All those crazy swirling emotions when you find out your child needs glasses

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now.  One of the most common things I hear from parents whose child has just gotten glasses is that they’re surprised by the intensity of their emotions, and often they feel bad for feeling bad (which doesn’t really help anyone feel better).  I know I felt similarly, I was filled with worry and was a bit upset, but more than anything felt guilty for feeling upset.  And on top of it all, a lot of parents feel like they must be the only ones who feel that way.  So just to put that to rest, here’s a sample of some posts I’ve seen on our facebook group…

Am I a bad parent that I’m sad to have learned my child needs glasses?…

Is it just me or was anyone else really upset when they were told their toddler needed glasses full time?…

I am really struggling with blaming myself for not realizing my child couldn’t see well before now…

I was so upset when we learned my child needed glasses, but then felt better the next day.  Now I’m back to feeling sad.  Is that normal?…

I feel so lost and overwhelmed…

I feel weird because I wasn’t upset or heart broken when my child was put in glasses…

girls with glasses (I'm looking at the camera's viewfinder in the mirror)

I was worried and upset when I first learned Zoe would need glasses, too.

So here’s what I want everyone to know: your feelings are your feelings – they aren’t good or bad or weird, they simply are.  If you’re anything like me, there are a whole lot of thoughts going through your head when you get news like this, and it is perfectly reasonable to feel some (or even all) of the following:

  • sadness that they don’t have perfect vision
  • concern about what that means for their future
  • worry about whether your child will wear their glasses
  • sadness that the glasses will change your child’s appearance
  • guilty for feeling bad when the problem is minor compared to other problems out there
  • worry that you might have done something to cause your child’s vision problems (it is almost certain that you did not do anything to cause your child’s problems, by the way)
  • fear that your child will be teased about their glasses or that people will only notice their glasses and not other things about them
  • confusion about all the different terms and concepts around vision issues and glasses
  • relief that their vision can likely be improved or anger if it can’t
  • excitement for their glasses to come in and for your child to start seeing better

It’s normal to feel sad or worried or upset, it’s also completely normal to feel relieved, excited, or even not much of anything at all.  But please let go of any guilt for how you are feeling — there will always be people who have it harder than you do, and perspective is a helpful thing, but this is not a competition for who has it the worst, and someone else going through a difficult time doesn’t automatically make what you’re facing easier.  You are still allowed to feel scared or upset.  Again, how you feel is how you feel.  The important thing is what you do next to get your child the help they need.  If your feelings are getting in the way of moving forward with glasses or other treatments, then acknowledge your feelings, share them if that would help (you can leave a comment here, or join the facebook group and post there if you’re looking for a safe place to share), and then take a deep breath and move forward.


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19 responses to “All those crazy swirling emotions when you find out your child needs glasses

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

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I just found out today that our toddler will most likely need glasses for quite a few years, if not forever. I went through pretty much every emotion you described, especially feeling guilty over what I know (rationally!) is a minor thing compared to what so many other people have to watch their children suffer through. I just love his little face, more than anything in the world, and the thought of it changing so much makes me sad. The only pair of glasses available through our doctor for his size is absolutely hideous and I feel like that’s all people will see now. I know we’re doing the right thing for him and his health, and I’m sure one day I won’t remember when he didn’t have them! Thanks again for validating what felt like a total over-reaction. It’s nice to know we can let ourselves take a minute to process it all!

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    • Hi Julie, I’m glad this was helpful. Are there any other optical shops near you with options for toddlers? There are so many fun frames these days that I bet you could find some that you liked better

      Best wishes!

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  3. This article was so helpful. I just found out yesterday that my 19 month needs glasses. I cried and cried. He also will start speech therapy soon and it just seemed like so much for him to go through all at once. But I found comfort in my faith and God allowing me to find this blog. I sent a request to join the Facebook group as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience so other parents do not feel alone. God bless you!

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    • I’m glad it was helpful, Kamilah. He is going through so much, but know that you’re doing a great thing in making sure he has the supports and help he needs.

