Upon being told that your child needs glasses to see clearly, you may be wondering what the future holds. Will this be a lifelong situation? What’s causing your child’s eyes to be “imperfect”?
Refractive vision issues are very common in children. In fact, an estimated 1 in 4 children wear some sort of vision correction to see clearly.
Generally, most children do outgrow the need for glasses. Most early vision conditions are caused by changes in the shape of the eye during development, and as children grow, the shape of their eye can stabilize. The time it takes to outgrow the need for glasses can vary based on the individual’s development and severity of the condition.
Here are some common conditions that your child may be diagnosed with, early signs of these conditions, and how they can be treated or prevented.
Signs and Symptoms of Esotropia
Esotropia is a common condition in which one or both eyes are turned inward, often giving the appearance of being cross-eyed. This condition can begin to show in children at the age of two years old and up.
In different cases, either eye could be turning in at a time. In some children, it is just one eye that turns inward. This turning of the eyes can happen often or occur infrequently throughout the day. However, the inward turning can become more obvious when your child is looking at something up close.
Esotropia can be caused by the child attempting to focus his or her eyes. This effort made in order to see properly causes their eyes to cross. The amount of inward turns the eyes make are directly related to the amount of effort the child is making to focus on something.
Esotropia is a serious condition that if left untreated, can lead to your child eventually losing the ability to use their eyes together. Once that connection between the eyes is broken, surgery will become the only corrective option.
- Glasses Glasses will provide corrective relief to your child by reducing the effort needed to focus their eyes. Simply put, your child will be able to see clearly and avoid crossing his or her eyes while wearing glasses. It is incredibly important that these glasses are worn consistently throughout the day. If your child does not regularly wear the glasses, they will continue to cross their eyes, and the esotropia will be harder to correct. In that case, more serious solutions may be considered.
- Bifocals If your child still has a significant amount of inward turning while being up close to objects with regular glasses, bifocals may be prescribed.
- Surgery In some cases, glasses do not fully correct the inward turning of the eyes. If the child’s eyes are still not completely straight while wearing the correctly prescribed glasses, surgery may be considered.
Can Esotropia be Outgrown?
Some children can outgrow their esotropia, however it is a gradual process that can take up to several years. Children who do outgrow their esotropia will do so around 9-12 years of age or older. Unfortunately, not all children outgrow their esotropia, and it is difficult to determine which children will outgrow their need for glasses.
As your child grows older, contact lenses can become a substitute for glasses.
If your child needs bifocals for their esotropia, it is also possible for them to outgrow the need. Around half of the esotropia cases with bifocals are outgrown.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperopia
Hyperopia is a common condition that makes seeing nearby objects difficult. In extreme cases, objects that are farther in distance may also be blurry.
During a child’s physical development, the eyes can be temporarily misshapen. In farsightedness, the eyeball is actually shorter than normal. This causes the light going into your eye to be focused behind the retina, rather than directly on it. In other cases, the eyeball is of normal length, but the cornea is flatter than normal.
Most children can compensate for their farsightedness, and often pass brief vision screenings by pediatricians or at their schools. Therefore, it is important to have your child get a complete eye exam before they enter preschool, ensuring that any impairments can be diagnosed and corrected as soon as possible.
Farsightedness is most commonly treated with prescription glasses and contact lenses. If children with hyperopia are left untreated, they may develop other further issues like crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia). Prescribing glasses at an early age can prevent these conditions.
Can Hyperopia be Outgrown?
In many cases, children born with hyperopia outgrow the condition as their eyes grow longer. However, there are some cases in which children do not outgrow hyperopia. These children will be easily treated with prescription glasses or contacts.
Signs and Symptoms of Myopia
Like farsightedness, myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common condition that occurs due to abnormal eye shape. Unlike in cases of hyperopia, rather than the eyeball being too short, myopia occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than normal. This causes the light going into your eye to be focused in front of the retina, rather than directly on it. Due to this, objects that are further in distance appear blurry and out of focus.
Myopia is mostly genetic, often passed down through the family. This condition can worsen if your child uses their eyes for constant up-close work. Activities like reading, playing games on a phone, and staring at a tablet are all common aggravators.
Most children can compensate for their nearsightedness by squinting or moving closer to view things. Therefore, it is important to have your child get a complete eye exam well before they enter preschool. It is especially important to get checked if nearsightedness runs in the family. This will ensure that any impairments will be diagnosed and corrected as soon as possible.
Nearsightedness is most commonly treated with prescription glasses and contact lenses. If children with myopia are left untreated, their condition may progressively worsen at a fast pace.
Can Myopia be Outgrown?
Unfortunately, since myopia is inherited, prevention of this condition is unlikely and your child will not outgrow the need for glasses or contacts. However, there are treatments being tested to slow the progression of the condition down, with a combination of bifocals and eye drops containing atropine. These treatments are showing some success.
The most important step you can take to minimize your child’s nearsightedness is to make sure they get an eye exam early on in life and continue to use their prescribed glasses or contacts daily.
Signs and Symptoms of Astigmatism
An astigmatism is a defect in the cornea or lens of the eye, that interferes with the incoming light. It can be an additional refractive error, meaning that it tends to occur and complicate cases of nearsightedness or farsightedness.
The most difficult part of an astigmatism is defining what form it will take, since there are many different kinds. The two main categories of the disorder are irregularly-shaped corneas, and irregularly-shaped lenses.
Depending on the case, the irregularities themselves can be very apparent, or very subtle.
Once the astigmatism has been properly diagnosed, your child will be provided with a prescription. Depending on your child’s age and preference, glasses or contacts can be successfully used to treat astigmatism.
Can an Astigmatism be Outgrown?
In some cases, children can outgrow the need for glasses over time. Children who only have a slight astigmatism, and no farsightedness or nearsightedness often outgrow this condition, and may not need corrective lenses at all.
General Rules & Tips
Even if some of these conditions can be outgrown, it is vital to get your children professional care and regular corrective treatment.
If your child hasn’t gotten a complete eye exam recently, you should schedule one immediately, especially if you notice one of the following behaviors:
- Avoids reading
- Has poor handwriting
- Squints frequently
- Has headaches often
- Constantly losing their place while reading
- Has twitching of the eyelid
- Has a short attention span
Find a pediatric eye doctor near you with experience assessing and diagnosing the vision needs of children. They will be able to properly diagnose any issues and provide a treatment solution for your child which will increase their quality of life and preventing future issues.
The Eye Doctors are known for high-quality pediatric eye care. Click here to learn more about pediatric eye exams or speak with one of our eye care professionals in New Tampa at 813-607-2313 or in Trinity at 727-308-6764.