"Pediatric ophthalmologists can use special drops to make an independent assessment of a child's need for glasses at any age," says Dr. Granet.
- Nearsightedness (myopia) is when objects that are close appear clear while objects that are far away, do not. Glasses are not always prescribed for young children with myopia.
- Farsightedness (hyperopia) is sight that is better at a distance than at a closer range. Large amounts of farsightedness can induce eyestrain, which can lead to crossing of the eyes. "Glasses are often prescribed to help a child who is struggling to see better," Granet says.
- Astigmatism, a condition where the eye is not completely round, causes a distortion of the optical image coming into the eye. A prescription lens balances out the curvature. "Going to a doctor who can appropriately and carefully check the prescription without overcorrecting the child is important," says Granet.
- A child whose eyes start to wiggle or bounce back and forth, a condition technically known as nystagmus, should be evaluated by a specialist.
Children who need eyeglasses require a special fitting that goes beyond using smaller versions of adult eyeglasses. For example, some lens materials, such as polycarbonate, can protect children who face a higher risk of having their lenses shatter, and children's frames require specific designs. "Any child who is having developmental signs of decreased vision should see a pediatrician and perhaps have an eye exam to see if an ocular problem is the issue," Granet says.