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  4. I found out today that my 2 year old daughter needs glasses and the news truly hot me like a brick… She’s my little baby… Daddy’s girl… I don’t want anything to hurt her. The guilt I felt finding out that she’s spent the last 2.5 years with blurry vision chews me up inside.
    I’m not one to normally search for advice or support on the internet but I found this page.. All I want to say is thank you. I felt almost every emotion you listed and they turned this father of three into a bubbling baby for the first time in years but after reading your site it made me feel a bit better. I know It’s certainly not the end of the world… But I feel sorry for the first person who says something about my baby girl that I don’t want to hear… :).
    All in all thank you and I’m sure I’ll definitely be back on this site for advice and guidance!

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    • Hi Rob,
      Thank you for your post. We just found out yesterday that my 2 year old daughter needs glasses. I have been filled with emotions since I found out. When the doctor fitted her for glasses I wanted to cry. They looks awful on her! She is so tiny so needs the baby glasses and when she has them on she doesn’t even look like my baby anymore! I am also worried that when her glasses come in next week she will not want to wear them. How did your daughter do with wearing them at first? it is tearing me up!

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  5. I’m so glad that I found this site. We just found out today that my 5 y/o son has a lazy eye. We went to an eye doctor for an just a normal eye exam as it is required for kindergarten. His right eye has 20/20 vision but his left eye is 20/400. I have mixed emotions but not too surprised as I have a lazy eye, astigmatism and wears eyeglasses/contact lenses since I was 8. My mom’s side had eye surgeries and laser due to glaucoma and cataracts. What concerns me most is that my son is too young and very active but I’m glad we can hopefully correct and detected it early. My husband is more bothered than I do.. I guess I feel like he’s blaming me quite a bit or may be he’s just too worried for our son. I know my son can handle it well as he likes wearing fake glasses as part of his costume. Hopefully with the new glasses and right prescription he’ll feel more comfortable.

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    • Hi Rhoucheille, I hope that your son does well in his glasses and your husband sees what a difference they can make with a child. Best of luck to you all.

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  6. Thank you for your reassurance. I have been hiding my feelings because I was worried that I was overreacting and could upset my 6 year boy who needs glasses for school work. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone and I look forward to reading more helpful tips.
    Katie, Australia.

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  7. Hello , so today I took my daughter (6yr old) to her first eye exam and she needs glasses . Reading this made me cry so much because today has been such an emotional day for me . I’ve had to hold my tears all day till now it’s 11:27pm and I got to this post since the emotions won’t let me sleep . I feel like a horrible parent for letting this happen , why do I blame myself because we purchased an iPad for her when she was about 2 or 3 and used it for a good while . I’m so upset and sad and mad and angry , I’m sorry for posting this but I just want to let my emotions out . I was so upset I didn’t ask questions that now burn my head at this hour . Like how do doctors end up deciding that children need glasses ? The huge computer they use? Or the letters ?( my daughter missed a couple of letters but I tend to think because she wanted to say whatever letter she saw or thought of if she didn’t know what letter it was . Or if this will worsen . I hope someone can reply to me. I hope this will not be permanent . Her prescription was pretty high but no headaches so i don’t know what or how it happens . I hope to hear from anyone .

    Thank you , I feel a little better

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    • Hi Karina, I’m glad you found this post and I hope you let go of any blame. Getting your daughter an iPad did not cause her vision problems. There are a variety of tools the eye doctor uses to determine whether a child needs glasses. It includes the eye chart for sure, but they also use a retinoscope (looking in the eye with a bright light) to determine the shape of her eye — that shape is what determines whether the light is focused in the back of her eye correctly. Kids are amazingly adaptable at this age, and they can focus through some blurriness, but even if it doesn’t cause headaches now, it can cause eye strain and eye fatigue, and that can get worse as they get into higher grades where the visual demands are even greater.

      I don’t think anyone can say what the future holds in terms of whether she’ll always need glasses. If she’s farsighted (her prescription number has a “+”), then some kids do outgrow the need for glasses. If she’s nearsighted (her prescription number has a “-“), then she probably won’t outgrow the need for glasses.

