Kids and glasses: the new cool?

Kids with glasses have long suffered from unfortunate, nerdy stereotypes. But there’ve been some signs recently that this might finally be changing.

With attractive frames and thinner lenses, glasses are becoming much more of a fashion statement for children and teens.

Many kids don’t even mind wearing glasses, Dr.Amy Walker, an optometrist with the University of Wisconsin Department of Ophthalmology, said in a recent news article.

"Only a small percentage of children who have to wear glasses are disappointed about it," she said. "Most children are accepting of needing glasses because their friends or siblings wear glasses."

A small-scale study, published last year in the Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics journal, found that pre-teen children perceived their glasses-wearing peers as smarter and more honest. The 80 children queried in the study also didn’t think children who wore glasses were less attractive, the study’s authors found.

The Supersisters blog at PBS Parents recently described the experience of a child getting his first pair of glasses:

All in all, school went well, a few comments that were not the greatest but nothing terrible. He seemed proud and just fine. We even went to our neighbors for a popsicle party to show off the new lenses. I think we are all seeing a whole lot more.

Readers added their own stories about kids and glasses. One person summed it up this way: "Glasses today are nothing like when I wore them in grade school – glasses are cool these days."

Dr. Amy Walker said she even sees some children who purposely try to flunk their eye exam so they can get glasses.

"I can tell if they are not trying hard enough when reading the eye chart," says Walker. "At the end of the exam, I give them plain lenses without a prescription, then have them read the eye chart again. Most of the time, they are able to read it better because they want to demonstrate to their parents the glasses helped them see better."

In those cases, Walker discreetly tells parents not to be concerned; their children do not need glasses. But she says these experiences are never a waste of time.

"I always mention this was a good time for an exam anyway," she says. "Sometimes, I do pick up something that may need attention."

Sometimes, of course, a child will resist getting glasses, or won’t wear them. Some suggestions from the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and from All About Vision:

– Choose frames that are comfortable. The glasses should fit the child’s face.

– Choose lenses made from shatterproof polycarbonate.

– Allow older children to select their own glasses; they’ll be more likely to wear their glasses if the eyewear is a style they like.

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