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Signs Your Child Needs Glasses

Updated on May 22, 2013
"Mom, I think I need glasses!"
"Mom, I think I need glasses!" | Source

Is your child complaining of headaches, blurry vision or rubbing his eyes a lot? As a parent, there are many symptoms you need to be aware of concerning your child's vision. If you notice any of the signs below, it would be a good idea to have your child's eyes checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Popular Eyeglasses for Kids

  • Disney
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  • Roxy
  • Nike
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  • Converse
  • Scooby Doo
  • Ray Ban

How to Tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

Make sure your child participates in the vision screening at school. Basic vision checks are also normally performed at a child's annual wellness visit at the pediatrician. Both of these are good baseline tests to alert parents to potential vision issues. In addition, parents and teachers are most likely to suspect a child needs to have his vision checked by watching for these symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Squinting
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Sitting too close to the TV
  • Losing place while reading
  • Covering one eye
  • Excessive tearing

What is the Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist?

Both of these specialist treat eyes, but what is the difference? An optometrist is the primary care physician for anything eye related. They are primarily trained to fit eye glasses and contact lenses but can also detect common eye issues. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has a specialty in the study of eyes. They can treat eye diseases and perform surgeries. So which one do you need to take your child too? Start with the optometrist. If he detects anything more than normal vision refraction problems, then go to a pediatric opthalmologist for further care.

Child ready for first eye exam
Child ready for first eye exam | Source
 A typical Snellen chart. Originally developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862, to estimate visual acuity. When printed out at this size, the E on line one will be 88.7 mm (3.5 inches) tall and when viewed at a distance of 20 ft (= 60
A typical Snellen chart. Originally developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862, to estimate visual acuity. When printed out at this size, the E on line one will be 88.7 mm (3.5 inches) tall and when viewed at a distance of 20 ft (= 60 | Source

Nearsightedness or Farsightedness

Your child's visit to the eye doctor may determine he or she is either nearsighted or farsighted. Nearsighted or myopia means that you have difficulty seeing objects from a distance. Farsighted or hyperopia means you have trouble seeing things up close. If you think of each base word meaning the opposite of its definition, it is easy to remember. Example, far means you can't see up close. Near means you can't see far away.

If your child is farsighted, she will likely only need to wear glasses for reading and desk work. Nearsightedness may require glasses to be worn all the time. Of course, this is dependent upon your doctor's assessment and diagnosis. In childhood, sometimes vision problems can correct themselves by wearing corrective lenses for a period of time.


1930's Works Progress Administration poster recommending eye examinations for children having difficulty learning
1930's Works Progress Administration poster recommending eye examinations for children having difficulty learning | Source

Vision Problems can Resemble Learning Difficulties

Sometimes a child may not tell you he or she is having difficulty in seeing because they do not know any different than what they see. With 80 percent of all learning taking place visually, a child's vision is crucial to his learning. According to the American Optometric Association, sometimes undiagnosed vision problems can be mistaken for learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly know as ADHD. If a child is having problems seeing his schoolwork, it makes sense that he may be more fidgety and distracted. If your student is easily distracted and having trouble focusing at school, it may be a good idea to have her vision checked before jumping to other conclusions.

Boy with glasses
Boy with glasses | Source

Make Getting Glasses a Fun Experience

If the vision exam determines your child needs corrective lenses, he or he may feel nervous and self conscious about getting glasses. My nine year-old daughter is farsighted and thought she would be viewed as a nerd by her peers. It was a good opportunity for us to discuss how a person's appearance does not define who they are or their personality.

When it is time to shop for glasses, make a fun afternoon out of it. Go to several stores and let your son or daughter try on whatever style they like just as long as it is the proper fit and is in your budget. Encourage them to make silly faces and serious faces in when they try them on, just to lighten it up a bit. Your child will take their cues on the whole experience from you.

