Prescribing glasses in adults is mostly uncomplicated. Typically, it goes a little something like this: 1) you tell your doctor what looks best; 2) your doctor gives you a prescription; and 3) the glasses bring your vision into focus. Prescribing glasses for children, however, is a lot more complex.
To start, children usually lack the understanding and communication skills to convey their prescription preference until they’re well into elementary school. Fortunately, pediatric ophthalmologists can determine the correct prescription with zero input from their patients. To get the best prescription, we use eye drops that relax the focusing muscles inside the eye and give us a view through an enlarged pupil. These eye drops are a critical part of the eye exam for younger patients. Once they’ve taken effect, we can accurately measure the eyes’ focusing power and prescribe whatever is necessary.
Common Pediatric Eye Conditions
Some kids are nearsighted or have astigmatism and benefit from glasses in the same way as adults. These kids may even show signs of poor sight like squinting, struggling to see the board at school, and sitting close the television. In these cases, glasses immediately improve their vision. Around middle school, we can consider contact lens wear.
Many times, however, glasses are prescribed to younger children because of neurological vision problems. During the first seven to eight years of life, the brain is actively learning how to see. Neurological issues need to be discovered and treated during this period since it is much harder to teach the visual parts of the brain new tricks later in life.
The most common neurological vision problems are amblyopia (also known as lazy eye) and strabismus (also known as wandering eye). Children with amblyopia often will not squint or show any signs of poor vision. Some of these kids will slip through the cracks of school vision screenings and pediatrician wellness checks.
Glasses prescribed for amblyopia or strabismus may not immediately improve a child’s vision, but the glasses provide the brain with the necessary input to develop healthy binocular vision. If your child resists wearing necessary glasses, as many do, our optical specialists may be able to identify better-fitting frames or provide accessories that will help keep them in place.
When glasses alone aren’t enough, pediatric ophthalmologists are also able to offer surgical treatment for strabismus, pediatric cataracts, and a variety of other conditions.
I am always pleased to inform parents that their child can throw away their collection of beat-up glasses. In fact, some of the happiest kids we see are those who have just learned that they no longer need glasses. Glasses can be tossed aside when kids grow out of a previous prescription or when they were given glasses elsewhere that might not have been totally necessary.
Prescribing Glasses For Children At Horizon
The first seven or eight years are an important time for children’s vision. Some of the most critical vision problems to detect have no outward symptoms. Don’t wait until it’s too late for your child. Schedule an eye examination with a pediatric ophthalmologist and make sure that your kids enjoy a lifetime of healthy binocular vision.
To see one of our pediatric ophthalmologists, call us at 704-365-0555 or request an appointment online.