How do you know when your child needs glasses? It’s not like your child knows something is wrong. You won’t hear, “Hey, mom! I think I need glasses.” So how do you know when your child is having trouble seeing?
According to VSP Vision Care (a vision insurance provider), these are some signs you can look for in your child. If you notice any of these, it might be time to take your child to the eye doctor.
- Favoring one eye. Your child may be covering one of their eyes in order to see better.
- Eye rubbing. This might be a sign of eye tiredness due to over-working.
- Sitting too close to the television.
- Losing place while reading.
- Frequent headaches. In fourth grade, this symptom tipped off my parents that I needed glasses. I regularly came home from school in tears because my head hurt so badly.
The items listed above are the most telling signs that your little one might need glasses. So if your kid is not doing any of these things, they should be fine, right?
We found out our son needed glasses.
During my son’s four year old well-child appointment, our pediatrician brought out a device called PediaVision. He explained that it helps detect eye problems in children early. Hopefully, doing so prevents problems due to poor vision later on in school. The device looked like this:
The nurse stood about 2 feet away from my son and told him to look into it. In 5 seconds, she told me it looked like he had an astigmatism in both eyes as well as myopia (near-sightedness). Say what? You got all of that in five seconds? She told me I needed to take him to an optometrist to be checked out.
We made an appointment with an optometrist shortly thereafter. They asked, “Has he been squinting? Headaches?” Everything they asked us, our answer was “no.” However, shortly into the eye exam, they confirmed that he did (in fact) have a pretty bad astigmatism in each eye. He needed glasses. (An astigmatism is a defect in the eye caused by a deviation from spherical curvature. This results in distorted images since light rays are prevented from meeting at a common focus.) But because my son wasn’t reading or doing any kind of focus work yet, we never knew he had a problem. Thankfully, we caught the problem before he started Kindergarten.
But can a child keep glasses on all day?
Absolutely! A lot of people ask me how he handles his glasses in day-to-day life. In the beginning, I was nervous about sending a four year old to daycare in glasses. So we slowly got him used to them instead. When he was at home? He wore them when watching a tv show or doing art projects/coloring—basically anything that required more focus from his eyes. When he started Kindergarten, we put his glasses in his backpack and told his teacher that he needed to have them on for school work (not necessarily during recess).
However, things changed at his eye appointment the following year. He needed to be wearing his glasses all of the time. This made me nervous. But honestly? He has done great! We got him a strap to hold his glasses to his head (I know it seems dorky, but it’s necessary for a small boy!) Now, the few times we see him without glasses, he looks strange to us. We are so used to his sweet little glasses face now.
But might I suggest having a back up pair of glasses? We learned that the hard way last summer. He broke his glasses and was without them for two weeks while awaiting the creation of another pair.
Recently, we took our daughter to be checked as well. She also showed no signs of vision problems. But the pediatrician performed the PediaVison test on her as well. Guess what? She has an astigmatism in one eye. I took her to the optometrist. Sure enough, anytime her left eye was covered, she started whining saying she couldn’t see the letters. She moved her hand away from her left eye so she could see better. Who knew? She showed no signs of problems. However, the eye exam made the problem in her right eye very obvious.
Talk about the eye exam before you go.
If you find yourself taking your children to have their eyes checked, go over how the appointment will be with them ahead of time. I didn’t do this with my daughter because I figured eye appointments are easy. You just sit there while the doctor looks into your eyes and asks questions. Easy peasy, right? Wrong! Asking a 4 year old to sit still and answer questions during an eye exam? I was unaware that level of torture existed. The appointment ended in tears. I’m pretty sure the eye doctor took a shot of whiskey once we left. So do your kid a solid and give them a heads up before you go to your appointment.