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, excluding other races from what is considered “average.”
What is average anyway? Is anyone typical at this point?
Humans are diverse.
There is no such thing as one-size fits all. I’m glad to see the eyewear industry starting to take this into consideration, that glasses need to fit more than a mannequin based on some sort of human ideal that rarely exists. Beyond glasses, it is refreshing to see clothing manufacturers promoting adaptive clothing. Even Target this year will offer adaptive clothing Halloween costumes for children of all abilities.
Inclusion matters. Sensitivity to all perspectives and experiences can help us be better than average.
A Happy Ending
My daughter’s glasses arrived in the mail. She put them on, and squealed with delight when she could see things at a distance clearly.
Then, her glasses kept slipping down her nose. It started to drive her crazy. She took off her glasses, and there were tears in her eyes.
“I love being able to see, but I’m worried glasses just aren’t made for my face,” she said.
I assured her that everyone needs their glasses adjusted, and that it was normal. So back to Warby Parker we went.
When we arrived, a salesperson greeted us. In a helpful twist of fate, she was Asian too and she was wearing glasses.
“My glasses need adjusting,” said my daughter.
She nodded sympathetically. “Are they slipping down your nose non-stope?” She asked.
My daughter nodded.
“Mine did that too, but we can fix that,” she said. The salesperson pulled off her own glasses and explained to my daughter in detail how she got her glasses fixed, and what she looks for in glasses. She then took my daughter’s glasses and let her watch as she worked to get the perfect fit.
I will be forever grateful to that salesperson who took so much time and caring to listen to my daughter’s concerns and helping her to know she was not alone.
In the end, my daughter got more than a pair of glasses. She got empathy, understanding from someone who had a shared experience. It was quite a sight to see.