Refractive error is curable

Don’t deprive your child of his/her right to see clearly

Did you know that uncorrected refractive error is the most common cause of visual impairment? According to WHO, around 12.8 million in the age group 5–15 years are visually impaired from uncorrected or inadequately corrected refractive errors.

Every child is born with a refractive error. These refractive errors change with age and normalize by the age of 8 years. However, this does not happen in some children and such children develop poor vision requiring spectacle correction. In most of these children these refractive errors go unnoticed as children usually don’t complain and only an ophthalmic evaluation will reveal the underlying problem. Nonetheless, some children squeeze their eyes or hold objects closer to the face or go closer to the television in order to overcome the refractive error and see clearly. Some children develop squinting of eyes, lack of interest in school, rubbing of eyes or complain of headache and eye pain.

Refractive Error

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Narayana Nethralaya offers a comprehensive pediatric ophthalmic care with the best facilities for age appropriate methods of assessing visual acuity and experienced pediatric ophthalmology team catering exclusively to children. A child’s growing eye is different from an adult’s eye in many ways, demanding special attention and care. Narayana Nethralaya is one of the preferred choices for pediatric eye evaluation.

Refractive error in children in India is a major public health problem. If a child’s refractive error is not diagnosed at the right time of visual development, the child can develop lazy eye or amblyopia which, if left untreated can lead to permanent visual impairment. Hence, an ophthalmic evaluation before one, three and five years of age is mandatory for all children.

Refractive errors are eye disorders in which the light is not properly refracted to a point focus on the retina and instead a blurred image is perceived. Refractive errors in children can be corrected by spectacles. Children with refractive errors need periodic eye evaluation as these errors tend to change frequently and have an effect on the vision and the retina.

Light rays enter the eye through the cornea where they are refracted (bent) and pass through the pupil to finally form a sharp focus or image on the innermost sensitive layer of the eye, the retina, just like in the camera. The retina then sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve and the brain perceives the final image. When the image is exactly formed on the retina and there is no power in the eyes, it is called Emmetropia.

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Types of Refractive Errors

Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Nearsightedness or myopia is a condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects are not clear. This occurs due to light rays focus in front of the retina due to either longer eye ball or increased corneal curvature of a steep cornea. Myopia occurs in different degrees from minimal to extreme. The more myopic you are the blurrier your vision is at a distance and objects will have to be closer to you so you can see them clearly.

A sign of nearsightedness is difficulty in seeing distant objects like TV screen and the child may want to watch it from very near or difficulty in seeing blackboard in the school, for which the child may want to copy from the student sitting next instead of looking at the blackboard. These children may have poor class work or class notes in spite of being regular and good at home work. A comprehensive eye examination is required in such cases to rule out nearsightedness.

It can be corrected by prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses to optically correct nearsightedness, which you may only need to wear for certain activities, like watching TV or a movie or driving a car, or they may need to be worn continuously.


Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

Farsightedness, or hyperopia is a condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones are not clear. Farsightedness occurs if your eyeball is shorter than the normal or the cornea is less curved than normal or flat, so light entering your eye is focused behind the retina. It is usually inherited. A child is usually born with hyperopia and as the eye grows it reduces.

Common signs of farsightedness include difficulty in clearly seeing near objects, headaches, eye strain, and/or fatigue after close work. Although the hyperopia is not as common as myopia the common vision screenings, often done in schools, are generally ineffective in detecting this condition. A comprehensive ophthalmological examination is required in all those with above mention complaints.

In mild cases of hyperopia, patient may not need corrective glasses, as eyes may be able to compensate by working harder. In other cases, your ophthalmologist may prescribe spectacle or contact lenses to optically correct this condition.



Astigmatism (Distorted Vision)

Astigmatism is a condition where the front surface of your eye, the cornea, is irregular in shape, it is not perfectly round but more oval, preventing the light to focus at one point on the back of your eye, the retina. As a result, the vision would be blurred at all distances. Astigmatism rarely occurs alone. It usually accompanies myopia or hyperopia.

Most of astigmatism can be corrected with properly prescribed and fitted eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.

However, higher astigmatism may be better handled by surgical means like astigmatic keratotomy or LASIK.



Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my child require glasses?

A child may need glasses for various reasons.

  • To provide good vision. For examples- in cases of refractive errors
  • To straighten the eyes when they are misaligned. For example – strabismus (squint)

For the treatment of lazy eye or amblyopia. For example – in anisometropia

Can healthy food and vitamin supplements prevent the need for glasses?

A well – balanced diet which includes plenty of green, leafy vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts are good for your child’s eye health and overall growth. However, the need to wear glasses is not related to the diet or nutritional state of your child’s body.

What will happen if my child does not wear glasses?

If your child does not wear the prescribed glasses, normal development of vision can be affected. Eyes attain maturity by the age of 6-8 years of age. Continuous blurring of vision in one or both eyes in the early developmental period prevents the normal growth of visual system leading to amblyopia or Lazy eye.

What kind of glasses does my child need?

Plastic lens and frame are standard for children. The eye wire should cover both eye completely and the rim should not come in contact with periocular skin. The nosepads should sit symmetrically over the nose and should not be too tight or loose. There should not be any pressure on the temples.

For how long are glasses required?

Glasses are an important tool for correction of refractive error and also for overall development of the child. To deprive the child of required glasses may hamper his final visual acuity (clarity) and also reduce his awareness to the surrounding and observational skills. Clarity of vision is required all the time. That is why constant wear of glasses is mandatory.

Will my child’s power increase/reduce?

With age, refractive errors keep changing in children along with their growth. This explains why children need eye check-ups at a regular interval. While myopia increases with age as part of the body’s normal developmental process, hypermetropia may decrease.

Will my child need glasses for the rest of his/ her life?

If your child has myopia or nearsightedness, then he/she will most likely need to wear glasses for life. Contact lenses or refractive (LASIK) eye surgery are other options after your child grows up.

Can wearing full correction of spectacles damage the eyes?

No, for a child with a refractive error, glasses are a must, which correct the blurry vision. However, if you do not wear a full correction the vision will continue to stay blurred, so it is imperative that full correction be worn to get a clear image.

Will wearing eyeglasses make you dependent on them?

No, glasses are a must to correct the blurred vision and to see clearly. Your child will prefer wearing the glasses in order to see well against uncorrected vision.

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