Discovering Race Bias While Shopping for Glasses

Ree Jackson
3 min readJul 22, 2019

We had no idea our daughter was having trouble seeing at a distance.

At her annual eye exam, we were shocked when they told us she needed glasses. Her vision had always been 20/20. Now a teenager, her eyes were changing, and she developed myopia which is more commonly known as nearsightedness. My daughter is Asian, and according to the National Eye Institute, East Asians show the highest prevalence of myopia, with 69% having the condition by the age of 15.

Since my daughter is 13, the doctor recommended glasses instead of contacts. She was less than thrilled to know that if she wanted to see, she would need glasses.

A New Experience in Glasses Shopping

I’ve worn glasses since I was 10 years old, so I understood that glasses are not the most exciting thing to pick out. I took my daughter shopping to find a pair she would wear. My daughter’s friend got her glasses at Warby Parker, and that’s where she wanted to shop too.

She tried on pair after pair, but for some reason, nothing looked right on her face. Her eyes were never centered on the lens, and were up too high which created a weird effect. I couldn’t figure out why. We finally asked a salesperson for help.

“You need the low bridge version of our glasses,” said the salesperson. She left us and returned with several pairs that were low bridge designs. That made a big difference. My daughter went from teenage pouting, to suddenly excited about the possibilites. She found a pair she loved and we placed the order.

We Are Better Than Average

Still thinking about glasses shopping, I got home and Googled “low bridge glasses.” Turns out that’s another way to phrase “glasses for Asians.”

I had no idea. I am white, and even though I have been her mom since she was a tiny baby, there is still much I am learning about her experience as an Asian American.

I read article after article about the challenge many Asians have when shopping for glasses because of the shape of their nose and cheekbones. I also read about how much of the glasses industry like many other industries have based stock items on a generalization of caucasians…

--

--

Ree Jackson

Helping people through career trauma. Sharing thoughts on kindness, health, parenting, and politics too. Author of the ebook Reject Revolution. Be well.