By: Dr. Amber Teten, Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor
One common question a pediatric eye doctor may get from parents is why their child may need glasses. It’s a valid concern and one that we are happy to address. First and foremost, it’s important to understand that vision problems can affect children of all ages. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1 in 4 children has a vision problem that requires treatment. So, suppose you suspect your child may be having difficulty with their vision. In that case, it’s essential to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Teten, a pediatric eye doctor, as soon as possible.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your child may need glasses:
Nearsightedness, or myopia, is a common refractive error that causes distant objects to appear blurry while things up close remain clear. This occurs when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) is too curved. Nearsightedness typically develops in children between 6 and 12 but can occur at any age. Myopia can worsen over time, leading to more severe vision problems if left untreated.
The treatment plan for a child with myopia may include prescription glasses or contact lenses to correct the refractive error. In recent years, MiSight contact lenses have become an increasingly popular treatment option for myopia management in children. These soft contact lenses are specifically designed to slow down myopia progression in children, helping to reduce the risk of future vision problems. Other treatment options may include atropine eye drops, orthokeratology, and vision therapy.
Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is another common refractive error that causes objects up close to appear blurry while distant objects remain clear. This occurs when the eyeball is too short, or the cornea is too flat. Farsightedness is more common in younger children and can sometimes go undetected if the child can compensate for the refractive error. However, farsightedness can cause eyestrain, headaches, and difficulty with reading and other close-up tasks if left untreated. The treatment plan for a farsighted child may include prescription glasses or contact lenses to correct the refractive error.
Astigmatism is a refractive error that causes distorted or blurred vision at all distances. This occurs when the cornea or lens is shaped irregularly, causing light to be focused unevenly on the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). Astigmatism can occur on its own or in combination with nearsightedness or farsightedness.
The treatment plan for a child with astigmatism typically involves prescription glasses or contact lenses to correct the irregular curvature of the cornea. In some cases, vision therapy may also be recommended to improve visual acuity and coordination.
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned and do not point in the same direction. If left untreated, this can cause double vision, difficulty with depth perception, and amblyopia (lazy eye). Strabismus can be treated with glasses, vision therapy, or in some cases, surgery.
The treatment plan for a child with strabismus may include glasses, contact lenses, or vision therapy. The specific treatment approach will depend on the severity and underlying cause of the strabismus and will be determined by Dr. Teten.
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is when the brain favors one eye over the other, causing the weaker eye to become underdeveloped. This can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Amblyopia is most commonly caused by strabismus or a significant difference in refractive error between the two eyes. Treatment for amblyopia may involve glasses or vision therapy.
Other vision problems
In addition to the common vision problems discussed in the previous section, other eye conditions can lead to a child needing to wear glasses. For example, congenital cataracts cloud the eye’s lens, which can be present at birth or develop shortly after that. This can cause significant vision problems, and glasses may be necessary to correct the refractive error associated with the cataract. Another condition requiring glasses is retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which can occur in premature infants who have received high levels of oxygen therapy. ROP can cause scarring and abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina, leading to vision problems that may require glasses or other forms of treatment.
Additionally, children with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, may be at increased risk for developing eye problems that require glasses or other interventions. As pediatric eye doctors, we are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of eye conditions in children. We work closely with families to ensure their children receive the care and treatment they need to maintain healthy vision.
It’s important to note that many children may not be aware that they have a vision problem, as they may not have a reference point for what “normal” vision looks like. Additionally, vision problems can manifest as behavioral or academic issues rather than specific complaints about vision. This is why it’s so important for children to have regular eye exams, even if they don’t seem to be experiencing any problems with their vision.
There are many reasons why a child may need glasses, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, strabismus, and amblyopia. These conditions can have a significant impact on a child’s vision and overall development, so it’s important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of vision problems and to schedule regular eye exams for their children. Dr. Teten, a pediatric eye doctor, is committed to providing high-quality care and treatment for children with vision problems. We work closely with parents to ensure that their children receive the appropriate treatment, whether that involves glasses, vision therapy, or surgery. By detecting and treating vision problems early, we can help children to achieve their full potential and lead healthy, happy lives.
If you have a child with one or more eye conditions, your child may benefit from glasses. Have your child evaluated by a qualified pediatric eye doctor. Dr. Teten encourages parents to bring their children in for regular eye exams to ensure their eyes are healthy and their vision is properly developing. Call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment online. We are fully equipped and prepared to care for you and your family.