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When Is the Right Time to Think About Kids Prescription Glasses?

Vision problems can significantly affect your child’s learning in and out of the classroom. That’s why most parents take their kids at least once annually for a vision exam, with the first exam being done once the child turns one.

What if their first vision exam reveals they need to wear kids prescription glasses? Is it too early? What are some early signs that can help you detect vision problems, and how can you get your child to wear their glasses?

Why Children Need to Wear Prescription Glasses

Several reasons compel optometrists to prescribe glasses for kids. These include:

  • Improving the position of the eyes for crossed eyes or misaligned eyes

  • Strengthening the vision in a weak or amblyopic eye, also known as lazy eye

  • Nearsightedness or myopia

  • Astigmatism, which causes objects to appear distorted because light does not land evenly on the retina

  • Hyperopia or farsightedness

When Is It Okay to Get My Child Prescription Glasses?

A child should start visiting the eye doctor for vision exams starting at the age of one. However, if you detect vision problems earlier, a baby as young as a few months old can get prescription glasses.

Optometrists state that kids usually become farsighted or nearsighted between the age of 6 and 12. Sometimes, farsightedness may be diagnosed during infancy, necessitating prescription glasses.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommend that preschoolers, infants, and school-age children receive screening for vision problems at least once every two years for school-going kids.

The earlier they’re detected, and your child is put on prescription glasses, the easier it is to arrest potentially serious complications.

Boy lounging around the house with glasses

“At Grayson’s 1 year well check, our amazing pediatrician did a standard eye exam with this fancy camera thing. He called back saying it was abnormal, that we would need to go see pediatric ophthalmology. Grayson was diagnosed with mild strabismus in one eye and his vision in the same eye isn’t great. I was so surprised as I had never noticed the strabismus prior (I do now when he’s tired or focusing hard on something) and developmentally the way he plays and interacts you would never guess he had poor vision in one eye. Neither Rob or I have ever had to wear glasses, this was all pretty foreign to me. I’d be lying if I said my mama heart didn’t hurt when we got his diagnosis and was told he’d need glasses. But the beauty is, catching this early is a great prognosis per Peds Optho, he may not need glasses forever as we correct the issues now (with glasses and wearing a patch for a certain amount of time every day) since he’s so young and growing.” - Lesley

Signs Your Child Might Need Prescription Glasses

These are a few common signs that indicate your child might need prescription glasses:

  • Squinting – squinting is a sign of refractive error that affects how well the eye focuses on an image. Squinting allows the child to improve the focus and clarity of an object.

  • Having the television or hand-held devices too close to the eyes and lowering the head while reading – all these are signs of poor vision, most likely myopia or nearsightedness.

  • Tilting the head or covering one eye – your child might do this to improve clarity. It may indicate that their eyes are misaligned, or they have amblyopia or lazy eye.

  • Rubbing eyes excessively – this may be a sign of eye fatigue or eye strain. It may also signify other vision problems such as allergic conjunctivitis.

  • Headaches or eye pain

  • Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork – during school, children have to adaptively shift their focus from the chalkboard to textbooks and computers. Difficulty shifting their focus may be a sign of vision problems.

How to Get Your Child to Wear Glasses

Getting your child to wear their prescription glasses might be harder than getting them through their vision exam. But these are some strategies you can use:

  • Encourage them to select their frames. The more they’re involved in the process, the more likely they’ll love their glasses and wear them often. Some brands offer options to swap colors with the same lens.

  • Tell them they’re looking great and doing a great job when they put on their glasses.

  • Remind them of their role models who wear glasses too.

  • Think about fun ways you can dress up with glasses on Halloween as their favorite character like Blippi!

If they persistently don’t want to wear their glasses, ensure the frame is of the right fit and the lenses are still working as prescribed. Improperly fitting glasses and worn-out lenses can cause discomfort.

Boy hanging outside on the porch.

Should My Child Wear Their Glasses Often?

It’s not a must for your child to wear their glasses 24/7. However, how often they should be on should be advised by your optometrist.

Generally, they should have them on when they feel comfortable and need them. The activities they’re participating in can also necessitate wearing them.

Start Looking for Your Child’s Prescription Glasses

As soon as you’ve established your child needs glasses, get in touch with a qualified vendor who has the right frame sizes and prescription lenses for your child’s vision needs. They should also offer try on frame samples so you can try on the frame sizes before you buy.


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