A few facts that I would like to discuss regarding wearing of spectacles by kids.
- First of all there is no role of diet, exercise or TV watching in a child getting spectacles or for the change in power of spectacles of the child
- The power of spectacles depends on the size of eyeball and the curvature of cornea (black round portion of eye). A change by a fraction of millimeter of eye size brings about spectacle power in any individual. So, no external factor can influence it. This is a structural variation. E.g. – If a child has to grow to a height of say, 5’10’’ (genetically determined), no diet, exercise or supplements will change that. Similarly whether a child will need spectacles, at what age and up to what power is genetically determined, without any external influence.
- The power of spectacles keeps on changing or increasing with age till adulthood i.e. 18-20 years age in girls and 20-22 years in boys roughly. Once the body growth is complete, the eye size stops changing and the power of spectacles stabilizes. That is why LASEK laser, for removing power of spectacles, in not done before adulthood.
- It is important to keep a regular 3 monthly eye check-up of children because as they grow the power of spectacles changes and we need to give corrected spectacles otherwise the child might land up with strain or vision suppression
- The chances of kids getting spectacles increase if either of parents have spectacles, but it is not absolute. Similarly, kids can get spectacles even if either parent doesn’t have a correction.
- The most important part is VISION SUPRESSION. Power of spectacles and vision both are separate entities. As I said before, the power will keep on varying as long as the child is in growth phase. Vision is what we call as 6/6 . A child should have 6/6 vision (able to read the last line in the vision chart) in each eye, with or without spectacles. This vision development is till 7-8 years of age. Once that age crosses and the vision is not corrected, the child might have permanent vision suppression i.e. will read a few lines less in the vision chart always and a few kids might land up with squint.. There is no treatment for permanent vision suppression.
- Kids need to wear the corrected spectacles always as long as they are awake. Only while sleeping and bathing they can remove them. There is no concept of them wearing spectacles only while watching TV or in school.
- It’s easy to prescribe spectacles to a 2-3 year old child and a teenager say, 14 years onwards. Kids falling in between are usually conscious of others opinion and do not understand the importance of wearing spectacles. So, whatever are the parent’s apprehensions, always encourage and compliment on their looks when giving them spectacles. A meeting with the class teacher, the first day of school also helps in decreasing the kid’s anxiety. Most importantly, parents should never discuss their apprehensions in front of the child.
- There are no scientific studies to show that carrot juice, eye exercises, other modalities like reiki etc have a role in making a child spectacle free.
- It’s a change in the kid’s life also, he/she has to wear specs in routine. To encourage them, buy nice colorful specs, throw a pizza party at home, wear zero power specs yourself so that the child does not feel out of place etc.
- Parents need to understand that without the corrected spectacles, the child’s field of vision is very restricted and he/she is having a significantly blurred vision. After wearing spectacles, they improve in their studies, sports, extracurricular activities because their vision improves.
All the above written points are what I usually counsel the parents of a child first time diagnosed with needing spectacle correction. In most cases, it is the parents who cannot accept this fact, while the child is happy – since his/her vision improves and becomes sharp. Parents need to understand that by transferring our own anxieties to the child they are creating an inferiority complex in them. A smart, intelligent and outgoing child if starts feeling that there is something wrong in them because he/she needs spectacles, then that’s one of the biggest failures of parenting.