      If you’re unsure, I’d recommend getting a second opinion, for peace of mind, but also because that would give you a chance to ask some of the questions that you still have. You should also be able to call or email her current eye doctor and ask those questions.

      Best wishes to you and your daughter

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      • hello, and thank you for answering I am feeling a lot better since that day ! I’m actually thinking of getting a second opinion just to calm my nerves and I will be asking more questions this time ! for now , I am waiting on her glasses to see her doctor.

        for some reason now I can’t seem to stop looking at her cute little eyes, but thank you again ! and yes her glasses did have the + sign with a 6.00 in front which I read was quite high.

        thank you so much I will be checking your post daily🙂

        happy New Years!

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  8. hello, and thank you for answering I am feeling a lot better since that day ! I’m actually thinking of getting a second opinion just to calm my nerves and I will be asking more questions this time ! for now , I am waiting on her glasses to see her doctor.

    for some reason now I can’t seem to stop looking at her cute little eyes, but thank you again ! and yes her glasses did have the + sign with a 6.00 in front which I read was quite high.

    thank you so much I will be checking your post daily 🙂

    happy New Years!

    Like

  9. Hi, we noticed our child’s eyes were misaligned at 2 years 8 months but we had another baby with a heart defect who was hospitalized at the time. We never got our older child into the doctor and in glasses until he was 3 years 1 month. His vision is 20/40 in one eye and 20/60 in the other, that’s with glasses on and his vision has not improved with the glasses in over a year. He has bilateral ambylopia and is now 4 and a half. I worry that it is my fault that he has vision loss and my heart breaks to think it won’t improve any more. They started patching his “good” eye next week. I’m not sure he’ll be able to go to kindergarten, he can’t see letters and numbers 😦 I’m having panic attacks, depression and major guilt and anxiety and I don’t know what to do. It’s hard not to go into the future and worry about what he’ll be able to see (or not see) and how that will affect his life choices. I’m having so many feelings I’m incapacitated.

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    • oh, goodness, Jodi. You’ve been through so much, and it is so hard to catch vision issues. I know as parents we take on a lot of guilt, but I just want you to know that you’re not at fault! You got your child in to glasses shortly after you noticed his eyes weren’t aligned, and that’s a good thing!

      Bilateral amblyopia is a tough one, have you gone for a second opinion, just to see if a different eye doctor has other treatment ideas?

      Finally, your son can absolutely go to kindergarten and school — and he can thrive, even if he still has a vision impairment. He may need a magnifier or larger print papers or other accommodations, but I know of a lot of kids with vision impairments who are doing wonderfully in school.

      I’m totally with you on how hard it is not being able to see in to the future, but just based on reading what you’ve written, you’re doing what you can for your son and you’re on his side, and that counts for an awful lot.

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  10. Hi there,

    We just found out yesterday that our 4.5 yr old daughter needs glasses and her prescription is -3 which is high. I have -6 myself and i know how it feels like. I almost fell off the chair at the doctor’s office sheni found out what is her vision prescription. I didnt even asked a lot of questions as i was trying to be calm and control my emotions not to cry. I feel so guilty and i cannot accept that my child has not been seeing well all these year. We never noticed any difference in her vision and she never complained that she is not seeing well. I was always paying more attention to her eyes to make sure she is not closing them a little to get more clear picture.
    I am experiencing all the emotions, guilt and sadness you listed in your post and trying to accept an idea that my little girl will need glasses. Also she wont look the same with glasses:-( i am so so so mad at myself right now that i just cry and trying to swollow the news that i received at the doctor’s office.
    I am also thinking to get a second opinion just because i need another professional that will help me to understand and accept the situation and hopefully by then i’ll feel better.

    I also have lot more questions for a doctor as yesterday i could not even ask any question as i was so upset and took all the quilt.

    Thank you so much for this post as i know i am not alone and other parents are experiencing the same emotions and feelings!!!!

    Like

    • Hugs to you, Erita. It is a lot to take in. I think a second opinion is a good idea, and it’ll give you a chance to ask all those questions you have. Know that it gets better and you’re doing a great job!

      Like

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