The problem with toddlers and glasses

This week Anchel talks about how tiny pink glasses—and the toddler that is supposed to wear them—are getting the best of her.

By Anchel Krishna
The problem with toddlers and glasses

About a year ago Syona got strabismus surgery. Although having crossed eyes is pretty common in most infants, it usually gets better with age. Syona’s did not, which wasn’t shocking since her muscles act a lot more unpredictably because of her cerebral palsy.

The surgery was a day-long procedure performed at SickKids in Toronto, and it went incredibly well. Syona handled it like a champ (I, on the other hand, spent the days prior to the surgery with my stomach in knots).

After the surgery it was like Syona’s whole world opened up. She had much better depth perception, hand-eye coordination and even started interacting with everything around her a lot more — both people and toys.

As the months went on and her ophthalmologist monitored her progress, there was mostly good news. Syona’s eyes were significantly straighter and her vision was in the normal range. However, there was still a little bit of turning and her doctor prescribed glasses. The prescription is very weak but the glasses are supposed to help correct the remainder of the turning. The problem: The kid will not wear the glasses.

Generally, kids will keep their glasses on because they make everything clearer. However, In Syona’s case, they don’t make the world clearer because her vision is normal. They just correct her eye turn, so there really isn’t much motivation for her to wear them.

When we selected her frames we had two choices: Rubber frames with a strap that wrapped around her head or lighter frames that only went around her ears. Our hope was that the lighter frames would be less annoying (and there was less for her to grab onto). We were wrong.

Getting the glasses on her face means we either constrain her hands, put them on and then do things that keep her hands completely occupied or we put mittens on her hands so she can’t get them off. We’ve been trying these strategies for several months and she certainly isn’t tolerating her glasses any better than she was when we first got them.

We’ve tried other techniques — like “first and then.” It goes something like this:


Me: “Syona, first we wear your glasses, then you get <insert bribe here: a pony, a dog, a toy, even jewellery>, OK?”

Syona: “Ya.”

So I put the glasses on. She takes the glasses off.

Me: “No, Syona; we have to wear our glasses.”

Syona: “Ya.”


So I put the glasses on. She takes the glasses off. I put the glasses on. She takes them off. And we continue our toddler tango until I inevitably get tired and stop.

We do this dance throughout the day. And let’s be honest, she is always in the lead.

And really, the strategy for now is just to keep going and hope that she gets used to them (she has to eventually, right?).

Do your kids wear glasses? What are your tips to get your kids to do something they don’t want to (in this case, wearing glasses)?

This article was originally published on Feb 26, 2013

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