When Your Child Needs Glasses

I have the Little League to thank for my son's glasses. It happened on a hot summer evening last year. While playing left field for the first time under the lights, it became quickly apparent my son was having problems fielding the ball. You can imagine his frustration, not to mention the coach's well-intentioned, but pointed, feedback.

At the time, no one thought about his vision. After all, he never had any problems at third basehis usual position. Everyone just figured he was having a bad night. It wasn't until the next day that it occurred to me he might not have been able to see the ball. A trip to the optometrist confirmed he needed his vision corrected.

Now that my son has glasses, there haven't been any more close calls with baseballs, his batting average went way up, and his school grades have dramatically improved. As he said when he walked out of the doctor's office with his new glasses for the first time, "Wow! I didn't know there was writing on those signs."

The bottom line is that if anyone in your immediate family wears glasses, there's a good chance your child will, too. Be on the lookout for squinting, headaches, holding books or pictures too close, sitting too close to the TV or computer screen, and inability to read signs or distinguish the details of everyday objects at a distance. They're all tell-tale signs it's time to visit an eye doctor. 

Here’s a short article about eyes from The Boy's Body Guide to share with your son or daughter. Good luck and when on the baseball field, always have one eye out for foul balls!

Most kids don’t know they have a problem with their eyes until they have trouble reading a book or they can’t see the board in school. If things look blurry or if your eyes bother you in any way, tell your parents so they can take you to see an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist). If either of your parents needed glasses when they were young, chances are you will, too.

Lots of kids have their vision screened by a school nurse or family doctor. Screening is a great way to find out if you need a more thorough exam by an eye doctor. A complete eye exam takes about 30 minutes. During the exam, the doctor will check your eyes to find out how well you see. He’ll also check for eye diseases that cause blindness, like glaucoma.

The eye doctor will also have you read an eye chart and he’ll look inside your eye using a bright light and a high-powered lens. He may even use special drops to dilate (widen) the pupils of your eyes so he can check the health of your optic nerve. Or, he may give you what’s called the “air puff” test to measure the fluid pressure inside your eye. The important thing to remember about eye exams is that they’re easy and they don’t hurt at all.

If it turns out you need glasses, don’t sweat it. It’s a lot easier to read the board at school or hit a baseball when you can see it! Choose glasses that seem to match your personality. There are all kinds of styles—from plain to fancy. You may even have the choice to wear contact lenses. Just remember that they require special care and cleaning. Talk to your eye doctor about whether contact lenses or glasses are better for you.

Here’s one last bit of advice: protect your eyes. When you’re outside in the bright sun, wear sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection. Too much light can give you headaches, damage your eyes, and cause vision problems when you get older (like cataracts). And don’t forget to wear eye protection when playing a sport that could injure your eyes—like racquetball or paint ball.

So there you have it. Taking care of your eyes isn’t that hard, but it is important. See you around!

The Boy's Body Guide: Health and Hygiene for Young Men 8 and Up

+The Boy's Body Guide