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How to Tell if Your Kid Needs Glasses

How to Tell if Your Kid Needs Glasses

In the United States, $10 billion is spent on children’s vision disorders each year

Children Need Vision Care

  • 1 in 5 preschoolers enrolled in Head Start have a vision problem
  • About ⅓ of American children wear glasses or contact lenses
    • Girls: 36.2%
    • Boys: 29.1%
  • Not Every Child Has the Glasses They Need
    • 14% of 5th graders have gone without needed glasses in the last year
    • 24% of teens with correctable vision have the wrong vision prescription
      • Rises to about 33% for Mexican-American & African-American teens
  • Early Detection of Vision Problems is Essential
    • Uncorrected vision problems can
      • Impair development
      • Interfere with learning
      • Lead to permanent loss of vision
    • In preschoolers, poor vision is often linked to developmental concerns
      • Parents worry their child is falling behind
      • Clinically tested developmental problems
        • Lower cognitive function
        • Lower visual-motor function
        • Poor school-readiness
    • Preschoolers are less likely to get a vision test
      • Children who received a vision test in the last 2 years
        • Under 5: 40%
        • Age 6-11: 83%

Most children don’t complain when they can’t see well, because to them it’s normal

When to Get an Eye Exam

  • Signs Your Child is Struggling to See
    • Squinting
    • Covering one eye
    • Tilting head
    • Holding books close-up to read
  • Side-effects of Poor Vision
    • Struggling in school
    • Difficulty reading
    • Frequently rubbing eyes
    • Frequent headaches
  • Nearly half (43%) of children first notice vision problems when they have difficulty seeing the board in school
  • For infants, the signs of a vision problem may be harder to spot
    • Difficulty reaching these developmental milestones may indicate poor vision or other developmental issues
      • Maintaining eye contact (8 weeks)
      • Smiling at familiar people (3-4 months)
      • Watching and mimicking hand movements (5 months)
      • Looking at and reaching for objects (6-7 months)
      • Recognizing familiar faces (7-9 months)
      • Pointing to pictures in a book (9-12 months)

If you notice any of these signs, or are concerned about your child’s vision, it’s time for an eye exam

  • Vision Screening
    • Mandated Screening in Public Education
      • 40 states require screening for school-age children
      • 15 states require screening for preschoolers
      • Head Start and Early Head Start require screening for all students
    • Screening helps to
      • Identify children who are
        • At risk for eye disease
        • In need of an eye examination
      • Provide information about eye health
    • Screenings often focus on distance vision, so it’s important to continue getting regular check-ups for eye health
    • Screening may be performed by
      • Developmental Milestones Assessment
        • Recommended for children under 12 months
        • Evaluates visual-motor development for signs of poor vision
      • Instrument-based Screening
        • Recommended for children 1-3 years
        • Evaluates the structure of the eye for health and vision
      • Optotype Screening or Eye Chart
        • Recommended for children over 3 years
        • Evaluates visual acuity by identify symbols at a specific distance
        • May be more difficult for children from different cultural and language background
    • When indicated, screening results in a referral to an eye care professional or primary care provider for diagnosis and treatment

More than ¼ of children and parents first notice the need for glasses during an eye exam

Getting the Glasses

An eye exam provides a comprehensive evaluation of vision functioning and eye health

  • An eye exam should be performed on any child with
    • Family history of vision problems
    • Readily recognized eye abnormality
    • Risk factors for eye problems
      • Premature birth
      • Maternal smoking
      • Hearing impairment
      • Developmental delay
      • Neurological conditions
  • Childhood Vision Problems Commonly Treated With Glasses
    • Myopia (nearsightedness)
      • Children Affected
        • Under 6: 4%
        • Age 5-17: 9%
        • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
      • Children Affected:
        • Under 6: 21%
        • Age 5-17: 13%
        • Astigmatism (blurry vision)
      • Children Affected
        • Age 5-17: 15-28%
    • Amblyopia (lazy eye) & Strabismus
      • Amblyopia (lazy eye): Vision is stronger in one eye than the other
      • Strabismus: Misalignment of the eyes
      • Causes problems with binocular vision and depth perception
      • Affects around 2% of children under the age of 6
      • Treatment for these conditions is most effective before age 7
  • Getting Your Child to Wear Their Glasses
    • Let your child pick out their own frames
    • Introduce glasses slowly, starting with activities they enjoy
    • Point out favorite celebrities or characters who wear glasses (e.g. Harry Potter)
    • Praise and reward times they wear their glasses without reminding
    • Explain the importance of wearing glasses to their eye health
  • Getting your child to wear their glasses might not be as hard as you think
    • Parents underestimate how much their children like wearing glasses
      • 48% of parents think their child likes wearing glasses
      • 58% of children actually like wearing glasses
      • Young children are even happier with wearing glass es
        • Age 10-14: 60%
        • Age 15-17: 53%

Good vision is an important part of your child’s success—know how to spot the signs of poor eyesight and get your child the glasses they need.

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