Do Your Kids Need Glasses? Here’s How to Know

As a family doctor and parenting expert, I answer a lot of questions from parents – everything from what should I do with a kid who talks back, to how do I know if my kid can actually see the (smart) board?

One that I get often, here and in the office, is about kids and eyesight. Although some schools and doctors offices do routine screenings, there may be times where parents need to get involved. Here is some important info on your kids’ vision.

Why Kids’ Vision is Important

Did you know that 1 out of 5 preschoolers in Headstart have trouble with their vision? Another surprising statistic –  one in three kids wear glasses. Just think of how many kids may have vision issues that are going undiagnosed?

Kids eyesight is important! Poor eyesight is linked to development concerns like poor school-readiness, lower motor function, and lower cognitive function. It’s no surprise that kids who have trouble seeing have trouble reading. Would it also surprise you to know that kids with undiagnosed issues leading to reading delay also can make those kids hate school? It can interfere with learning, cause developmental delays and in extreme cases loss of vision.

When Should You Get Your Kiddo an Eye Exam?

If you are concerned about your child’s eyesight ask your child’s doctor. They should be able to walk you through the next steps. Some signs that your child is having trouble with their vision that warrants a conversation with your doctor are:

  • Squinting
  • Complaining about not being able to see the blackboard from the back of the room
  • Tilting Their Head
  • Covering One Eye
  • Holding Books or Papers Up Closely
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Rubbing Eyes Frequently
  • Difficulty Reading
  • Struggling in School

If you see any of these signs, talk with their doctor and they will determine if they need an eye exam and what kind.

Getting your kids to wear their glasses…

So, your kids need glasses, now what? If your child is small, you may worry about them losing or breaking their glasses frequently or what if they get picked on by their classmates for looking different. It’s natural to worry about these things – after all, glasses are EXPENSIVE and kids can be tough when there is something different!!!

But look at this as another chance to build responsibility and resilience in your child. Helping your child overcome the challenge of wearing glasses can be an important lesson for them to learn.

Here are some tips for building resilience and responsibility for your new glass-wearing kiddos:

  • Every body’s got something. This is a great time to teach your child that everyone – really everyone – has something going on that isn’t going so well. Sometimes you can tell, like someone who wears glasses, or needs a hearing aid, or depends on an device (like a wheelchair or crutches) to help them move around. Most of the time you can’t see the obstacle. But everyone’s got one. What matters is not being perfect – nobody is – it’s accepting who we are and doing what needs to get done. A patient of mine has Type 1 diabets – he’s 7 – and he needs to stick himself with a needle 7 or so times a day to check his blood sugar. His mom taught him “we don’t bother complaining about that which can’t be helped” and he’s said that lots of times to his classmates about all kinds of things!
  • Glasses are amazing! Prep your child before they get those spectacles to be astounded by how much better everything will look!  Reading a scoreboard or a street sign will be easier. Cartoons will be funnier. Seeing the goofy look grandpa gets on his face right before he passes gas will give your child the chance they need to get out of the smell-zone…  Adding humor to the moment and making sure your kiddo looks for the positives will help build resilience.
  • The first pair is… free! If your child is old enough for an expensive device (cell phone, tablet. etc.) then they are old enough to start taking responsibility for the expense of their glasses as well. Let your child know that the first pair lost or carelessly broken will mean your child has to pay a portion of the replacement. That percentage should probably go up the more pairs they lose or break.  And do yourself and your child a favor – DON’T get the really expensive ones! If you can afford the shatter resistant lenses, though, that might be worth it. And get a safety strap and safety glass for sports. And maaayybe a second pair to start with…

Parents, what are your questions about kiddos and glasses? Leave them in the comments below! If you have been through this with your kids, leave a comment with your tips!

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Be sure to check out this great infographic from FramesDirect.com with more information:

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