Many kids struggle to get used to wearing their glasses. Whether it is because they fear being teased on the playground or because the extra set of eyes feels weird on their faces. Eastern Cape mom Ntombi Mkize believes what “monkey sees, monkey does”, that’s why she decided to rock her glasses to encourage her daughter to wear her newly prescribed glasses with pride.
Mkize’s daughter, Yadah (8), was excited when she first got her new glasses but little did she know that it would be challenging to keep them on.
“She was six going on seven. She was excited through the eye testing process. The optometrist had her identify animal pictures and colours mostly,” Mkize says.
“We had her choose her own frame although I must say as a parent I feel there really isn’t a big variety to choose from. Fortunately we found a pair that was rubbery (elastic) enough so it won’t break easily. Initially when putting them on she would stretch the arms of the frame – big cringe moment – and it had butterflies on the sides.”
Happy eyes, happy life
Mkize realised that her daughter needed to see an optometrist when she would lean closer to her books when writing.
At first, her daughter was excited to try something new. “She loves new things and initially she was excited about having a new look, but the excitement wore off. I noticed on Sundays when there’s a certain friend (boy child) she’d be keen on wearing them. She doesn’t wear them all the time, but I realised it’s not because she was being teased or anything but much like me, she gets irritated having them on her face all day.”
Mkize says parents with children who wear glasses need to continue to remind them of the importance of wearing them. “Communication goes a long way, as young as they are they understand, so repeat it every day. I’m constantly reminding her it’s to help her see better. They may look ‘different’ but it’s a good kind of different.”
Here’s why parents should get kids eyes tested
Gauteng optometrist Sinethemba Khumalo says it is important for parents to get their children’s eyes tested to ensure proper development.
“Other things that also develop with the aid of the eye include fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It’s also important for us to note that kids don’t have an idea of what is normal and what isn’t. Children feel that everybody sees as they see. So, we need to check those eyes to get a baseline of what the child can or cannot see,” Khumalo explains.
He tells Health For Mzansi that it is important for children to have a visual screening between the ages of three and five, and a comprehensive visual examination by age six.
“Special circumstances like a deviated (squint) eye, abnormal viewing distance and posture, frequent headaches and other signs could warrant earlier examinations. My recommendation is that if a parent suspects any abnormality, they should get the child examined sooner rather than later. After the age of six it will be important for the child to be seen yearly, unless your optometrist recommends otherwise.”
Tips from Khumalo:
- Vision problems come from structural deviations: With eyes, different sizes can mean a difference in visual performance. “Larger eyes tend to be susceptible to short-sightedness, while smaller eyes are the opposite. Other conditions could be caused by prenatal conditions, genetics, trauma, and many other causes,” explains Khumalo.
- Look out for the signs: These may include squinting, standing too close to objects to see them better, rubbing your eyes excessively, and having difficulty concentrating at school.
- Stick to regular check-ups: Include diversified visual environment, limit screen time, and playtime outside with other kids, and avoiding injury. “Any infection could be serious, and parents need to use the necessary channels to ensure their child gets the necessary treatment.”
- It’s all in the frame: It’s important to involve the child in the frame choice, Khumalo advises. “Additional accessories could also improve compliance. Things like a Spiderman cord to keep the glasses around the child’s neck make a big difference. I think parents must also constantly remind the children as to why they need to wear the glasses. Communication is key.”