Confirming what we knew: wearing glasses is harder on us parents than it is on our kids

I ran across a very interesting article the other day while perusing the recent literature on kids and glasses (yeah, I regularly read through article about kids and glasses, makes me a hit at the parties…).

Spectacle wear in children reduces parental health-related quality of life,” published in the Journal of the AAPOS, Feb., 2011 (read the abstract here).  I’ll jump straight to the conclusion before getting in to the details: when it comes to questions about vision and their eyes, parents of kids in glasses worry more than than parents of kids who don’t wear glasses.  Our kids with glasses do not worry any more about their vision than their peers who don’t wear glasses.

So the details…

This was a small study, only 49 children between the ages of were 5 and 13 were recruited.  The children all either had normal vision with no glasses (29 of the children) or refractive error that was corrected with glasses (20 of the children).  None of the children had strabismus or other vision issues – the researchers just wanted to look at the impact of glasses on a child’s quality of life.

Each child and their parents completed two questionnaires, the Intermittent Exotropia Questionnaire, a questionnaire that asks specifically about how vision impacts their quality of life – though there are no questions about wearing glasses; and the Pediatric Quality of Life Questionnaire, which is a more general questionnaire about how kids are functioning physically, emotionally, socially, and in school.  For the Intermittent Exotropia questionnaire, the child answered  a set of questions, the parents answered a set of questions for the child (proxy), and then the parents answered questions about themselves.  For the Pediatric Quality of Life Questionnaire, there was no questionnaire for the parents to answer for themselves.

The Intermittent Exotropia Questionnaire  included things like (you can see the full questionnaire here – scroll down to the bottom of the page.) …

For kids:

  • Do kids tease you because of your eyes?

For parents to answer for their child (proxy):

  • My child feels different from other kids because of his/her eyes.

For parents, about themselves regarding their child’s vision:

  • I worry that my child will be less independent because of his/her eyes.

(There were no significant differences in answers between the two groups of children or their parents in the Pediatric Quality of life Questionnaire, so we’re not going to worry about that one.)

Findings

As I mentioned at the beginning, there was no difference in scores between kids with glasses and those without when it came to their quality of life.  Basically, the kids with glasses were no more worried about their eyes or vision than those without glasses.

But when you looked at the responses by the parents, that’s where the differences stood out.  First, if you looked at the proxy questions – where the parents answered for their child, four of the questions showed lower scores (lower quality of life) for kids with glasses:

  • Q2. My child is bothered by people wondering what is wrong with his/her eyes;
  • Q4. Kids tease my child because of his/her eyes;
  • Q8. My child feels different from other kids because of his/her eyes; and
  • Q9. My child worries about what other people think of him/her because of his/her eyes.

The really interesting thing here, is that the kids did not report feeling different or teased or worried about what others think of them because of their eyes.  The parents were the ones who felt that their kids were encountering those things.  It’s an interesting (and unanswered) question as to who is right in this case, though I’m inclined to guess that parents are projecting their own fears into their answers.

When answering for themselves about their concerns for their children, parents of kids in glasses had lower scores (p <= 0.03 for the stats people)  – meaning they were more concerned – for the following statements:

  • Q3. I worry the my child will have permanent damage to his/her eyes;
  • Q6. I worry that my child will get hurt physically because of his/her eyes;
  • Q7. I worry about the possibility of surgery;
  • Q8. I worry about my child becoming self-conscious because of his/her eyes;
  • Q14. I worry about my child’s eyesight longterm;
  • Q16. I worry about whether or not my child should have surgery.

(Let me tell you, I can totally relate to every one of those statements there.  If someone asked me to list my biggest fears when it comes to Zoe and her eyesight, it would sound really similar).

So, when you hear someone tell you that this is harder on you than it is on your child, there’s probably more than a bit of truth there.  Our kids are tough, and they know that their glasses help them see, and they don’t worry about their eyesight the way we do.  Which I guess is as it should be, since that worrying is our job as parents.

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6 responses to “Confirming what we knew: wearing glasses is harder on us parents than it is on our kids

  1. Love this! And love what you said at the end. I so want my worry and anxiety to take the place of anything that my girl would ever feel. I think glasses are just another accessory in her book. hairbow, glasses, bloomers and shoes and we are ready to go!

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  2. This is great stuff. It’s important that we not project our anxieties onto our kids, but of course we’re going to worry.

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  3. Since finding this site, I’ve often been surprised at the reaction many of the parents here have written about when they discover their child needs glasses – no offense to anyone intended!! Mind you – our daughter wasn’t a baby when we discovered she needed glasses, so perhaps if she had been a wee thing – or required surgery – I may have felt differently!

    When it was determined our daughter needed glasses just over a year ago, at the age of 4, I wasn’t bothered by it at all – I’ve worn glasses since age 8 and hubby has worn them since about age 5 – mind you, HUBBY was bothered quite a bit – he has a degenerative eye condition (diagnosed 10 years ago at age 35), that will result in blindness (he’s been “stable” since being diagnosed, which is a blessing!) – so of course, his first thought was that he “messed her up” by “giving” her “his problem” – that *could* very well end up being an issue – but we won’t know for a number of years and, honestly, it’s not something I obsess over – I’m very much a “one day at at time” and “cross that bridge when we get to it” person!

    I’ve never worried about our daughter being teased about glasses – because, honestly – I don’t remember being teased about my glasses as a child! If I was – it hasn’t “stuck” with me! I DO remember being REALLY excited about my first pair of glasses (they were blue “Bionic Woman” glasses – and came with a hot pink case with a picture if the Bionic Woman running on both sides – I thought they were the best things EVER!!)… and thinking back, I can almost remember every pair I’ve had since!!!

    So, having both been a child in glasses, and a parent of a child in glasses – I definitely agree with the findings of the study that glasses bother/worry the parents more than their child. My only real worry is her damaging her glasses, or with the recent glasses nightmare we’ve been going through (all I know is I’ve found a place I will NEVER purchase glasses from again!!) – that the glasses will fall apart (which has happened TWICE now!!) and she’ll be without anything!! (Oh – I could write a WHOLE post on the issues we’ve been having the past 2 months!!)

    Darlene

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  4. This is a great article!!!! I can complete related to it. I am always worried that something is wrong with her eyes. We have to go every six months to the doctor and every time, a day before I am very worried. Thank God I have an husband that tells me every time, not to worry and if something is wrong, we will cross that bridges than. I never let my daughter see my worries, because it will make her worried. Thank you for this post.

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  5. Pingback: Is it a good thing for glasses to be associated with geeks and nerds? | little four eyes·

  6. Pingback: when you’ve just found out your young child needs glasses | Little Four Eyes·

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