When my youngest, Owen, was a newborn, he had these beautiful blue eyes that would swing back and forth like pendulums. He never opened his eyes outside, and soon I realized he didn’t seem to “see” us.
We found out at only 2 months old that he had a lifelong condition called Albinism, which affected his hair, skin, and eyes. Those early months were long and difficult for me; his vision was so poor that he didn’t recognize my face until he was 5 months old. When Owen was about 6 months old, we saw a wonderful doctor at UCSD that changed our lives and prescribed him his first pair of glasses.
When we found out about Owen’s albinism, we were devastated. No one wants to hear that their child is blind and will hate sunlight for the rest of his life. It was really hard looking into his eyes and realizing he can’t even see me yet. That first year was rough on me, both emotionally and physically. I never felt like I was ever going to get the hang of juggling two pairs of glasses (prescription glasses and sunglasses), a hat, and sunscreen. But as his vision slowly improved over the first year of his life, my spirits lifted and it became our new normal. Now I can’t picture Owen any other way but with cute round frames on his face!
A couple years later, when our older son Jack was about 5 years old, he failed his vision and hearing test in the nurse’s office at school. It was a total surprise when he came home with a note saying he probably needed glasses too!
When we found out about Jack needing glasses, we were obviously completely surprised. He was an early reader — reading before his 5th birthday — and hadn’t hinted at all that he had a difficult time seeing things. But the news settled in quickly; since his little brother has always worn glasses, this was a familiar part of life for us. Now it’s second-nature to us and them, and I love how much they’ve bonded just over wearing glasses together.
“I never thought both my boys would be in glasses, in two completely different, unrelated reasons for wearing them. This definitely took some time to get used to.”
Owen has been wearing glasses for as long as he can remember. It was a little bit of an adjustment to go from his flexible baby frames to hard acetate, but within a day or two he figured out they were easier to put on by himself and loved the newfound freedom. When Jack found out he needed glasses, I think there was a part of him that was actually really excited to be like his little brother; he saw it as a privilege to get to wear glasses! When we were getting out of the car before Jack’s first eye exam, he whispered to me, “I want glasses. But ones that look more grown-up than Owen’s, without a strap on the back.” He embraced them from day one and loves all the compliments he gets.
It sounds silly, but honestly I think there’s a little bit of a grieving process you have to go through when you realize your child’s face will never look the same again. The most important thing I’ve learned (and like to tell everyone who compliments the boys’ frames) is to appreciate how EASY it is to buy and fit JPE glasses. We spent three years going to different optical shops and purchasing over a dozen frames for Owen, and it was frustrating every time. When he broke a pair of glasses or grew out of them, I’d cry because the process of getting new ones was so stressful and expensive. Both boys are now rocking JPE frames, and we’ve never looked back — they’re better looking, sturdier, and more scratch-resistant than any other lenses we’ve had. And best of all, you can adjust them yourself anytime you want, keeping me out of the dreaded optical shop.
We heard about JPE from a friend when Owen was probably 1 or 2 years old, and I remember being so sad that he didn’t fit in the frames yet. I knew the day would eventually come when he’d be old enough, but what I didn’t realize at the time is that Jack would actually be the first to wear JPE frames! We ordered a try-on kit and picked out a pair with him — and made a mental note of the frames we’d pick for Owen to wear in a couple years.
One of the best things about JPE frames are that they’re adjustable at home. Nothing is more awkward than having to go into an optical shop and ask them to fit the glasses you bought online instead of from them! We’ve had at least 15 pairs of glasses in our home, all from different places, and JPE quality is top-notch. The hinges are very strong and durable, and even with rough boys we have yet to get a scratch on our lenses. And trust me when I say you can’t beat the $79 all-inclusive price — over the years I’ve never paid less than $200 for a of glasses!
It definitely was an adjustment for me, but as a parent – you need to give yourself time. It’s a big change that came on suddenly. Your child’s face will never look the same again, and that’s kind of shocking at first! Your kids will mirror your emotions, so if you’re confident, they will be too. One thing we’ve done that’s helped a lot in the adjustment period is giving our kids responsibility and ownership of their glasses. They each have a dedicated place to store their glasses at night (in pockets that hang off the side of their bunkbed). Morning and night, it’s their job to carefully put on and take off their glasses and put them away in the case. Giving them small responsibilities like this and praising them when they succeed has helped our boys respect and take care of their glasses.
Owen is charming from head to toe. He speaks so eloquently in the cutest little voice that makes you eagerly listen to every word he says. You can’t help but instantly fall in love with his inquisitive personality, and his glasses are usually the icing on the cake for people. He is always imagining and building things using legos, blocks, a drawing he’s made, or even the hangers strung together from his bedroom closet. He’s got the wildest imagination and makes sure to share his well thought out, detailed plans for his masterpieces and adventures with whoever will listen. He loves to read and use the CCTV at school that magnifies the pictures in his books. He gives the best hugs and is one of the most thoughtful kids I’ve ever met. Despite the visual limitations of having albinism, he is confident and independent — I love that he never lets it hold him back.
Jack is likely the happiest child you’ll ever meet. Every teacher he’s ever had since the age of two has told me he has the most infectious laugh and smile they’ve ever seen. It’s true — he gave his first smile at five weeks old and never stopped after that! He has high-functioning autism (Asperger’s) and wears his heart on his sleeve. When he’s cheerful he lights up the whole room with his giggles, but when he’s sad he feels it with such deep, raw tears. The way he feels with such genuine emotion is one of my favorite things about him. Most often you’ll find him reading (literally for hours a day) and building flying space ships out of legos. He loves school more than anything else — it’s his favorite place to be!
Thank you so much Alie for sharing your story with us!
Continue to follow along their story at @delightedtobe
via Jonas Paul Eyewear – News
from Jonas Paul Frames – Blog http://jonaspaulframes.weebly.com/blog/guest-feature-two-children-needing-glasses-for-two-different-reasons