Does Your Child Need Eyeglasses?
According to All About Vision, 5-10% of all preschool children have problems with vision; for children already in school, approximately 25% of them have been diagnosed with some sort of visual problem. Now in your 30s or 40s, you don’t remember ever having had an eye exam as a kid. And even now you still don’t need glasses or contact lenses! So how would you even know if your little one has difficult seeing?
An astute pediatrician should do a visual screening at your child’s regular medical exam by age 2 or 3. This may involve looking into your child’s eyes and asking them to identify common shapes, since they likely cannot consistently recognize and name alphabet letters. (For school-aged children, a visual screening is sometimes also done by the school nurse.)
Be sure to mention to the pediatrician anything you have noticed in your child related to his or her vision. You can look online to see a list of some of the obvious signs of a visual problem with your child. The most common signs are needing to look at books or a television or other screen very close, and/or squinting. Rubbing one’s eyes may be another sign.
If your pediatrician suspects a problem after performing a routine visual screening, they should recommend a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, according to The American Ophthalmologist Association, www.aoa.org. An exam should begin with a case study using relevant information that you provide to this doctor. This exam is for more thorough than a screening and involves using retinoscopy to look into your child’s eyes, and checking how your child’s eyes focus and follow a moving object and other visual tasks that your eyes typically do automatically. Following this exam, if there is a problem, a diagnosis will follow.
Farsightedness in young children, medically known as hyperopia, is more common than you might imagine. Children and adults who are farsighted typically have difficulty seeing things clearly that are close. Corrective lenses may or may not be recommended, but in any case this problem should be monitored by this eye doctor who will inform you how often an eye exam should be performed on your child. Also common in young children is nearsightedness, or myopia. That cute kid wearing glasses that you spotted on the playground likely has myopia.
If corrective lenses are recommended for your little one, regardless of their age, the child should be actively involved in picking out comfortable and attractive eyeglass frames. You wouldn’t want to wear ugly or uncomfortable glasses; the same goes for your child! Check to see specifics about your family medical insurance related to visual coverage; that may determine where do you and what sort of professional to see for the fitting and purchase of eyewear for your child.
A young child needing glasses is a relatively small blip in the medical life of your child and is typically not indicative of a larger or more serious problem. You the parent need to make the process of choosing eyewear a fun process.