My 3 Year Old Needs Glasses

Updated on June 21, 2011
V.B. asks from Pompano Beach, FL
18 answers

Hi Mamas,

I took my 3 year old to the eye doctor today because he was showing signs of not being able to see (squinting A LOT, standing RIGHT in front of the TV, and when you read him a book, he would have his face so close to the page, you couldn't see the words to read it to him). Needless to say, he is extremely nearsighted and is getting glasses. My question is, since he is only 3 years old, does he need to wear them any time he is awake? He just turned 3 a few weeks ago and it seems unrealistic to me that he could keep them on all day long, but if he needs them, then he will have to learn. Does anyone else have such a young child that is wearing glasses? I don't actually wear glasses, so I don't know a whole lot about it other than I know people (such as my husband) can't see without them. This whole question probably seems pretty obvious, but I just wanted to see if anyone could give me some insight. LIke, if he's playing outside riding his bike, etc. does he need to have them on? Again, just looking for some of your experiences. Thanks in advance for your time and advice.

If this is relevant at all, I think his prescription is something like -5 in one eye and -6 in the other (I'm told this is pretty bad, especially for a child his age).

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of your responses. My insurance paid for everything (with a $25 copay) including the polycarbonite lenses and the transitions so that he can be outside and his eyes will be protected. They are wire frames, but not sure if they are the memory frames. The selection in his size was rather small because his face is so tiny. They just don't make much in his frame size. I'm sure we'll end up buying another pair out of pocket if something happens to these, so I'll keep these other suggestions in mind. You all made me feel much better about this. I was pretty sad about it since his prescription is so bad and it took me this long to get him checked out, but the bottom line is that he'll be able to see soon. Yay! Also, kids can be so cruel and I'm just hoping that he won't be teased endlessly. I think it will help to have them from a young age since there will be more curiosity than ridicule this young. Again, thanks so much. I'm just happy that he will be able to see now and I think he's going to be downright adorable in his glasses! :-)

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answers from College Station on

Trust me, once he discovers that he can SEE with the glasses on, he will have no trouble keeping them on!

Yes, all the tine for all activities (except swimming, unless he doesn't put his head in the water) he will need them.

I recommend going with the memory metal frames. They last longer and can usually take all a kid can dish out. My oldest is terribly near sighted and we got him transition lenses so he wouldn't need sunglasses. They are expensive, so maybe not for his first pair. They also have frames especially for the littler kids that wrap around the ear, making it hard for them to take off.

There are lots of rules and regulations on kids glasses so things that you get charged for as an adult, they HAVE to include in kids glasses- like polycarbonate lenses ad such. Oh, and GET THE WARRANTY. It will save you a fortune in replacement costs.
Good Luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My oldest son had glasses at age 5, and has done just fine with them. My daughter came home from Ukraine at 3 and got glasses two weeks later. We knew she needed them, she had crossed eyes and also has cerebral palsy, which often comes with farsightendess. She also has off the charts astigmatism. Anyway, at 3, being a non-english speaker and going right into glasses after coming home from Ukraine, she did just fine. Once she learned she could see, she was great with them.

Thats not saying we haven't had them adjusted a million times in the last 8 months. :) Be prepared for lens replacements, adjustments, and reminding him to push them up and wear them right. We did use one of the behind the head sports bands for a fe wmonths until she really got used to them.

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answers from Seattle on

Absolutely. Otherwise it's like filling a pair of goggles up with water and walking around all day looking through water. I'm -5 in one eye (-4.75 in the other), and I can see BETTER underwater than I can without my contacts in. Just try it to see what it's like (of course, without goggles on). That level of blurry is what you're looking at.

Speaking of goggles...

They have a style of toddler glasses now that are rather like snow goggles or swim goggles. They're flexible framed and go all the way around their head (to stay on securely through rough and tumble play). Just google toddler glasses and you'll see the style pop up.

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answers from Honolulu on

Sear's has kids' glasses, of all kinds.
I would go there.
Fair prices too and return policies.

