Parenting your first child is often a scary tightrope walk of trial and error. There’s no handbook for these little bundles of unconditional love, and most new mommies and daddies spend the first few years terrified that they are going to cause irreversible damage to their delicate child. Don’t worry, it does get better. But it’s never easy, and there are certain things, especially when it comes to the health of your child, that you won’t be able to navigate on your own. Things like common colds or chicken pocks are easy enough to diagnose and handle, but issues with your child’s eyes can be a bit tougher to work through. Kids get fixated on things, and it can be hard to truly determine if your child is telling you his eyes hurt because he really needs glasses, or just wants to feel more grown up. So how can you tell if your child needs glasses?
The first step will be to trust your intuition. You don’t want to take it too far and be paranoid about every little thing, but you should be able to notice some potential signs of needing glasses over time. If you find your child is often squinting to see something, if they sit too close to the television, or if they hold things at arm’s length from their eyes, you may have a problem. But don’t just head to the store and pick him out a pair. Get some expert advice instead.
Start out by bringing your child to an optometrist who has a track record of dealing with children. They’ll want to run a retinoscopy on the child, which will easily determine the issues with each eye and what lenses will correct them, quickly and accurately. But on top of that, you’ll want your child to be tested for each potential eye issue. That includes myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia and strabismus. Each of those can be prevalent in children, especially if you’ve noticed some of the issues mentioned above. The only thing children aren’t commonly tested for is glaucoma, which shouldn’t be a problem unless there is a real history of that issue in your family.
Eye issues are incredibly common, and many people don’t even know they have a problem because they’ve become used to it over time. Kids are much more likely to make a fuss than to deal with it, which should help you narrow down the issue. If you think farsightedness might be the culprit, you could also wait and see if it works itself out. Since the body is still growing at an enormous rate in our childhood years, a bit of that issue is normal. But once your child has become a preteen, continued problems with farsightedness should be explored.
If you aren’t noticing issues but still want your child to be taken care of, how frequently should you have eye exams? A good rule of thumb is that once your child begins school or hits five-years-old, you should take them in for one a year. The nurse at most elementary schools will often perform a yearly eye exam, but it won’t be nearly as in depth as one done by an optometrist. If your child isn’t yet five but you are noticing problems, you can still take them in. Kids who don’t yet know the alphabet can be tested using familiar pictures or numbers. And once the problem has been diagnosed, you can buy his prescription glasses online, saving you a bit of cash. That can make a real difference, considering you’ll have to keep refitting your child as he ages.