Does my child really need glasses | Why do so many kids wear glasses?

Does my child really need glasses

Nowadays, children wearing glasses is a common scene everywhere. Does my child really need glasses

Approximately 25.5% of school kids in India, aged between 2 to 17 years, possess abnormal vision? As per a survey titled ‘Enhancing the Effectiveness and Impact of Schools: Insights from School Health Screening Program’ conducted by Jarma Wellness, more than 1,76,240 kids were covered from 40 K-12 schools and 300 pre-primary centers. 

These kids belonged to various socio-economic backgrounds connecting different cities including Mathura, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Renukoot, Kolkata/Howrah, Patna, Sambalpur, Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Nagpur, Bharuch, Pune, Mysore, Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Coimbatore, and Hyderabad. 

It has been found out that 1 in every 2 kids in India is in need of eyeglasses. Hence, the concern of why so many kids wear glasses really needs attention. 

Famous ophthalmologist Johns Hopkins opined that the visual system in a child is still developing during the initial 7 to 8 years of life. Hence, glasses are given to the kids to support their vision. 

Again, the number of kids with untreated hyperopia/ myopia and using eyeglasses reached approximately 50% in the higher secondary section. Moreover, 1 in every 3 kids wear glasses but still, they face vision issues. It is due to the absence of periodic screening after the initial evaluation. 

Classification of common eye problems in children:

Does my child really need glasses | Why do so many kids wear glasses?

Eye allergy:

Eye allergies can affect kids of any age including toddlers. Mostly, allergies are caused by pollens, mold, and pet dander.

Bacterial conjunctivitis:

Bacteria is the culprit behind it.

Allergic Conjunctivitis:

Pollen, pet dander, and mold can cause allergic conjunctivitis. 

Viral Conjunctivitis:

It is caused by viruses. For example-common cold. 

Refractive errors:

Hyperopia, astigmatism, and myopia

Amblyopia or lazy eye:

This disorder lays an impact on visual acuity and affects vision development.

Strabismus or Crossed eye:

It happens when the kids’ eyes are not aligned or move in the same direction.

Epiphora or Childhood Tearing:

Excessive tearing in kids can be noticed soon after birth and infancy. A rare occurrence of tearing in children include ocular surface disease and pediatric glaucoma.

Cortical Visual Impairment:

CVI is a loss of vision caused because of the visual center’s abnormality in the brain. 

Developmental Abnormalities:

In certain cases, abnormalities in the visual system happen during the fetus’s development. Coloboma, microphthalmia or small eye, optic nerve hypoplasia, etc. are some of the issues. 

Double Vision:

Double Vision or Diplopia can occur due to misalignment of the eyes. Kids, in this case, see an object in two separate places at the same time.

Coming to the most important question often raised by parents:

Will my child outgrow farsightedness?

Every child is different and so as the symptoms. Some kids may get relieved from the symptoms while others may suffer from increased symptoms. An annual comprehensive eye examination can keep track of the farsightedness and help in managing it. 

Parents! Follow these steps:

  • You must take your kid to an eye doctor for a check-up after age 6.
  • If the optometrist doesn’t prescribe any contact lenses or glasses for your kids, do not worry as all farsightedness doesn’t require corrective glasses. 
  • Always ask the ophthalmologist what is right for the eyes of your children. 

Farsightedness in babies: Is farsightedness curable?

Most babies are born with farsightedness. The eyeballs lengthen with growth. With age, farsightedness decreases and the kid achieves normal vision. Young kids are often diagnosed with developmental hyperopia. Besides, hyperopia often persists in families. 

There may be no symptoms seen in your little kid with mild hyperopia. The kid can remain comfortable with both far and near vision. The requirement of accommodating depends on the degree of farsightedness which may result in mild headache or discomfort, especially with prolonged reading and watching television. Often, kids tend to rub their eyes and have inflamed eyelids. In the worst cases, the near vision of the kids gets blurred. 

Often, many kids don’t require contact lenses or glasses. Kids having severe problems can get benefit from convex lenses. 

Can farsightedness be prevented?

Farsightedness is difficult to prevent. A vision screening can prevent extra eye work or many years of poor vision. Kids from families with a history of farsightedness should go for a formal eye examination at a very early age. 

Again, according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), farsightedness in kids doesn’t need any typical correction because the eyes can accommodate with respect to the refractive error on their own. The focusing muscles ensure clear vision including near and far. However, treatments are available for severe cases like crossed eyes, blurred vision, etc.

Additionally, farsightedness in kids can be cured or corrected with prescription eyeglasses. Prescribed glasses should be fitted directly to the concerned kid. They may not require any corrective lenses while looking at nearby items or reading. 

Then, bifocals are needed for Accommodative Esotropia. 

