that within those limits there are choices. Do not accept “I don’t care” or “I don’t know” as an answer. Committing to a pair of glasses without your teen buying into it is just asking for trouble.
Point out the good parts of wearing glasses – subtly. The last thing a teen wants to hear is that glasses will help them see better — which is all that is important. When giving the choice between seeing or being without glasses, most teens would pick being without glasses. No matter the sudden trendiness of glasses, there is still a stigma of “nerd” attached to wearing glasses. While some teens will embrace this status, many will not. Therefore, parents need to remind their teens that getting new glasses is the chance to change up their look. Parents also can dangle the carrot of driving in front of a reluctant teen. To pass their driving test, drivers must be able to see and they have to pass an eye exam at the licensing center. Finally, it may help to point out that your teen will have fewer headaches and any other physical symptoms their poor vision may be causing.
Glasses don’t make your child imperfect or different than they were before needing them. Sometimes it is the parent who has a problem with their teen needing glasses. No parent wants to think that their child isn’t perfect; however, needing glasses isn’t the end of the world. Parents need to curb any of their own preconceptions about glasses as it is easy to project those feelings onto a teen. There is an old adage, “Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”, that seems to reinforce many of the stereotypes of those who wear corrective lenses. Teen girls are very self-conscious and hearing something like that only makes it worse. Teens whose parents make a big deal out of needing corrective lenses have a harder time acclimating to glasses and tend to refuse to wear them more than teens who feel accepted for more than their looks.
Consider contacts or Lasix surgery. For older teens, contact lenses or Lasix surgery may be an option. However, both come with their own limitations and care requirements which, many times, are far and above the requirements for glasses. Some teens, after switching to contacts, find that they are more comfortable wearing their glasses and switch back. Parents shouldn’t automatically rule out the possibility of contacts, but should impress upon their teen that there is a lot of work that goes into keeping contacts clean and wearable. Discussing the possibility of contacts or Lasix surgery with the ophthalmologist is always an option and her/his recommendations should be followed.
In our society where we do so much close work, such as reading on the computer for long periods of time or using the small screen of a smart phone, the need for glasses is becoming more and more common. However, for a teen, it still seems like a social death sentence. If parents provide support and a realistic view of the situation, they can help their teen understand that wearing glasses isn’t the end of the world and let them see the benefits of having those glasses.
Hailey Parker is a professional blogger that shares information on the latest clothing lines and apparel. She writes for Silvano, a leading provider of wooden accessories such as eye wear, watches, headphones and more.