By Danielle Crull, ABOM

Finding the correct words to help kids deal with their new vision can make or break the child’s first experience with glasses. It can not only help kids put their new experience into words, but also help parents to have reasonable expectations.

Biggest mistake I hear parent’s say to their little ones is, “Can you see better?” Nothing like the answer of “No” to make parents uneasy about their child’s new prescription and to deflate a young child who is confused about what “better” should look like.

This is why I always take a moment after the frames have been chosen and the lens options discussed to talk about what kind of experience we can expect their child to have when they put on their glasses for the first time. First, I say, their child will see “better” but they don’t know it’s “better” yet. They need to experience their new vision; they need to go out and use it before they really understand and accept this word “better.” How they will see is differently! And this different vision will soon feel better to them. With this discussion I coach the parents and prepare them to ask a better question.

The question we need to ask is “How do you see?” or “How does it look different to you?” These are probing questions that help open up a discussion. This discussion is something children can take with them as they walk out the door. It’s something that teaches them to analyze, compare, contrast, and discuss the changes they are experiencing, allowing them to take the time to appreciate what they have just been given.

If the child is having a hard time putting it into words, I’ll often help. If they are nearsighted, I’ll ask, “Do things look smaller?” A myopic correction will have a minimizing effect on what they see. Kids understand what bigger and smaller means. If they are farsighted, I’ll ask, “Do things look closer?” A hyperopic correction will make things appear to be closer, most kids understand what closer or further means. And if the child has an astigmatism, I’ll ask, “Does the floor look like it’s going down or curving up, is it a hill or a slide?” This feeling from astigmatism correction can seem a little scary to kids sometimes. I always encourage them by telling them that this effect will go away. Sometimes I’ll tell them to enjoy it because it won’t be that way forever. Kids tend to respond well to this thought.

Here are some probing questions to help your little patients explore their new vision:

  1. Do things look smaller or bigger?
  2. Do things look closer or further away?
  3. Does the floor look like a hill or a slide?
  4. What can you see across the street?
  5. Is the print in the book thicker or thinner?