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Getting used to wearing glasses A photo of a lady smiling wearing her glasses

If you require glasses the optometrist will write a prescription which tells you what type and strength of glasses are needed.

You do not have to buy your glasses at the same optometrists where you had your eyes tested, but if you are comfortable there, it saves visiting another unfamiliar place.  However, if you choose to buy your glasses from another place remember to take a copy of your prescription with you.

If you are tired after your eye test you can always go back another day to have your glasses fitted.

Choosing glasses 

  • People on income support will get help towards the cost of their glasses. The optometrist will organise the discounted costs of glasses at the time of purchasing your glasses.   Most glasses cost more than the discount allowed, so be aware you may need to pay more for the pair you like most.
  • Most people like to look good.  So if person chooses their pair of glasses, and likes how they look in them, they will be more likely to wear them.  A man being fitted with his glasses
  • Who helps the person choose the frames?  Are they going to be encouraged to buy expensive glasses with expensive coatings? You might want to consider what budget you have before you buy.
  • Remember to tell the person that the glasses they try on in the optometrist’s showroom do not have the prescribed lens in them.
  • The person may need to have a family member, friend or particular staff member around to help them decide which frames will be best for them?  Ideally this should be the person who is best able to support the person communicate their wishes and questions to the staff at the optometrists.
  • Some people may wish to pay more for thinner and lighter lenses that might be more comfortable and acceptable. 
  • The optometrist will advise is the person need lenses with tints or ‘reactor’ type lenses’.  

Fitting glasses 

  • It is important that glasses fit properly, if they are uncomfortable, they are more likely to be rejected. A photo of a lady trying on glasses
  • Glasses must fit on the nose, not slide up or down.  Some people with small, flat noses may have problems if they have heavy lenses as these may pull the glasses down their face
  • The arms of the glasses must fit on ears and not hurt them.  It is important to check that people don't have skin problems on or around their ears. 
  • The arms of the glasses must not cut into the side of a person’s face.

Wearing glasses 

  • People need to know what glasses are for.  Are they for near, distance or both?  Will it help to label which glasses are for what activity? 
  • Lots of people take time to get used to new glasses - not just people with learning disabilities. 
  • Looking through glasses can feel very strange to begin with, especially if you have never had glasses before.  Sometimes the optometrists will give a weaker pair, so that person can get used to wearing them. 
  • Some people will not want to wear glasses and may need to be gradually introduced to wearing them.  What is known as an adaptation programme may help.
  • Some people may need the support of others to wear their glasses in a range of different environments, such as day- services, colleges, work etc.

An adaptation programmeA photo of a man watching tv

  • This ‘programme’ is designed to introduce the person to the new sensations of wearing glasses gradually and in a positive way.
  • Don’t start the programme until you are certain that the glasses fit well and are comfortable. 
  • Choose an activity that the person enjoys and one for which the glasses will help.  If they are short sighted, glasses improve distance vision, so the activity may be watching TV. 
  • If the person is long sighted, the greatest benefit will be for near tasks, so the activity may be drawing, looking at magazines, family photographs, or enjoying a meal. 
  • The activity chosen should be safe and not involve any risk to the person who may have initial problems in judging depth or distance (e.g. activities on the move).
  • Put the glasses on at the start of the activity and make the activity very short at first.  If they take the glasses off, simply stop the activity without comment, if this is appropriate.  Alternatively, encourage them to put the glasses back on for a short time with lots of encouragement. 
  • Persevere slowly, increasing the length of time, and/or introduce a second “glasses-wearing” activity.  Don’t worry if it takes a long time.
  • Remember that the ultimate choice of whether to wear the glasses has to lie with the individual.  Although we believe that improved vision improves the quality of life, it is unlikely that an adult will do harm by rejecting glasses.  If you are concerned about long-term consequences discuss this with the optometrist.
  • Many people think that it is ok to use a strap to keep the person glasses on.  This should only be done with the consent of the person.

Taking care of glasses A photo of someone cleaning their glasses

  • You need to keep them clean, using a soft cloth. 
  • You will need to lie them down so lenses aren't scratched. 
  • Glasses and nose pads may need to be adjusted regularly to ensure they continue to fit.
  • Nose pads can get brown and mucky-looking and may need to be replaced.
  • Although there is no entitlement under the NHS to provide a spare pair of glasses if they become damaged, if an individual is reliant on glasses, it may be best to buy a spare pair as it will be distressing if there is long wait to have the main pair repaired.
  • Some individuals will be more likely to break their glasses (intentionally or accidentally), and may benefit from ‘unbreakable’ flexible frames.  These cost more but may benefit a person who is likely to throw, damage or accidently break their glasses. 

Ongoing support with wearing glasses

  • It is recommended that all relevant information about why a person wears glasses is kept in a relevant place, such as their Health Action Plan.
  • It is advisable that where necessary maintenance of a person’s glasses is included in a person’s daily routine (such as regular cleaning after meals, or after activity such as sports, gardening etc.).
  • People with physical disabilities who wear glasses may need specific support with ensuring that glasses are comfortable and correctly positioned on their face – especially for people who may have head rests.  Some people may have thick lenses – consider where people may be positioned by others in their wheelchair. Directly facing bright light or sunlight might be very uncomfortable and potentially sight threatening.

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