How do you keep glasses and patches on young children?

About Sarah Blake LaRose

Sarah Blake LaRose is a freelance writer and a professor of Biblical Hebrew at Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. She is one of three blind academic scholars who received the Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind in 2016 in recognition of innovative work in the field of access to biblical language texts and tools for people who are blind.

How do you help a young child get used to new glasses? This is a common question from parents of children who are fisually impaired.

Paula Korelitz provided the following tips for parents on an email support group for families of children with ROP in 1998:

  • Glasses can be tough to get used to, but IF they are beneficial, kids soon discover that they are worth keeping on.
  • Have a specific place for each child to leave their glasses when they aren’t wearing them, and teach them to lay them down so that they are open, but upside down
    so they won’t scratch their lenses. (They will likely scratch their lenses at some point.)
  • Talk about why they are wearing their glasses, and encourage them to look through their glasses at exciting new things, especially in the early stages.
  • Use contrast and good lighting when you expect them to use their glasses.

Other parents suggested additional strategies. For infants and very young children, it is possible to purchase straps that secure the glasses behind the head via the earpieces.

Some families had success with creating interest in the glasses by showing the child that the parents also wore glasses. This did not work in all cases.

A similar question applies to use of eye patches for treatment of amblyopia. This is a special situation, and I always recommend that parents be sensitive to its effects on a child emotionally. When the child’s strong eye is patched, the child may have strong feelings of frustration due to the difference in usability of vision in the weaker eye.

Suggestions for patching usually focus on making the patch appealing and comfortable. Additionally, I would encourage building in as much interesting activity to this part of the routine in order to help the child cope emotionally with the change. If she is old enough, allow her to choose something to do with her “patch time” so that it becomes a special time for her and does not feel like a punishment time.

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