Children’s Glasses

Wearing Glasses

Types of focusing abnormality

Short sightedness– Occurs when light is focused to a point in front of the retina instead of on it. This occurs because the eye is either large or is more powerful. Short-sightedness creates blur mainly for things further away such as the TV or the board at school. 1

Long sightedness– Occurs when light is focused to a point behind the retina and occurs because the eye is either small or not powerful enough. Children who are longsighted may actually be able to see fairly well as the eye can adjust the lens inside and bring the focus forward back onto the retina. However, this requires the muscles in the eye to work harder than they should and may result in eyestrain and headaches etc.

Astigmatism-This describes a difference in the curves of the cornea. Children with astigmatism will have two curves of the cornea: a steep one and a flat one – much like a rugby ball. Because of this, there are two focus points inside the eye instead of one which can make things blurry both far away and close up. If glasses are prescribed, they will turn the two focus points into one clear image.

Anisometropia – There is a difference in the focus between the two eyes, they aren’t equal. This can potentially cause one of the eyes to see more than the other. If left, the risk can be that the vision in the worse eye will never develop well and will ultimately be a ‘lazy’ eye in later life.

What to do with the glasses voucher form given to you by an Orthoptist/Optometrist?

This form entitles you to glasses provided at an optician. A range of glasses may be available that are covered completely by your voucher, although there may be other ranges with a supplementary charge depending on the frame chosen. The value that your voucher entitles you to is dependent on the strength of your child’s glasses.

How do I choose the glasses frame?

Children’s faces are different from adults, mainly in that the bridge of their nose (where glasses usually sit) is still forming. It is therefore important to choose a frame that fits well to account for this. The optician should check the fit of the glasses frame and whether it can be adjusted before ordering. A frame should be chosen that doesn’t slip down the nose, to ensure that your child is looking through the lenses when they are worn.

My child has been given glasses for the first time, what will the glasses do?

Depending on whether the glasses are for short sightedness, long sightedness, astigmatism or anisometropia (or a combination), the glasses will act differently and your child will perhaps have a different experience to others or to your expectations.

In children the brain is still developing and still trying to make sense of the world. Because of this, when your child puts their prescribed glasses on for the first time they may not see better straight away, or things may in fact look worse!

The intention of the glasses is to correct for any focusing abnormality of the eyes, however it may take a little longer for the brain to start making connections and for the vision to develop fully.  There is evidence that a successful period of refractive adaptation may fully correct the visual deficit and prevent the need for further treatment. 1

The more the glasses are worn, the more the vision should develop. We recommend full-time wear unless advised otherwise.

Why did I not realise that my child needed glasses?

Occasionally it can come as a surprise to be told that your child needs glasses, as they may have seemed quite happy and to be getting along just fine! This can happen for a number of reasons but one of the main reasons is that one of the eyes may be seeing well or have less of a focusing abnormality than the other. In this case, the child will be able to see the world well but may in fact only be using their better eye.

What happens if my child’s glasses break or are lost?

The glasses voucher form allows you to get the glasses repaired. This must be performed by the opticians who originally provided the glasses. Also, if the glasses are lost they can be replaced by the same means.

To prevent the glasses from breaking, try to:

  • Use both hands to take the glasses off
  • Try not to put the glasses down on the lens surface
  • Keep the glasses in a case when not being worn.
Does the hospital voucher form [HES(P)] cover the cost for prescription sunglasses?

Other than in exceptional cases (when there is a medical condition) the hospital is not able to provide vouchers for sunglasses. However you can purchase prescription sunglasses for your child if you wish.

Where could I buy my child some prescription swimming goggles?

Prescription goggles can be ordered from many opticians and online. If the prescription is more complex or is different between the right and left eye then custom-goggles may be better. Please contact your Orthoptist for a copy of your child’s prescription.

Note: The hospital voucher would not cover the cost of swimming goggles.


  1. Williams WR, Latif AH, Hannington L, Watkins DR. Hyperopia and educational attainment in a primary school cohort. Arch Dis Childhood2005;90:150-3
  2. Moseley MJ, Neufeld M, McCarry B, et al. Remediation of refractive amblyopia by optical correction alone. Ophthal Physiol Opt 2002;23:1–4.

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