I got my first pair of glasses (and contact lenses) when I was about fifteen. My vision was just poor enough that I was having trouble seeing the blackboard. (Incidentally, my know-it-all fifteen-year-old informs me that the use of the word “blackboard” is outdated. Teachers now use a white board or a “smart board.”) Both my teenagers squeezed past fifteen without needing specs, but last month my eighteen-year-old told me that the writing on the board was starting to blur. To my dismay, he hadn’t escaped my genes! Still, he’s fortunate. The doctor said he’s only a little nearsighted and could probably still pass a driver’s test without glasses. Nonetheless, he wrote him a prescription for glasses that he can use when needed.
I thought that vision problems were relatively rare in the younger years, but the National Eye Institute says that up to 15 percent of preschoolers may have some sort of eye condition. Normally, your pediatrician will screen for eye problems at your well-child visits and will be able to tell you if you need to take your little one to an ophthalmologist. An article in the September 2007 issue of Parents magazine says that the three most common eye conditions in childhood are (1) refractive disorders, which consist of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, (2) amblyopia or “lazy eye,” and (3) strabismus, which is an eye misalignment. These conditions are easier to treat if they’re caught early. My teenager was able to visit a regular ophthalmologist, but if you’re advised to take a younger child to an eye doctor, I’d recommend that you go to a pediatric specialist who will be experienced in working with little kids.
I remember being very self-conscious about wearing my glasses as a teen, but today’s kids seem to take it much more in stride (along with braces). I can’t wait to see what my son looks like in his new glasses! Even so, he’s not taking any chance of looking too “bookish.” He wants his girlfriend to help him pick out his glasses instead of me. I suppose I could play the old “I pay for them, I pick them out” card, but as he’ll be more willing to wear them if his girlfriend thinks he looks cool, I’ll swallow my hurt feelings and step aside. As CFO of the house, however, I’ll still reserve the right to veto them if they are too extreme. With my son's current “rock star” long hair, perhaps some sophisticated glasses will give him a more professional look as he heads off to college in the fall!