I have glasses for both seeing far and near.
But anyway, I only use my glasses for when I read or do things like that.
I can see far, pretty well, its just a tad blurry. But I use my glasses for driving.

So, your child is far sighted. He can see far. Not near.

I sometimes just use reading glasses at home. Because I am doing things which is nearer to my eyes, like now being on the computer.
But I don't use them all the time. Just when I need to.

If you have glasses to see near, then when you have them on and are looking at distances... it may make it blurry.
It does me.

So I have prescription glasses, to see far and near.

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answers from Houston on

A friend has bad eyesight and wears glasses (her eyes did not take well to contacts). Her daughter began wearing glasses in kindergarten and had to wear a patch for several years to strengthen one eye. She got contacts in HS. On occasions she has to wear glasses and you can see which eye is weak. Her younger son started wearing glasses at 18 months. He has contacts now that he is in HS.
My husband wore coke bottle lens until he had Lasik, now he has computer glasses and reading glasses.
Because of this, I had both of my children checked at preschool ages by a pediatric ophthalmologist. My daughter needed reading glasses for a year or two, but that was all.
My brother got glasses in 1st grade. He was asked if he could see the chalkboard in several occasions, which he could, but the question was finally asked, can you see what is ON the board, NO. The minute he put the glasses on, he talked NON-STOP about all that he could NOW see.

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answers from Redding on

I started wearing glasses when I was 6. My husband got his in about 4th grade. Both our kids needed them at young ages too. They usually give small kids the kind with wires that wrap around their ears so they stay on better and its smart to get a set of croakies,, (the strap to go behind their head too.) We are all near sighted and we wear them from the instant we wake up until we lay down in bed at night. They wont be just for reading or watching tv. he will wear them all the time probably. When he gets older he may want contacts, like my kids have now. My son rarely lost or broke his glasses, but our daughter seemed to break them every few months so we bought the replacement plan offered. So check that out if its available. You need to make him understand how important they are to him, and they are not to share or give to friends. They arent toys and he shouldnt play games with them. My daughter made friends line up and as she was swinging, she threw them to see how far they could fly across the playground! made me crazy!! Its no big deal to wear glasses, but its a huge deal to be able to see!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Responding late... but. My daughter just turned 12 and has been in glasses since before she could talk (@10months, she has nystagmus plus low vision). She just recently got bifocals - which all her friends thought were amazing. lol

First thought is that yes, let him have his glasses the moment he gets up for the day. If they are the right prescription you won't need to fight with him - If they work he will WANT to wear them. If you are still fighting to keep his glasses on, take him back tot he doctor and have his eyes rechecked, the doctor will need to tweek the prescription a bit. The glasses should have at least a 30day guarantee on them, at least most places will for a short amount of time.

Second thought, yea kids can be cruel. My daughter hasn't had really any problems with any of her class/schoolmates. Everyone just accepted her wearing glasses for just that. But I have gone over (and over) some pretty good comes back to possible teasing. The old "four eyes" comments can be replied with "What? Did your grandma teach you that? You need to be more creative." to "Wow you sure seemed cool until you opened your stupid mouth." But really she hasn't had anyone whose been rude to her. Glasses seem to be much less stigmatized now - then again most schools now have anti-bully programs, so most kids are pretty compassionate.

Last thought: as far as the frames for the glasses go... if your willing/able to, shop around. Our vision insurance isn't tied to our health insurance so we can so places like lens crafters, pearl vision, ect. The last several years I've gone to the vision place at my local walmart since we go to walmart about one a week or so anyways. What's really nice with that is when my daughter's frames start to get crooked from her taking them off one handed or if she gets bumped at school, all we have to do is take the glasses in and ask them to "reset" them on her face. We buy the insurance too that lasts a year just in case the glasses happen to get broken somehow.

And as she's gotten older, I've found its best that she had two sets. That way if her prescription changes (and it has about every two years or so) she has one set to wear while the other set is being changed, then after a month or so we go and change the second set. Also if one gets broken or misplaced (which has happened!) she still has the back up.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the others who have said he will probably want to wear them all the time, once he realizes that he can see! My eyesight was almost that bad, until I had Lasik surgery at age 43, and then I could miraculously see without glasses!

