Zoe and I re-watched the Yo Gabba Gabba episode “Differences” that I’d written about before.  Previously, I wrote that I was disappointed that Muno got glasses that episode (which has some great songs about wearing glasses), but then he never shows up in glasses again.  Turns out I hadn’t watched the full episode.  At the end, he complains that his glasses always slip, so they give him contacts.  Just like that.  Which isn’t really any better, but at least there was  an explanation.  Still, I wish he’d stayed in glasses, for the whole episode, Zoe kept saying “glasses, like Zoe!”

Then I came across this article “Kids with contacts like their looks better than kids in glasses.”  It’s the result of research done at Ohio State University by Jeffrey Walline.  (If the name sounds familiar, then you have a great memory – he’s the researcher that published a study showing that kids do not think other kids in glasses are less attractive).  Basically, this study looked at nearly 500 nearsighted children between the ages of 8 and 11.  Half were assigned to wear glasses, and half contact lenses.  The kids were asked about their feelings of self worth at the beginning and end of the study.  While there was no difference between the groups in terms of global self worth or their value to society, children wearing contact lenses felt better about how they look, their athletic abilities and acceptance by their friends than did children wearing eyeglasses in a recent study.  The article goes on to make the recommendation that “kids, in consultation with parents, should be able to choose what kind of vision correction they want,” obviously, with maturity and hygeine being big factors in that decsion.

Gah!  It just hurts to read that.  I don’t have strong feelings one way or another about contacts.  I had them from age 13 to 18, and then stopped because my eyes were always bloodshot, and the contacts would cloud up after about 10 hours of wear.  But it just hurts to read that the kids in glasses felt like they were less attractive and that their friends were less accepting of them.  Gah.  Childhood relationships can be crazy enough, without this added factor, and I know I can’t protect Zoe from everything, but I hate the idea that the things that help her see – and that look so freakin cute on her – might make her feel less accepted.

I don’t know if we’ll offer the choice of contacts as early as they did in the study, obviously that depends on what she’s like as an 8 year old.  I know that I’ll do my damnedest to make sure she never feels unattractive because of her glasses.

What are your thoughts on kids in contacts as young as 8?  Will you offer them to your child (again, assuming your child is mature enough to care for them)?

14 responses to “Contacts

  1. We’ve already discussed contacts with Bennett’s doctor and vision teacher and as he gets closer to 10 years old we’ll be getting his input on the option. Our incentives are that with contacts they said he may have better acuity and visual field (he’s lost some peripheral vision) and because he could play sports with contacts easier than with sports goggles. Presuming he’s allowed to play sports, we’re getting mixed opinions on if sports are okay with retinal damage.

    Our VI also told us that some low vision kids get the best acuity with contacts AND glasses. We’re hoping it doesn’t come to that but it may, if Bennett’s acuity continues to get worse. But even with contacts, Bennett will continue to need sunglasses for his photosensitivity and protective eye wear for sports.

    So, while I hope his self esteem isn’t negatively impacted by glasses, we do plan to discuss contacts with him once we feel he’s capable of taking care of them himself.


  2. Gosh that study really pulls on your heart! I think we all as parents never want our children to feel unattractive or have low self-esteem because of their vision. Luckily, I think the glasses are a lot better these days with thinner lenses and more adult like styles than I remember my childhood friends having. My bigger worry than glasses is that her eyes cross when they are off. So any overnight slumber party or pool party will leave her eyes crossed in front of all her friends. I can just pray that she has friends that love her enough to not tease her for that. I know we will give Aubrie the option when she is old enough to care for contacts if her PO agrees they will work well for her.

    I’ve never seen that episode of Yo Gabba Gabba…I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled…it’s on a lot at our house b/c it’s Everett’s favorite. Such a crazy show!


  3. We are currently moving forward with a contact lens for Mia, she will not wear her glasses. She had a vision eval yesterday and vision in her right eye is 20/980; this is without her glasses. However she still manages to amazingly accommodate her low vision without her glasses on and grabs objects and still runs everyone over with her walker. I just need to move onto something that will help improve her vision; 20/980 is pretty bad; but it could be a lot worse, there are children on my aphakic forum that have vision of 20/2000. Once she turns 2 she will have to wear bifocals so I know she will eventually need to wear glasses, however I believe once she gets older she will understand that she can see better with them on. At this point it is very hard trying to convince at 10 month old to keep her glasses on.

    Children can be very cruel, however on the bright side glasses seem to be the trend at the moment with Harry Potter and other child icons that wear glasses. I just hope this will stay the trend when Mia enters school, I do not want her glasses or vision problems to define who she is, she is a bright, amazing little girl and I want her to know that she is an incredible person with or without glasses. Once she gets older I want it to be her decision, whether she chooses contacts or glasses.


    • Wow, that’s great that they can give you contact lenses at such a young age! Once her vision improves in the right eye, she may even do better wearing the glasses! I found that once I was consistent with the glasses and the patching with Elllie, her vision improved quite dramatically in a short amount of time! Good luck! That little girl and you have been through a lot!