FDA doesn’t approve laser surgery for kids who are under 18 years of age. As per a journal titled ‘Review of Ophthalmology’, corrective refractive surgery is a valid option for kids with extreme cases. Certain procedures such as LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis), and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) may be needed repeatedly for twice or thrice before adulthood. 

Can you correct farsightedness naturally?

Yes, Farsightedness can be corrected naturally by following a proper and consistent Diet, Exercise, and Yoga. Kids, when found to have farsightedness can cure it in their early stages while following these natural methods.

Nimrod Madar, the CEO of GlassesOFF quoted, “The quality of vision is determined by the eye and the way it captures images, but it’s the brain which processes the information.” He also added, “So at the end of the day, your vision is in the brain just like you experience touch, smell or anything else.”

Diet

Diet plays an important role in improving eyesight by correcting farsightedness. Regular intake of food that are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, lutein, beta carotene, etc. helps in maintaining healthy eyesight and improve vision. Children must consume fruits like mangoes and oranges, almonds, sunflower seeds, fresh garlic, carrots, spinach, kale, sardine and salmon fish, etc. regularly. 

Exercises

It was over 100 years ago when ophthalmologist William Bates opined that there was no need for eyeglasses. Eye exercises on regular basis can improve and even return the original vision that is in its younger state. Techniques including palming (closing eyes and placing palm gently over the closed eyes-> staying in that position for a few minutes-> repeating), sunning ( application of a controlled amount of light on the eyes while they are closed). 

Yoga

Up and Down Rotation can improve eyesight if done regularly. The kids must sit in a meditation pose, and then move the eyes up and down. The same movements should be repeated every 15 minutes. The next one is Side to Side Rotation. These movements are very helpful in curing diseases such as Hypermetropia and Myopia. 

Can a child outgrow nearsightedness?

Is your child complaining that he/she is having a problem locating far away objects? It means your child has myopia or nearsightedness. Nearsightedness can take bad shape during childhood and adolescence. The child has to use eyeglasses for correcting it. A multifocal contact lens is very useful in this case. 

Also, the doctor prescribes eye drops like pirenzepine gel, atropine, cyclopentolate, etc. to slow down myopia’s progression in kids. 

Outdoor activities help the child outgrow nearsightedness. It’s very important to let the kids play outdoors. As a parent, you must check your child’s TV and computer screen exposure.

Does nearsightedness improve with age?

Usually, myopia or nearsightedness runs in family. It starts in childhood. Eye drops mentioned above and a multifocal lens can help in reducing the problems of farsightedness. The human eyes usually stop changing after teenage. But, it doesn’t happen in 100% of the cases. 

You must know that myopia or nearsightedness is not a disease of eyes. Rather, it is a refractive error that is caused by the growing of eyeball too long during an individual’s childhood. If it happens, entering light can’t focus on the retina (light-sensitive) in the back of the eye. Rather, the light focuses on the front of the retina. Hence, the individual’s vision becomes blurred when he/she view distant objects. 

Once myopia becomes stabilized after the age of 18 to 20, laser eye surgery like LASIK can help in the long term. 

How do you know if a baby needs glasses?

Many times, children fail to understand and say if they can’t see or are facing problems in seeing things from a distance. Added, parents are heard saying “I don’t think my child needs glasses.” Often, the symptoms of children’s eye conditions are not prominent and hence, overlooked.    

Signs that will tell you if your child needs glasses:

  • Squinting: It can be a significant sign that your baby possesses a refractive error laying influence on how well his/her eyes can focus on any image. The baby can temporarily boost the focus as well as clarity of objects through squinting. 
  • Excessive Rubbing of eyes: If your kid is rubbing his/her eyes excessively, it may indicate that he/she is experiencing eye strain or fatigue. In fact, this can be a potential sign of allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Covering one eye or tilting head: Notice if your child is tilting his/her head or covering one eye for adjusting the vison’s angle for increasing clarity. If he/she is doing one of these activities, then he/she may have misaligned eyes. Also, it may indicate that the kid has Amblyopia or lazy eye.
  • Eye pain or headache: If your child is complaining of a headache or eye pain, it indicates that he/she may be straining the eyes to see objects clearly which are otherwise blurred.
  • Watching television or computer from close proximity: If your child is sitting too close to the computer or television, or, are holding a mobile phone lowering head for viewing clearly, then he/she may be suffering from nearsightedness or myopia. 
  • Facing difficulty in viewing board or textbook: Many times, kids complain about their inability to view board or textbook properly which triggers problems in focusing on their school project. Beware they may be suffering from nearsightedness. 

Does my child need to wear glasses all the time?