I also wanted to share a site that sells glasses for about $20 or less a pair. You just need to have the prescription from your doctor, and the measurement between the two pupils (called the PD). It is Zenni Optical

Several of my friends have ordered glasses from this site and been pleased with them.

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answers from New York on

I don't wear glasses either but if his vision is that poor without the glasses I think he will see so much better he will wear them on his own. My dad is like that--he got glases as a kid (maybe 5 or 6ish) and always wears them. There is 1 picture of him with them off out of hundreds and in it he looks like he can't focus! Get sturdy frames, maybe with an elastic strap so he can still run around and be a kid. You might want a spare pair too or a repair/replacement plan for them.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My nephew began to wear glasses at 4, his eyesight was very bad and he has astigmatisms, and was told to wear them all the time. He was very self-conscience of them, but when someone at preschool asked if she could try them on (teacher said no) he suddenly became cool : ) He's going to be 10 next month, my sister now buys them at Walmart, 2 pair at a time, and found they are the same quality as they were when she went to an expensive optometrist our family had gone to for years.

He no longer has to wear them all the time because he wore them as much as he did when he was younger and his eyes have improved some. She said to ask his doctor specifically when he is to wear them, and to follow that advise.

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter got glasses at age 4. My advice is, buy several pairs at Walmart. Guaranteed he will lose/scratch them immediately, so it's best to have some backup pairs!

My daughter loves her glasses ("I just think it's so great to SEE things!" she says). She even wants to wear them to bed (I sneak in once she's asleep and take them off of her :). I can understand it - I wore glasses for a long time (and then got Lasik, hallelujah), and being without my glasses was hard. Your son will probably want to wear them all the time, and will forget he has them on.

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answers from Philadelphia on

i think it depends on hwo bad their sight is. My daughter was 3 when she got glasses (almost 2 years ago) and she can see with and without them but is farsighted so her eye strains and turns in slightly when reading up close...thwy wouldn't have given her glasses if her eye didn't turn. During the summer, while playing in the pool she doesnt wear them but pretty much all of the time, although lately shes been asking for breaks......Glasses galore and lenscrafters and walmart allhave tons of kids frames,get him to pick a pair he loves and he'll be excited to wear them, and then once the excitement wears off he'll realize how much they help him to see and want to for that reason. I have to admit I have encouraged one or two mini glasses breaks during pic time...she looks cute with them but they tint outside (another easy way to get him to wear them get the ones that turn to sun glasses) so you can't get pics of her eyes with them on outside

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answers from Houston on

My sister wore glasses at that age and I don't remember it being that big of a problem. I think little kids with glasses are absolutely adorable! I think if you have him wear them most of the time he's awake, it will be fine. I would definitely have him wear them when playing outside, that way he can see what he is doing and is safer. Kids can make fun of other kids no matter what so I think you have the right idea to educate as you go, I'm sure it won't be an issue.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Our daughter has had glasses since she was very young as well, she's now 10. She has worn them for everything and all day. She doesn't take them off to play or for sports or anything. If his sight is that bad he needs to be wearing them all the time. Taking them off and on all the time doesn't help their sight either nor does it help them to adjust to them. He needs to learn to wear them in every situation.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Yikes. Yes.
I had a friend years ago (we've lost touch since) that had a child that needed glasses at that age. They make a little strap they can use on them to help keep them on (like one of those sports straps). I think after they get used to them it will cease to be a big problem, particularly if his eyesight is as poor as his prescription says! He will not WANT to take them off, because he won't be able to see!

