Here is information to help parents navigate the world of glasses for young children:
• Get a vision check early. Children should be examined between the ages of 6 and 12 months, says Stacy Hill, a clinical adjunct faculty member at Pacific University College of Optometry.
“If the doctor finds no concerns at that visit, then the child should be reexamined at three years and again before entering school,” she adds. If the visit isn’t covered by insurance, the InfantSEE program provides free eye examinations to children up to 12 months old. While eye charts don’t work on babies, flashlights and small toys help the doctor see how well the eyes are working.
• Vision is about more than 20/20. “If your child is seeing well but is struggling in school or has attention/behavioral problems,” Hill says, “there is a strong chance that there is a visual skill deficit that needs to be addressed with glasses or vision therapy.”
These deficits could include focusing issues, double vision, strabismus, “lazy eye” and visual-motor problems such as clumsiness. Vision therapy is like physical therapy, using lenses, prisms, filters and other tools under the supervision of a doctor to improve visual skills.
• Think about replacement and repair. Accept the fact that your kids will lose or break their glasses, and you will need to have a plan for when that happens. Inexpensive glasses might be easier to replace, while higher-priced glasses might come with better replacement and repair policies — but not always. Check all policies to make sure you’re comfortable with them before you buy. Having a backup pair is also nice, if money allows.
• Know your frame options. When it comes to the material for the frame, “pick your poison,” says Richard Golden, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “Metal frames are more adjustable and they’re lighter. The downside is that they can bend — but they don’t break as easily. Plastic frames don’t get bent out of shape as easily, but the hinges on them are less flexible so that they can break.” For much younger kids, Golden recommends frames that are made out of a molded nylon material: “You could tie them in a pretzel, and they won’t break.”
Letting your child have a voice in the final decision may mean better care and use.
• Know when to wear them. “I think everyone assumes you need to wear them all the time, and it really just depends on the prescription,” says Megan E. Collins, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Some kids are nearsighted, and glasses are just for seeing things far away; some kinds are farsighted, and they need them just to read.”
Specific glasses for specific times also means that if your child plays a competitive sport, sports glasses, such as Rec Specs — even for prescription goggles — are a nice option.
— Lindsey M. Roberts, The Washington Post