Yes. If your kid has eye problems, then he/she must wear glasses all the time unless the optometrist or orthoptist advises doing something else. By wearing glasses regularly, the vision of the child develops normally and he/she gets adjusted to the new glasses also. 

As per Megan E. Collins who is the assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, everyone assumes that an individual needs to wear glasses all the time, and it depends on the doctor’s prescription. 

Some children are nearsighted. Their glasses are only for seeing things that are far away. While some kids are farsighted and require glasses for reading purposes only. 

Additionally, if the kids are suffering from eyes’ misalignment or strabismus, they must wear glasses all the time. 

Another question that comes from the concerned parents: 

Will my child need glasses forever?

If your child has one of these eye conditions like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, etc., then a certain condition can persist permanently. But, it doesn’t confirm that the kid is bound to wear glasses for the entire life. 

But, wearing glasses according to the eye problem is suggested by the doctor mostly due to these reasons:

Common Reasons for Wearing Glasses:

Myopia: 

Usually, humans develop myopia in childhood, and unfortunately, it is a permanent condition. Kids with myopia typically suffer from a decline in vision acuity till age 20. At this age, the vision is likely to stabilize in that condition of nearsightedness that may urge the kid to wear glasses forever.

Hyperopia: 

Usually, kids with hyperopia or farsightedness outgrow the requirement of wearing glasses.

Astigmatism: 

Children with astigmatism have a vision that can be blurry at any distance as the light focuses in multiple places of the retina at a time. Hence, the kids need to wear corrective lenses for a certain period of time until proper surgery is done.

Will wearing glasses worsen your vision?

No, Wearing glasses won’t worsen the vision. But, if the child avoids wearing the prescribed glasses, normal vision development can get severely affected. 

Let’s talk about: 

TODDLER VISION TEST:

How does an ophthalmologist perform the vision test of a toddler or infant and children?

An eye doctor or ophthalmologist, preferably M.D. detects the requirement of glasses with the help of a complete eye exam. The pupils are dilated for relaxing the focusing muscles and getting the perfect measurement. The doctor use retinoscope to do the examination correctly. After that, it is prescribed if your toddler needs glasses and how the baby’s eye condition can be monitored. 

Snellen Chart:

Snellen chart
Snellen Chart

Snellen Chart: It is an eye chart used for measuring visual acuity. Snellen Chart is named after the famous Dutch Ophthalmologist named Herman Snellen. He developed the Snellen Chart in the year 1862.

LogMAR chart:

Logmar 4m ETDRS Chart 2 Original
LogMAR chart

LogMAR Chart: Logarithm of the Minimum Angle of Resolution or Bailey-Lovie Chart or ETDRS Chart consists of rows of various letters for estimating visual acuity. This chart developed in 1976 at the National Vision Research Institute of Australia is used by optometrists, ophthalmologists, vision scientists, and orthoptists. It provides a more accurate estimation of visual acuity than the Snellen Chart.

Can children’s eyesight improve?

Children’s eyesight undergoes multiple changes over time. Infants can have blurry vision. They may see things as light and dark. The eyesight sharpens with their growth. It indicates that children’s eyesight can improve with age.

Tips to improve and preserve kids’ eyesight:

Playing outside:

Nearsighted kids can obtain immense benefits from playing outside. The more they will spend time outdoors, the less the chances of needing glasses or other corrective lenses are there. As per researchers, each extra hour outdoor by the kid every week can reduce the risk of developing myopia or nearsightedness. The reduction can be up to 2%. It is seen that kids who play outdoors have fewer vision problems than kids who don’t.

According to the recommendation of the American Optometric Association, kids play outdoors and do various physical activities. Outdoor playing equipment, climbing, jogging, etc. improve their eye coordination and visual clarity. Sunlight is a good source to improve weak eyesight of the children naturally. But, parents must protect their babies’ eyes from harmful UV rays. They must encourage the little ones to wear sunglasses. 

Using toys and games:

Certain age-appropriate toys and games can boost the visual acuity and eyesight development of the children. 

Does my child really need glasses

These activities not only improve the kids’ eye coordination but also help them to memorize everything through eye-tracking.

Taking a break from TV and other digital gadgets:

Often, parents complain about toddler tears while watching TV or mobile phone. Excessive screen time can lead to digital eye strain, eye fatigue, concentration problem, headaches, etc. Taking a break from these devices can improve the kids’ eyesight. 

As per a study, approximately 83% of children aged between 10 and 17 watch digital devices for more than three hours per day.  It is advised to take 20 seconds to break every 20 minutes. Television should be viewed from 20 feet apart. Spending more time in sunlight and less time watching tv can improve and preserve the children’s eyesight.

The crucial question that every parent wants to know:

Can children’s eyesight improve with exercise?