  4. Yes, that study is heartbreaking! I wonder though how much we can apply it to our little ones. Since the study was done on nearsighted children, I imagine that most of those children had only recently gotten glasses. NO child should feel less accepted because they are wearing glasses, but I can imagine that this would be more true if they got glasses at a later age. Although I can see that athletic sports can be a lot more challenging with glasses than without it doesn’t make them worth less. I was a nanny before we had our own children, and the three older kids all got glasses for nearsightedness when they were about eight. They never had a problem with not being accepted or feeling less worth. I can’t remember any instance in which they were teased (and I was around them pretty much all the time for five years). The oldest one did get contacts when she was fourteen or fifteen so she could be a cheerleader (I mean that for safety reasons).
    The point I am trying to make is that our “little four eyes” don’t know life without glasses and certainly by eight or ten, they will have faced so many people looking at them and wondering why they wear glasses. They will have also learned how to answer that question, and I think they too will not be able to imagine life without the glasses. I think that we have the very best chance when they are so little to give them the self-confidence they need so that they will always know that they are beautiful and special just the way they are even if they don’t look just like the other kids with their glasses on. Back to my nanny experience, the youngest daughter was born with a hemangioma (in short, a bundle of bloodvessels) right in the middle of her forehead. It looked like a big bruise. People constantly asked if she had fallen and hit her head. Most of the time I just let people believe that because explaining it took too much time. I always told her that it was an “angel kiss.” She just accepted it as that and never let anyone put her down because of it. We can help our children have that self confidence. Yes, their glasses may make them different from other children, but that doesn’t have to be different in a bad kind of way. The glasses do define who they are, but beautifully so.


  5. I think one of the things that surprised me the most – that I didn’t really express well in this post is that this same researcher did the study that showed that other kids don’t view kids in glasses as less attractive (or at least they don’t say they do). So, at least some of the feelings may have more internal factors rather than external factors.

    I do think your point, Corrie, that our kids have always known glasses and so might have less self-confidence issues is a good one. That would be an interesting study (well, I at least would be interested).

    (It may also be worth noting that the author of the study is a paid consultant for Johnson & Johnson Vision, a company that does make contacts. I try to not dismiss out of hand research that is funded by the industry, but it does give some insight into why the research was done in the first place.)


  6. Yes!!! I think we as mothers of toddlers in glasses should go into the researching business! 🙂 Too bad, we don’t have enough time and money on our hands! It would be fun as this site already has people from all over the country!


  7. I was about to ask if that article/study was from someone who made contacts!

    I had glasses from about 3rd grade on and in middle school got contacts. I’ve since stopped wearing contacts and wear glasses all the time.

    I hope my kids just take glasses as part of who they are and that my daughter will enjoy accessorizing with them as I do. If she wants contacts and the Dr says it is a good option then we’ll definitely go there. I liked having contacts as a teen.


  8. My hubbie and I just talked about it. We both think it depends. If there is a need or they would help Elly succeed or make doing something (like sports) easier and the OP would give the go ahead, we would consider them as maybe a part-time option. Our worry is that contacts seem so hard on eyes (lack of Oxygen) and there are so many cute styles of glasses to choose from. I do hope that she grows up a happy, self confident child and sees that her glasses don’t define who she is, rather her actions and attitide do.


  9. I had another thought – my husband and I both wear glasses, along with much of our extended family. Bennett is now 4 but has been in glasses since a year of age and some of my nieces and nephews are in glasses now. Our older two kids are 6 and 7 years old and they feel left out! Their little brother got to wear glasses before them and they keep asking when will it be their turn to have glasses like everyone else. Our 2 year old latches onto sunglasses and wears them around so she can be like her big brother and eventually we gave her an old pair of his frames without lenses so she could see inside without the shades. 🙂

    I think because they are exposed to glasses so much, I’m hoping they’ll find it a normal thing and not feel at all uncomfortable with the need to wear them. Also, if a friend of our kids gets glasses we make sure to compliment them in front of our kids and act very excited for them. We try to attend events like the Beeping Egg Hunt so all our children (but most especially Bennett) can see other children with visual impairments wearing their glasses just like him.


  10. Heidi, that’s funny that your older kids are wondering when it will be their turn :).

    Our family is extremely glasses-heavy, too. I think that’s made it a lot easier for Zoe – all of her grandparents, her great-grandma, her parents, her aunts and uncle (except for my brother’s wife, but she wears contacts) – all of us wear glasses. I wonder, if we ever have a second child, if he or she will fee left out if they don’t need glasses.


  11. Mia was approved for a contact lens during her PO appointment this afternoon. Her PO told me that due to her glaucoma her eye will be difficult to size. Mia is currently scheduled for an EUA April 23rd so they will take this opportunity to measure her eye while she is under anesthesia so they can get an accurate size for her contact lens. She has done so well with the occluding lens that I think she will have no problems with a regular contact lens (I hope). I am so excited that she will finally be able to see much better with her right eye, especially when she is wearing the occluding lens.


  12. Re: YGG – totally agree with you. Why’d they switch to a contact? Oh well. At least we do have crazy DJ Lance. I searched all over to try to get video clips from that episode and came up dry. I’m sure that they’ll be available soon though. Ironically some of the newer ones with Jack Black already have clips up. My kids love YGG and my girlfriend and I are going to give our husbands the DJ lance hats as a prank gift for fathers day LOL. Hey, it comes with glasses too.


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