Everything You Should Know About Your Child's Vision

by Hillary Glaser,

Parenting is hard work – we all know that – but how much harder is it when your kids can’t properly communicate?! Have you ever thought to yourself “why won’t you just tell me what’s wrong?!” We do our best to give our children the tools to communicate and, sometimes, they have no problem vocalizing their wants and needs – especially when it comes to a flashy new toy! Yet, other times, the words just don’t come out. There is very little parents can do to help alleviate the frustration that stems from the inability to communicate. In fact, many adults struggle to communicate properly. But there’s one area where parents can take control before a problem even occurs. It’s an area that affects your child’s health but is often overlooked. That area is your child’s vision.

The ability to see is such an important gift and it’s a gift that so many of us take for granted! For some people, the thought of going to the eye doctor every year is overwhelming – either due to lack of time or lack of money. For others, they are just simply in the dark about how often to go and who to go to! The problem gets even worse when children enter the equation. Most parents are completely unaware of when their children need to go for their first eye exam and subsequent follow-up exams. Add the idea of eyeglasses into it and things become more complex. With eyeglasses comes the idea of your child being bullied and made fun of for simply wearing eyeglasses. As they get older, they may be the butt of jokes because they aren’t wearing the right brand of eyeglasses. Parents can only do so much to protect their children.

First and foremost, it our jobs as parents to make sure our children see a doctor regularly, right? So, why do so many of us push off a child’s first eye exam to first grade? It’s recommended that a child’s first eye exam occur at around six months of age. If everything goes well, the next appointment should be at age three and, then again, when your child enters first grade.  After that, your child should have yearly vision care appointments. These eye appointments are vital for your child’s vision care and can often show early-warning signs for other medical issues. You may want to send your child to a pediatric ophthalmologist for their first appointments because the eye exam is more comprehensive; plus, a pediatric ophthalmologist is trained to speak “kid” and can help you distinguish what your child is trying to tell you when it comes to his or her eyes.

So, what if one of these eye exams shows that your child needs glasses? Thankfully, we live in a society where it’s unlikely that your child will be made fun of for wearing glasses. Since 64 percent of the population wears glasses, it’s no longer seen as a dorky or negative thing. Even among the eight-year-old crowd, eyeglasses are becoming a fashion statement! Yet, being told you need eyeglasses can be a shock – even for a kid! Thankfully, there are some amazing writers out there and books about characters who wear eyeglasses are in abundance. Some favorites include Princesses Wear Glasses by Kristin Ellsworth; All the Better to See You With! by Margaret Wild; and The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon. Additionally, Harry Potter helped the optical industry strike gold with his plastic round frames – which still seem to be a hit among children and teenagers, alike.

Even with the coolest gadgets, kids are known to be accident prone, so teaching your children how to care for their glasses properly is important. It will also save you a lot of money in the long run. Regardless, eyeglasses are expensive and a lot of parents want to turn to the Internet as a way to save money on eyeglasses. There are a lot of questions surrounding whether glasses bought online are the same quality as the ones purchased from your doctor’s office. Additionally, some parents question whether their child should wear glasses bought online. While some retailers see no problem in servicing the eyes of the young – others are not as eager to put their glasses on younger children. Why? It’s a communication issue – not an issue of quality. Quite a few online optical retailers understand that children are not as vocal as adults.

If a prescription is accidentally produced incorrectly, either by the doctor or the lens manufacturer, a young child may not have the ability to tell their parents that they cannot see properly. For this reason, quite a few online optical retailers, like, are drawing a line when it comes to who can wear their frames and lenses. While older kids and teens may have no problem voicing their concerns about frames and lenses, kids as old as eight may have a problem properly advising an adult that they still cannot see – even with their new glasses. It’s recommended that children ages eight and younger should still have their glasses produced and fitted by their ophthalmologist, while children ages nine and above can start wearing glasses purchased from online retailers.

If your 10 year old is suddenly in need of new glasses, the online world may be the perfect place to purchase their glasses. While it’s certainly cost effective for you, the parent, it can also be fun for your son or daughter! So many optical sites have online virtual mirrors that make choosing a frame interactive and less boring than going to the eye doctor. You can upload your child’s picture and let them pick out the frames they like the best to “try on”. It’s also a great bonding experience for you and your child since it can be done in your home when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere else.

Vision care is incredibly important for children – their eyes are the gateway to so much, including other health issues. Studies have shown that a child’s grades and attitude can improve with a simple pair of glasses – isn’t that enough of a reason to have your child’s eyes checked when necessary? With the age of the Internet, we’re no longer in the dark about when to feed our babies certain foods or when is the right time to start enriching our child’s brain with challenging pre-academic activities. Additionally, we can no longer use the excuse “I just didn’t know” when it comes to getting your child’s eyes examined. A simple eye examination can prevent and enhance so much – when are you taking your child for his or her next eye exam?