Your Child’s Glasses – Information for Parents and Guardians

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY282-2024
  • Departments: Ophthalmology Department, Orthoptic, Paediatrics
  • Last Updated: 1 January 2024


This leaflet has been produced to give you information about your child’s new glasses. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your orthoptist, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the Orthoptic team caring for your child.

How do you know glasses are needed?

Eye drops were put into your child’s eyes to dilate (enlarge) their pupils. This allows the doctor or optometrist (optician) to shine enough light into the eyes for them to get a good view of the back of your child’s eyes. It also allows them to measure the focus of your child’s eyes, whether your child needs glasses and the strength needed. Your child’s doctor or optometrist will prescribe glasses specifically for your child to enable them to achieve the best possible vision.

Why did I not notice a problem?

It is very common for parents to be unaware their child has an eyesight problem. Children rarely complain of problems as they think their vision is normal.

Why does my child need glasses?

The answer is that we do not know. All new born babies have limited vision and poor focusing due to the shape of their eyes. As they grow this should improve and the eyes grow in a way which compensates for their poor focus; this is a natural process called emmetropisation. Sometimes this does not happen and children are left with a need for glasses. We know this can run in families and is more common in children who were a low birth weight.

What is the problem with my child’s eyes?

In a normal sized eye the rays of light that enter should focus onto the back of the eye (retina). This allows the brain to receive a clear picture. Some children have smaller or larger eyes than average which does not allow this to happen; this is corrected by prescribing glasses. Your child has been found to have:

  • Hypermetropia
  • Myopia
  • Astigmatism

Long-sightedness (hypermetropia)

Hypermetropia means that you are more likely to see better for far distance than for close work. If your child needs a strong prescription their vision will be blurred for distance and close work.

Short-sightedness (myopia)

Myopia means that you are more likely to see better for close work than for far distance.


Astigmatism is the term given to an eye that has an irregular curvature. Rather than the uniform curving such as seen in a football, the eye is more curved in one direction than the other like a rugby ball. This will cause blurred vision at all distances.

How do I get my child’s new glasses?

You will have been given a prescription voucher for glasses. You should take your child and the voucher to an optician of your choice where a dispensing optician will help you choose an appropriate frame to suit your child.

Who pays for the glasses?

The prescription voucher entitles you to a fixed amount of money to cover the cost of the glasses. The amount depends on the strength of the lenses your child needs. The voucher will not cover the cost of expensive or designer frames but you should be able to get a pair of glasses with both the lenses and the frames included in the price. If you choose to go for a more expensive pair of glasses you will have to pay for the difference in the cost and some of the repair costs if the glasses are damaged or broken.

Choosing the correct fit of glasses

Children’s glasses can often get broken or damaged. Expensive frames are not necessarily better. Try not to choose a frame that is too shallow as this will allow your child to look over their glasses. Also ensure that the arms of the glasses loop behind the ears, this will help in ‘anchoring’ the glasses in place and prevent them from sliding down your child’s nose. It is important that the frames are always well maintained; they fit comfortably and are positioned correctly so that your child is looking through the centre of the lenses. Glasses for infants have special adaptations available such as curly ear pieces, special nose pads and head bands to help achieve a comfortable fit. Ask your optometrist about these.

When should my child wear the glasses?

Children should wear their glasses all waking hours unless you have been advised otherwise. During activities such as swimming and rough play, it may be advisable to remove the glasses to avoid the glasses being damaged. If this is their first pair of glasses, be aware they may not take to the glasses immediately. It may take them some time to get used to their new glasses as your child needs to learn to relax their eyes to allow the glasses to do the work.

If your child complains that they cannot see through the glasses, it is important to persevere as their eyes may still be adjusting to the glasses. You will help your child to get used to their new glasses by encouraging full-time wear. Allowing them to take the glasses off for rest periods is not helpful and can lead to your child needing longer to settle with the glasses. Please also ensure your child looks through the lenses rather than over the top.

What are the risks if my child does not wear the glasses?

A child’s eyesight is in its critical developmental phase up to an approximate age of eight years. If your child does not wear their glasses there is a risk that their eyesight will not develop normally; this may mean they never develop the ability to see well. A significant need for glasses may cause eye strain and headaches after near work; it may cause poor attention and limit a child’s progress at school.

Will my child become reliant on the glasses?

Many parents fear that wearing glasses will make their child reliant on them.   This is not true. Your child is getting used to having good vision with glasses and is becoming intolerant of the poor vision they have without their glasses. For this reason your child will want to wear their glasses. Your child’s glasses may appear strong to you but they have been made specifically for your child’s eyes.

Will my child ‘grow out’ of the glasses?

It is not possible to predict and each case is individual. It is dependent on how your child’s eyes grow and the strength of glasses your child requires. We can say with a degree of certainty children with ‘high’ prescriptions will not ‘grow out’ of their glasses.  You should expect your child to need glasses throughout childhood whilst their vision is maturing. A small number of children do ‘grow out’ of their glasses, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

What do I do if the glasses are broken?

Do Not wait until your next hospital appointment. Take your child and glasses back to the optician who supplied them and they will arrange for a repair.

Extra or spare pairs of glasses

Each child is entitled to one voucher per prescription. Vouchers for spare pairs of glasses are only supplied under exceptional circumstances, for example, a highly complex prescription. In most circumstances the cost of extra or spare pairs of glasses or prescription sunglasses has to be covered by the parents or guardian.

Will my child need to attend again?

Your child will need to attend the Orthoptic Department in approximately six weeks. This allows you time to get your child’s glasses and give them an opportunity to wear them. The appointment will not require the use of the dilating drops so should only take 20 to 30 minutes.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Orthoptic Department on Telephone Number 01482 816605.

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