If your child is seeing well but is struggling in school or has attention/behavioural problems, there is a strong chance that there is a visual skill deficit that needs to be addressed with glasses or vision therapy

Since my son got his first pair of glasses when he was two years old, we’ve had some interesting, and at times harrowing, adventures. There were the metal frames that bent sideways, the lost acetate frames, and, oh, did you know that, if your child wrestles with his dad while wearing thick lenses that stick out of the frames a smidgen, he could slice open his eyebrow and need stitches? Yip, me neither.

My son is six years old now, and we’ve come a long way in this department. To help other parents navigate the world of glasses with young children, I spoke with several experts.

Here are their suggestions for a smoother ride:

1.  Get a vision check early

Children should be examined between the ages of six and 12 months, says Stacy Hill, a clinical adjunct faculty member at Pacific University College of Optometry.

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

“If the doctor finds no concerns at that visit, then the child should be re-examined at three years and again before entering school,” she adds. While eye charts don’t work on babies, flashlights and small toys help the doctor see how well the eyes are working.

2. Vision is more than 20/20

“If your child is seeing well but is struggling in school or has attention/behavioural 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. For an evaluation, look for a local developmental and paediatric optometrist at COVD.org. “If there isn’t a vision skill issue, the doctor may be able to help connect parents to other professionals who may be able to help,” she adds.

3. Think about replacement and repair policies

Accept the fact that your kids will lose or break their glasses, and you will need to have a plan for when that happens. Having a backup pair is also nice, if money allows.

4. Frame material options

When it comes to the material for the frame, “pick your poison”, says Richard Golden, a paediatric ophthalmologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Letting your child have a voice in the final decision will mean better care for and use of his or her glasses. “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 moulded nylon material. “They don’t have an actual hinge on them so they’re completely flexible,” he says. “You could tie them in a pretzel, and they won’t break.”

5. Know when to wear the glasses

“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 in Baltimore. “Some kids are near-sighted, and glasses are just for seeing things far away; some kinds are farsighted, and they need them just to read.” Kids with strong prescriptions may need to wear them all the time, especially if they’re helping to correct for strabismus, or eye misalignment.

Specific glasses for specific times also means that if your child plays a competitive sport, sports glasses are a nice option. For outdoor activities, transition lenses, which automatically tint to block the sun’s rays, are helpful for kids who are super sensitive to light. Otherwise, Collins says, they aren’t necessary. You can trade their regular glasses out for fun sunglasses, or use a hat to shield their eyes.

Article by Lindsey M. Roberts, first published on ‘Washington Post’.

Author: ANA Newswire