more on the perception of glasses

A friend sent me this link after reading my last post about whether or not glasses = nerdy.  The story is a piece from National Public Radio that ran this past April, you can listen to the program at the link above, or read the transcript there – they’re the same.  The program talks about a study that was done in a poor, rural area of China.  Two researchers found that while 10% of the kids there in the primary school needed glasses, only 2% were wearing them.  So as an experiment in educational interventions, they offered free glasses to all the kids in one school that needed them (1,500 pairs of glasses).  After a year, compared to children in a nearby school that didn’t receive glasses, the kids that got glasses learned 25 – 50% more.  But the big surprise to the researchers was that 462 families turned down the free glasses, though the researchers aren’t sure why.

The whole article is really quite interesting.  For one, it’s clear that for children with poor vision, having that vision corrected is extremely important for learning.  (Encourage your friends to have their children’s vision examined if they haven’t done so already, especially if their kids are starting school).  And I’d love to know more about why some families refused the glasses.

The biggest surprise to me was that the radio program then brought in an optometrist who claims that “eyeglasses are the coolest thing you can put on your face right now.”  He sells around 300 pairs of glasses with clear, non-prescription lenses.  I don’t know if that coolness translates to how kids feel about glasses, but I’m certain it doesn’t hurt.  The final thought, from the optometrist was that “any hip-hop star to any idol of a sports star that wears them [glasses] influences children’s perception of eyeglasses.”

What do you think?  Are glasses the coolest thing for your face these days?  Is that coolness factor only for adults, or does it also hold true for kids?  I expect that it is true that seeing sports icons and other celebrities in glasses makes them more attractive for older kids, but what about for our younger kids?  Does your child in glasses notice or point out when they see a character in glasses?  Does it seem to make a difference in whether they wear their glasses?

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One response to “more on the perception of glasses

  1. Interesting. Well, I’m guessing that in poor, rural China, parents might be ignorant of the importance of glasses. They have bigger problems, like survival, on their minds and so this might not be high on their priority list? And in general poor, rural and therefore not well educated areas are probably “behind” in accepting all kinds of differences, including glasses. I see the coolness factor as very important. Coolness is the ultimate acceptance. It’s a celebration of glasses and what’s not great about that?

    Stella notices characters and kids that wear glasses. I think it helps reinforce her good feelings about her frames. And if older kids are cool with glasses, it must filter down such that there is generally more positive feedback and less negative feedback toward little ones or anyone in glasses!

    Recently, a server in one of our favorite Thai restaurants asked if Stella’s glasses were just for fashion. While a bit silly, I saw that comment as definitive proof that glasses are cool, a sought after accessory to be worn for looks if not for function.

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