Getting glasses for Zoe

Our ophthalmologist recommended that we go to an eyeglasses shop specifically for kids, but as we were leaving her assistant came and found us as we were leaving and told us it’d be cheaper to go somewhere like Sam’s Club. That’s probably true, but we decided that since Zoe was only 14 months, we really wanted at least the first set of glasses to come from a place that really understood what small kids need in eye glasses.

I’m really glad we did that, because the place we went (Glasses Menagerie, for those in the Twin Cities area) was great. The things that made it great are the things I’d look for when choosing a place to buy toddler glasses from:

  1. It should have a space designed for children. They had a huge fish tank, and plenty of toys in the waiting area, and the place just generally seemed welcoming and a fun place for a kid to be. Zoe is always happy when we go there.
  2. The staff should know how to deal with small children, and should be comfortable working with kids even when they’re crying and/or squirmy. When Zoe was crying while we were picking out frames, the person working with us must have seen how worried we were about annoying them. She very kindly told us that they’re used to young children crying, and it doesn’t bother them at all. And since all the other customers were families with kids, they seemed to understand, too.
  3. The staff should be knowledgeable in fitting glasses to small children, and be able to do it quickly and accurately. I can’t imagine it’s easy to measure the distance between the eyes of a very upset little girl who wants nothing to do with anything else touching her face. But they managed.
  4. Your child’s prescription will likely change in a relatively small amount of time. See if they offer any discounts on re-making the glasses when the prescription changes. Our place replaces lenses for free if the prescription changes in the first month, and charges 50% if it changes in the first 9 months. Zoe’s prescription did change after her first follow-up appointment (which happily fell within the one month time period). I’m almost certain it will change again before the 9 months are up.
  5. They should offer, and be happy to provide, free adjustments to the glasses whenever you need them. Your kid will be hard on the glasses, they’ll get bent, the screws may fall out, whatever the reason, they’ll stop fitting nearly as well. You should feel comfortable stopping back in, a lot, to get them re-adjusted.

The staff there also gave us very welcome advice on how to choose glasses, and some hints on getting kids to wear their glasses:

  1. Go ahead and get glasses that are brightly colored and fun. Your child will have plenty of time for understated, sophisticated, boring glasses when they’re grown. For now, go ahead and get frames that reflect their fun side. We thought that with Zoe’s coloring, she’d look good in nice tortoiseshell frames, but they just looked boring on someone so little.
  2. When putting glasses on your child, do it with with a smile. While we were trying glasses on Zoe, she was crying and we were getting upset, too, and kept apologizing to her. The person we worked with recommended that instead, we show her how happy we are when we put glasses on her (even when we aren’t). It didn’t completely stop her crying, but she definitely calmed down a notch once we started acting happier.
  3. When starting out with the glasses, your child will try to take them off. If they do, simply put them back on with a smile. If they don’t let you put them on, don’t make a big deal, simply set them aside and try again in a half hour. It took about 2 weeks for Zoe to get to a point where she leaves the glasses on most of the time.
  4. Take off your child’s glasses when they’re in the car – at least at the beginning. It’s likely they’ll take off their glasses and throw them somewhere where they might fall out of the car or get smushed when you open the door.
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