Your child has nearsightedness (myopia). Children who are nearsighted usually have no difficulty seeing up close; however, their vision is blurred in the distance. Children with nearsightedness require glasses or contacts to help them see in the distance.
Parents are frequently concerned that their child will become dependent on the glasses if they are worn too much. This is, in reality, not correct. The glasses themselves do not have any effect on the nearsightedness. Thus, if your child is going to become more nearsighted or less nearsighted, this will happen whether or not the child wears glasses. The only thing that the glasses do is allow the child to see clearly in the distance. In general, children have a tendency to become more nearsighted as they grow toward their mid-teenage years. This is the reason that people have gotten the impression that children can become dependent on glasses. In reality, just as a child grows, the eyes have a tendency to change usually in the direction of nearsightedness. In view of this, it is important that a child be check at yearly intervals. Should, however, you notice your child to be squinting or if they complain of difficulty seeing off in the distance, they should b re-evaluation sooner than one year.
Parents frequently are concerned about the amount of time a child should wear the glasses. At a bare minimum, a child who has nearsightedness should use the glasses to help see the blackboard in school. If the child prefers to sit at home and watch television or go to movies and not see quite as well as he might with his glasses, this is not cause for concern as it will in no way injure the eyes. As the nearsightedness increases, children recognize how well they see with their glasses and will frequently place their glasses on first thing in the morning and wear them throughout the day. This will in no way injure the eyes, but will rather provide them with good, clear vision throughout the day.
Contact lenses can be worn by most children. I usually prefer to wait until the children are a minimum of 9 years old so that eh child is mature enough to properly care for the lenses and motivated enough to wear them. One major concern relating to contact lenses that parents often have is the cost of replacing contact lenses if the child needs a stronger prescription. Fortunately, the fee for replacing contact lenses runs about the same as the cost of a new pair of glasses. The original fee for contacts is understandably higher to cover the cost for the initial fitting and initial follow up visits. Although some people may tell you that nearsightedness can be prevented or delayed by wearing contact lenses, there is unfortunately no scientific evidence to support this, although on occasion, I do see children whose nearsightedness seems to “slowdown” after being fit with contact lenses.
The use of glasses in sports activities should be encouraged as this will provide your child with normal vision during the activity. Since nearsighted children have difficulty seeing objects off in the distance, the use of glasses or contacts in sports played at a distance with small object such as baseball or tennis, may very well improve their performance. The one sport where the use of glasses is not quite as critical would be an activity such as soccer where the ball is large and, in addition, the children frequently use their head to make contact with the ball.
Glasses are purchase at an optician. If you do not have one, I recommend our opticians at Thomas Eye Wear. They specialize in children’s glasses and will help guide you to the proper spectacles for your child. Contact lenses are fitted here in the office. If you have any questions in this regard, further information is available.
There is almost never any difficulty getting children, even young children, to wear glasses, if a positive attitude is taken by the people around the child. Should you have any questions or concerns, I hope you will communicate them to me.
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