I have worn glasses for YEARS (since I was in 5th grade, and I probably should have had them a couple of years before that)... I'm in my 40's now. My prescription is around -4.0 (one eye is slightly worse, like -4.25 or something)... anyway... I cannot do much without my glasses. I have a very difficult time without them. If I am in the pool with the kids I feel at a disadvantage b/c I just can't see that well---no throwing the pool football at ME please!, lol I can SEE it, just not as clearly. And I can't see facial details, like expressions very well... so it isn't that you are blind per se. It's more that images are muddy so you can't make out exactly what they are. Depending on the object, some things you CAN'T see.. :(

Talk to his eye doctor about how often he should wear them. Especially in the beginning. I suspect though, that your little guy will enjoy them because he'll finally see what he's been missing all this time! :)

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answers from Houston on

My 3 year old too needed glasses and unfortunately is very near sighted as well...broke my heart but sure explained a lot the way she was getting close to everything to see it... Once she got the glasses she was very excited to see well and has no issue wearing them all the time. She hands them to us if she is going to play and feels that they may get damaged she is so careful with them. We do let her wear them in the pool but she takes them off to go under water although there are many of her swim instructors that wear them underwater as well. Many have asked how we got her to wear them all the time and the bottom line is she can't see without them.


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answers from Austin on

My youngest is 4, and we went in about 9 months ago for our annual family checkup (my husband wears contacts, and this was her first eye exam). We noticed about a month before our appointment, that she would wink really hard sometimes when she was talking to us (like she got something in her eye), and a couple of times, we'd notice her eye turn in just a little bit.

When we went in for her appointment, they put her on a machine to get a preliminary reading on her prescription (she peeks through a hole at a farmhouse in the distance, and they bring it in and out of focus to measure the changes in her eye). When the doc saw the results, he put her back on the machine, to test her, himself. When he got the results again, he had his assistant check herself on the machine, to make sure it wasn't broken. Most people see 20x20. Her vision was 20x200, but when she would wink hard or cross the eye, she could compensate, and bring it up to 20x100.

My daughter's prescription is +8.25 in one eye, and +7 in the other, both with a significant astigmatism. We ordered glasses through our doc (Trivex lenses), and went to LensCrafters to get a "spare pair" of polycarbonates (she wore them in the interim, until her "everyday eyes" came in). Her everyday glasses are wire frames, so they're lighter and more comfortable. Her spares are a little big on her, but they have plastic temples, so as she grows, they can move the bend further back, and they'll last longer.

We've had to use her spares once or twice, when a lens fell out or got scratched. Early on, there was an occasion where she was really frustrated/mad, and took it out on her glasses. After mangling her glasses and making a lens fall out, I made her sit in time-out until I could fix them. They bent back into shape fairly easily, but unfortunately, I couldn't get the lens back in, so we took them up to LensCrafters to get them fixed. All the while, she was hollering at me to give her the spares. I explained that we have spare glasses only for when she -accidentally- breaks hers. She can't wear her spares right now, because if she gets mad again and breaks them, she'll have -no- glasses.

After being legally blind for an hour or so, and realizing what life would be like without them, she hasn't mangled her glasses, since. She's always been very careful with them (aside from the aforementioned temper tantrum), and has gotten so used to wearing them, she sometimes accidentally climbs into the shower with them on.

Our doc said that he starts most kids in contacts at around 10, but given how active she is, that we could try them if we'd like. After getting her used to them over a couple of weeks, it got much easier to get them in and out, but overall, I think she's more comfortable in her glasses.

Our daughter is also on swim team (and we have a pool), so we ordered two pairs of prescription swim goggles. We ordered two sets of lenses, along with one pair of black eyepieces, and one pair of blue eyepieces. Our original intent was to have one pair for home, and one for her swim bag, and when we were assembling them, we decided to have two different color eyepieces for each pair, so she could easily determine which eyepiece goes on which eye (because they're two different prescriptions). This is the place where we ordered them from, and the goggles we got. They can convert his prescription for goggles (glasses are different from contacts and from goggles, depending on how far they are from the eyes), but I'd recommend checking the prescription with your doc, before you order them.

Best wishes,

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answers from Houston on

I know I'm late, and you've already gotten the glasses. However, for all those parents out there looking at glasses for their children, PLEASE get anti-reflective lenses! They should be standard on all lenses, especially for children, but they're not. Not only is it easier to see through them, but they also won't give your preschool photographer nightmares when they show up on picture day.
Come to think of it, EVERYONE should have anti-reflective lenses!

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