YES, Your kid’s eyesight can improve with exercise. Easy and natural methods can help developing visual skills. Parents must encourage their little sweethearts to spend more time in the sunlight, take regular breaks from television, smartphone, and computers, and play with stimulating toys. Along with it, regular eye examinations are necessary for the kids. Take your baby to an optometrist for determining whether he/she can see properly or facing any eye problem. 

Vision Exercises for Children to Improve Eyesight
Eyes Up and DownAsk your kid to place their hands (one at above and the other at below the head level). Tell him/her to look at each hand 10 times.
Eyes Side to SideAsk your kid to place both hands at a wider distance and tell him/her to look at each hand from one side to another 10 times.
Eyes Nose to ThumbAsk your kid to place their one hand straight out keeping one thumb up. Tell him/her to look once at the nose and then at the thumb 10 times.
Eye WritingAsk your kid to draw something on a wall using their eyes only.
Following FlashlightIn a dark bedroom, shine a flashlight on various objects placed near and far. Ask your kid to follow the flashlight.
Eye ShiftingGive your child an object to hold. Ask him/her to look at it and look at another object placed at a distance. Repeat it 10 times.
Imaginary ClockAsk your kid to imagine a big clock. Tell him/her to look at a given number on that imaginary clock.
Ball TrackingTie a ball with string and swing it side to side, and back and forth, and in a circle. Ask your kid to lie down on his/her back and track the ball’s motion only with eyes. Repeat 10 times.

Diet chart for improving kids’ eyesight naturally:

Diet chart for improving kids’ eyesight naturally:
FruitsCitrus fruits like oranges, guava, lemons, etc.
Yellow fruits like papaya, mangoes, apricots, etc.
Grapes
Blueberries
LegumesBlack-eyed peas
Kidney beans
Lentils
Green leafy vegetablesBroccoli
Kale
Collard greens
Spinach
Colorful vegetablesRadish
Tomatoes
Carrots
Sweet Potato
Capsicum
Zucchini
Nuts and seedsAlmonds
Walnuts
Peanuts
Cashews
Pistachios
Flax seeds
Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Whole grainsBrown rice
Whole wheat
Fish oilSalmon
Tuna
Mackerel
Eggs, Avocados, Beef, Oyster, etc.Dark Meat is preferable
Vitamins and minerals supplementVitamin C
Vitamin E
Vitamin A
Vitamin B6, B9, and B12
Riboflavin
Niacin
Thiamine
Zinc
Copper
Lutein
Zeaxanthin
Omega 3 Fatty acidsAvailable in fish, nuts, soy, cooking oils (olive and canola), and seeds

FAQs:

What is the normal eyesight range?

20/20 is considered as healthy or normal visual acuity by the experts. In simple terms, it means an individual can clearly see an object from 20 feet away.

Will my child grow out of long-sightedness?

During birth, the eyeball of every infant remains small. Hence, most babies are long-sighted to a certain degree. The eyeball gradually grows during the kids’ first few years and they can grow out of long-sightedness. But, in some cases, the long-sightedness persists as the eyeball doesn’t grow completely. 

Does a child with 20/40 vision need glasses?

The vision of a child must be a minimum of 20/40 by the age of 3. Again, the vision must be at least 20/30 by the age of 5. In case, the refractive error is too much and the child faces problems in seeing even after age 8, experts usually recommend glasses to him/her.

How to choose the perfect glass for my baby?

Firstly, go for unbreakable glasses for kids including a highly impact-resistant polycarbonate lens as they are playful and can break glasses easily hurting themselves. Take the tiny human to the retail eyewear shop and select a good frame of round/ square or other shapes as per his/her face measurement. 

Secondly, be flexible with children’s eyewear. Go for spring and titanium hinges as they don’t break easily. You can also opt for a metal or plastic frame. Thirdly, you can put an anti-reflective coating for sharper vision. Fourthly, if the kid is under 3, opt for a silicone-covered wraparound earpiece and a soft strap to fit around his/her back of the head. Finally, check if the nose pad is comfortable for the child. 

Conclusion:

Optimal vision is needed for children to develop proper learning and socializing skills including reading, writing, doing activities, and mingling with others. Hence, it is crucial to find out if they are having eye problems through proper eye testing. 

If an ophthalmologist diagnoses any eye issue and suggests corrective glasses to the kids, kindly get it made for them without any delay. Keep watching your children and pay heed to their complaints or activities related to your eyes. Provide them better vision so that they can function properly in their environment and develop and grow healthily.

About Kavi Ranjan

Does my child really need glasses | Why do so many kids wear glasses?Hi, I'm Kavi Ranjan. An Entrepreneur, Investor, and an Activity Explorer. Having conducted various kids activity and experiential programs in the past, I am sharing my knowledge and experiences for better experiential experiences for young minds

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