Yesterday at church they presented the third graders with bibles. Three out of the 24 kids up there were wearing glasses. 1 in 8. Or 12.5%. It got me wondering about what percentage of kids under the age of 5 wear glasses, and how that compares with the population as a whole. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that not a lot of young kids have glasses, but by adulthood, a whole lot of us sport specs. As luck would have it, I was working at the library all Sunday afternoon and evening, so when I wasn’t helping students, I was practicing my research skills by trying to find an answer.
Turns out that’s not as easy a question as I’d originally imagined. In fact, a lot of studies on the occurrence of eye glasses in the general population talked about how there were no good statistics on that, particularly in young kids. Grrr. Grrr, I say! As near as I can tell, nearly a half of all people 18 – 40 wear corrective lenses of some sort. Among school age kids from 6 – 18 years, it’s around 25%, but that’s a large span of time, so I’m guessing it’s considerably less at 6 yrs than it is at 18, which fits with what I observed of the third graders.
The closest thing to numbers that I could find for younger kids was a study of a preschool vision screening* that looked at 1,258 3-year olds and 1,613 4-year olds. Of the kids screened, 1.7% of the 3-year olds and 2.9% of the 4-year olds were identified as having potential vision problems and were treated. I think we can assume that fewer of these ended up with glasses. So we’re looking at less than 1 in 60 3-year olds wear glasses.
Basically, while we’re feeling like our kids are the only ones in glasses right now, by the time they hit first grade, it’s quite possible that there will be other kids in glasses in their classes, and almost certain by the time they’re in 3rd grade. Mostly I look forward to her not being the “baby in glasses,” though I admit that there’s a little part of me that will miss that celebrity status, that instant recognizability.
As an aside, I’m astounded that there aren’t better numbers on how many kids under 5 wear glasses. In this day of too much information, it’s a little unsettling to find things that just aren’t known. If anyone else has or finds these numbers, let me know.
* Hartmann EE, Bradford GE, Nottingham Chaplin PK, Johnson T, Kemper AR, Kim S, Marsh-Tootle W, Writing Committee, Submitted on behalf of PUPVS Panel for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Project Universal Preschool Vision Screening: A Demonstration Project, Pediatrics 2006 117: e226-e237