700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

How to Tell if Your Child May Need Glasses

Jul 14, 2022
Signs your child might need glasses

Babies cannot focus well at birth. Babies learn to see and visually absorb information about the world around them over time, much like learning to walk and talk. The vision system takes a while to develop: usually seven or eight years!

Along the way, it’s important to have your child’s eyesight checked so that problems can be caught and corrected early, especially while the vision system is still developing.

How Common is it for Children to Need Glasses?

Around 3 percent of children between 2-5 years old need glasses, and that jumps up to around twenty-three percent in children between 6-11 years old. More than forty percent of 12–17-year-old children need glasses; there is definitely an increase as we grow older.

How Can You Tell if Your Child May Need Glasses?

Children often display certain “symptoms” of declining eyesight, including:

  • Squinting
  • Rubbing eyes excessively
  • Sitting too close to the television
  • Not being able to see far away things like planes, birds, animals at the zoo.
  • Frequently closing one eye
  • Crossing or drifting eyes; eyes should move together
  • Frequent head turn or tilt
  • White or asymmetric red reflex
  • Droopy eye lid(s)
  • Shaking eyes

If you see some of these signs in your child, they may need glasses. They can be screened by their pediatrician or at school. If they fail the vision screening, they should be seen by an eye care provider for a complete vision exam.

What Do Parents Need to Know About Glasses?

A glasses prescription is a measurement of the size and shape of the eye. Therefore, everyone has a glasses prescription. However, we only prescribe glasses if the prescription is outside the normal range for the child’s age or if the measurements of the left eye are different from those of the right eye.

Glasses do not change the shape of the eye; they simply allow you to see with the eyes you have. Growing can change the shape of the eye and therefore affect the glasses prescription.  Some prescriptions worsen with age, some improve with age.

A child must have their pupils dilated to correctly measure the prescription. If the eyes are not dilated, a child’s natural focusing ability may skew the measurement. A dilated eye exam can determine a child’s glasses prescription even if the child is unable to talk or participate with the exam.

Being aware of your child’s overall eye health is important for their growth and development, and optimal vision is essential to the learning process.

The Ophthalmology Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers routine primary and secondary care and clinical testing for children with visual impairment.

Featured Expert

Julie Lange, MD

Dr. Lange is part of the Ophthalmology Fellowship faculty, as well as the physician team.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.