A child may need glasses because of a refractive error, to help control the eye alignment, to treat a "lazy eye" (amblyopia) or for protection (if the child has good vision in only one eye).
An ophthalmologist can determine whether or not a child needs glasses by performing a complete eye exam. The pupils must be dilated to relax the child's internal focusing mechanism to allow accurate measurement of the refractive error. This allows for an accurate, objective measurement that does not require verbal responses from the child. (No need to ask "which is better, one or two".)
There are 4 basic types of refractive errors: myopia (near-sighted), hyperopia (far-sighted), astigmatism (unusual eye shape) and anisometropia (different refractive power of each eye)
This is a question commonly asked by parents of infants and toddlers. Most children will recognize that they see better with their glasses and will leave them on. Some children do not accept change easily or object to "things" on their face or head and will resist wearing the glasses. A positive attitude on the part of the parents is extremely important. Starting with a comfortable fitting by an experienced optician is very important. The glasses should fit so that the eye is in the center of the lens. The glasses should not be constantly sliding down the nose, as the child will look over the top of the lenses and defeat the purpose of the glasses. Many trips back to the opticians for adjustments may be necessary. Praising the child for keeping the glasses on, engaging in one on one activities that keep the hands busy and the mind distracted will help at the beginning. If the child is extremely strong-willed and refuses glasses despite all efforts, it is best to discuss other options with your physician. (Sometimes short term drops can be used at home to encourage the child to use the glasses.)
The only valid indications for bifocals in children are if the eyes are crossed or the child has had cataract surgery. Children's eyes can easily adapt in focusing from distance to near without the need for bifocal lenses. Bifocals may also help visually impaired children.
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