How to Tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

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Does my child need glasses? Have you asked that question to your child’s pediatrician yet? How do you know if your baby needs glasses? Or what normal vision is for a 5 year old.  These are questions to bring up with your child’s doctor as early as 6 months old! If child eyesight deterioration is a concern for you, know the symptoms you should be looking for. Keep reading to learn how to tell if your child needs glasses as well as a few children’s eye exam tips.

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one child reading and another getting glasses with text 'how to spot vision problems in kids'

Make Eye Exams a Back To School Habit

When my kids started back to school every year, we had a lot of things to get done. There were clothes to buy, pencils to sharpen and summer reading to finish. There were also doctor and dentist appointments to make to ensure that we had all of the information we needed to complete their registration paperwork.

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School books, supplies and eye glasses with text "Does Your Child Need Glasses?"

Schools want to ensure that our kids have had all of the proper vaccinations and dental exams before starting school. Vision exams were not mandatory at our school for admittance. I was really surprised by this since being able to see properly is really vital to success at school!  

If you aren’t sure how to tell if your child needs glasses, talk to your child’s doctor. While most pediatricians will do a general eye screening as part of their exam, going to an actual vision care expert gives a much more accurate look at your child’s eye health. Both of my kids have been to the eye doctor, although I admit we certainly don’t do it every year like we probably should. If you suspect that your child may have vision problems and you need to figure out if your child needs glasses as early as possible. 

how to tell if your child needs glasses image

When to have your child’s eyes examined

At what age do you start to have your child’s eyes examined?  Do you need to take them to a special pediatric ophthalmologist?  Or are childhood eye exams at their pediatrician’s office good enough?

According to All About Vision, children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at about 6 months of age. Then, they should have their eyes examined at age 3 and just before they enter the first grade — at about age 5 or 6. These eye tests should be done regardless of whether or not your child is showing signs of eye problems.

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How to Tell if Your Child Needs Glasses

Don’t wait for a note from your child’s teacher to get their eyes examine.  What are the symptoms of kids needing glasses? Here are a few things to look out for when it comes to childhood eye problems:

  1. Do your kids sit too close to the television?
  2. Have you noticed them squinting, whether they are doing it while reading or looking at things farther away?
  3. Do you notice an excessive amount of tearing from your children’s eyes?
  4. Are they rubbing their eyes frequently, even if they are not tired?
  5. Do they complain of frequent headaches?
  6. Is your child particularly clumsy? While this could just be a coincidence, clumsiness can sometimes be an indicator of vision problems.
  7. Do they cover one eye or tilt their head a certain way to see things better?
  8. Have their grades at school suddenly dropped?
  9. Do they have trouble concentrating on tasks like reading or homework?
  10. Do they suddenly avoid favorite activities like reading or playing ball with friends?

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How much does a child’s eye exam cost?

As much as I’d like to have unlimited amounts of money, healthcare isn’t cheap and I am not rich.  If you want to get your child’s eyes examined, make it part of their normal yearly checkup if you can.  If the pediatrician isn’t concerned and they don’t show signs of childhood vision problems, you probably don’t need to invest in pricey eye exams for kids. 

Ask your school nurse if they offer eye exams at the school, look for coupons for free eye exams, and talk to friends. Generally, full kids eye exams can cost from $100 to $200. Routine vision screening is less expensive. Children without actual vision problems do not need  detailed annual eye exams. Ask your pediatrician how to tell if your child needs glasses FIRST.  The, look into more detailed pediatric vision screenings only if you suspect a problem. 

health care, people, eyesight and vision concept - close up of optician giving glasses to little girl at optics store

Children’s Eye Exam Tips

Children’s eye exams don’t HURT, but have you heard the way some of them scream like they are being tortured?  Eye exams for kids can be scary if they aren’t prepared for them.  Make sure you talk to them beforehand about what the doctor will be doing.  Before you attempt kids eye exams, here are a few things you can talk to them about to get them ready:

  • Read them stories where the characters go to the eye doctor. Check out Douglas, You Need Glasses! or Glamorous Glasses.
  • Describe possible tasks that the doctor may perform, such as looking at pictures or eye exam charts.
  • Prepare them for the possibility of eye drops.  Assure them that there are no needles involved in eye exams!
  • Explain that there are no wrong answers to the optometrist’s questions. Those eye charts can be intimidating!

It’s important for your child to have regular eye exams. With new eye exam procedures, a child does not even have to know the alphabet or how to read to have his or her eyes examined. A toddler vision test will look different than the eye exam adults take! Making children comfortable during an eye exam isn’t TOO hard and can save you both a lot of hassle down the road!

Comments

  1. Great tips! We just learned my daughter will need to have glasses.
  2. great tips! i have to wear glasses but hopefully my daughter wont need to
  3. Thanks for the tips! It has never occurred to me check for signs that my kid might already need glasses.
  4. Great great tips! And right now is the perfect time to get those eye exams in for school. I just did all of my kids and was kinda shocked to see in a year their vision has changed enough to need a new prescription.
  5. Myrah - Coupon Mamacita says
    I wish I knew about these tips before when I was going crazy trying to figure out why my daughter was getting bad grades....she needed glasses....duh!
  6. The best advice I've gotten so far is to start with a cheap but comfortable pair of frames. Kids outgrow them so fast and lose or break them before you know it.
    • yeah, kids are really hard on glasses. Definitely watch the pennies until they get old enough to really take care of them.
  7. Thank you so much for writing about this - just found out that my 2 year old needs glasses.

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