Helpful Hints When Buying Children's Glasses

  1. Do comparison shopping and watch for sales. Lenscrafters, Walmart and Pearle Vision frequently offer sales.
  2. Optometrists are usually the most expensive retailer of glasses, but they may give you the best fit.
  3. Pay the extra charge for the scratch proof coating on the lenses. This will pay off in the long run.
  4. Make sure your child has a hard case to store the glasses.
  5. Determine what amount your vision insurance will cover.
  6. If you have a flex spending account, most eye glasses can be reimbursed.
  7. Discuss with your child your expectations for when the glasses need to be worn.
  8. Make sure your child's teacher is aware that your child needs to wear glasses.

When Should Kids Wear Contact Lenses?

How old do you think children need to be to wear contact lenses?

See results

Age Guidelines for Vision Checks

Age
Pediatrician
School Vision Check
Optometrist
Pediatric Opthalmologist
newborn
x
 
 
 
six months
x
 
 
 
twelve months
x
 
 
 
preschool (annually)
x
x
 
 
school age (annually)
 
x
 
 
suspected vision problems
 
 
x
x
advanced eye issues, diseases
 
 
 
x
corrective lenses (annually)
 
 
x
 

Resources

American Optometric Association: http://www.aoa.org

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus:http://www.aapos.com

American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org

American Academy of Opthalmology: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/children.cfm


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    • profile image

      ShamontielLVaughn 3 years ago

      The only tip I'd like to add to your entry (which was very useful) is make sure those nose pads can hold the glasses steady. I wore a pair of Vogue glasses for years and they were so light on my face. Prescription in contacts was a -6.0 and I have astigmatism so naturally my glasses are thicker. But I got a new pair this past summer that were a little more chic and square instead of round. Big mistake. By thicker lenses being cut in square glasses, the glasses weigh more so I now have those stupid nose pad marks on the sides of my nose. I rotate between my glasses when I'm home because the second pair just feels heavier, especially once a lens popped out and I had to get it replaced. Sometimes chic doesn't always mean worthy.

    • profile image

      ShamontielLVaughn 3 years ago

      I voted for 14 or older because keeping up with contacts can be expensive and require a lot of maintenance. I remember my mother being livid that I took one of my annual contacts out because it was driving me nuts during spring allergy season. I told her the only way she'd understand how to deal with dirty contacts is to wear them. There is nothing more distracting than contacts flipping out in your eyes, and as a kid, you want them OUT. As a teenager who a parent can make get a part-time job to pay for destroying contacts, we appreciate it a little more. I got mine at 15. As for when kids should wear glasses, what alerted my own mother was my change in grades. I was in third grade, but I really had no idea that I even needed glasses. All I knew was I couldn't see the board, got frustrated and just started filling in random answers on test scores, etc. A medicine-crazy parent would've probably assumed I had ADD or ADHD but my mother started with the basics and asked me what in the world was going on with her A+ daughter. I don't even know how she figured out I needed glasses because I never said I did nor did I even think of that possibility. But when I got glasses and walked in that classroom, BOOM! I felt like the winner on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" I was absolutely fascinated to see all that writing on the board that I hadn't seen in weeks/months/not sure. I hated wearing them for vanity reasons. I'm still a little on the vain side at 32 when it comes to wearing glasses, but I've found myself far more comfortable wearing them when I get a really nice fashionable pair.

    • LauraGSpeaks profile image
      Author

      LauraGSpeaks 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Brainy, I am glad your children have perfect vision after all. A lot of parents think they need a pediatric specialist when having that first eye exam, but they really don't, unless the pediatrician has reason to suspect a more serious condition.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      This is a very informative hub. My son was exhibiting several signs of nearsightedness, so we decided to get both our kids checked out. We made the mistake of using a pediatric ophthalmologist rather than an optometrist, and the kids sat through hours of unnecessary (and very expensive!) testing for no reason. Turns out they both have perfect vision after all (although they will likely need glasses some time down the road).