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Does Your Child Need Eyeglasses?

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
A little boy having testing his eyes in the doctor's office with a phoropter

Children rely on all their senses, especially their eyesight, to experience new things and learn about the world. But some children develop vision problems early, which can make it difficult to focus correctly.

Most vision problems are inherited. Three common vision problems that children face are:

  • Nearsightedness, or myopia, which is generally discovered in children ages 7 to 14. They can see things that are close, such as books, but have trouble seeing things farther away, such as the school blackboard.
  • Farsightedness, or hyperopia, which means they can see faraway objects, but not close-up things. Hyperopia usually develops around ages 2 to 3.
  • Astigmatism, which makes vision seem blurred at any distance.

Signs to watch for

Adam Peiffer, OD, MS, pediatric optometrist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s, says children should have their eyes checked starting around 6 months old and then regularly throughout childhood.

“After age 5 or 6, they should get a checkup once every year or two,” he says. He recommends contacting your pediatrician if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Trouble keeping eye contact by 3 months
  • Crossed eyes or one eye that turns out
  • Trouble following an object with her or his eyes by 3 months
  • Apparent inability to see

Dr. Peiffer notes other signs of a vision problem include:

  • Squinting or closing one eye a lot
  • Getting close to a book when reading
  • Having trouble seeing the chalkboard at school
  • Rubbing the eyes a lot
  • Having headaches
  • Tilting the head to use one eye only

Seeing clearly

Eyeglasses will help, but not cure, vision problems. Contact lenses may be an option for some older children and teens.

“Of course, some children may not want to wear glasses,” says Dr. Peiffer. He offers ways parents can encourage their children:

  • Try giving them some say on the choice of the frame. The vision center at UH Rainbow Ahuja Center for Women & Children in MidTown Cleveland offers one of the largest selection of pediatric frames in the region.
  • Let them bring a friend to the eye doctor to help get a “peer opinion” on the best frame.
  • Point out that some of their role models – athletes, musicians, even Mom or Dad – wear glasses.

Other tips for parents:

  • Give your child at least seven to 10 days for their eyes to adapt to the glasses. “If they still have problems – such as blurred vision or feeling like the eyes are ‘pulling’ – call your eye doctor,” says Dr. Peiffer.
  • If your child develops pressure marks on the nose and behind the ears, return to your eye doctor so that the glasses can be adjusted to fit better.
  • To maintain the life of the glasses, teach your child to put them in the case when he or she is not wearing them. Use soapy water and a soft cloth to clean the glasses. Do not use paper towels or tissues, which may scratch the lenses.

Related Links

The team at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology treats a wide range of pediatric eye conditions and diseases, from the routine to the complex. Learn more.