Is it necessary to wear spectacles?

Probably these are the most common questions and misconceptions that parents have. Let’s clear them one by one. If the child is having a significant refractive error, it is must for him to use the spectacles as soon as it is prescribed.

Duration of spectacle use in children!

Definitely full waking hours. Children have to accumulate knowledge from their surroundings apart from their books. So they need to have good vision throughout the day – which will come only with spectacles if they have refractive error. Secondly – if the refractive error is high, they will end with permanent visual impairment due to lazy eye if they don’t use spectacles.

He is so small to use spectacles. How will he?

Your doctor is trained to decide which power is significant at what age. Not all refractive errors are prescribed in infants and very small children. Only when the refractive error is high enough to carry the risk of amblyopia, it is prescribed. The doctor is aware of the difficulties parents would face in trying to make their children use spectacles. They keep this factor in mind when taking the decision. So if spectacles is prescribed for children, it has to be used always. One simple technique which can be used to improve compliance with spectacles in small children is immobilization of elbow joints when the child tries to remove the spectacles. Slowly the child will get trained with this exercise.

If he uses spectacles always then the power would go!

No, he is not using the spectacles to get rid of it in future. He is using it to have good vision with spectacles. Using spectacles has no correlation with how the power will progress or decrease in future.

Getting injured with spectacles on while playing outdoor games!

That’s another misconception. All spectacles of children have to be of plastic or polycarbonate, thus it is unbreakable. A blessing in disguise for spectacles users is that it provides an extra layer of protection over the eyes. That’s the reason why plastic protective spectacles are prescribed for one eyed patients even if they don’t have refractive error. So children should always use their plastic spectacles while playing. I had one child who always used plastic frame and lens earlier but never got injured. Once the optical people advised his mother that glass lens would have less scratches and she went for it. Within few days he got injured, the glass lens broke, pierced his eyeball and ruptured it. Luckily he did well after surgery, but many are not that lucky. So please don’t take any chances – go for plastic or polycarbonate lenses for your child even if it is a bit costly, and he has to definitely use it while playing outdoor games.

Exercises offered to get rid of spectacles!

There have been so many instances where children are being subjected to exercises for prolonged duration to get rid of spectacles. I have no objection to trying these therapies which have no proven efficacy – but the problem is that most of these therapies advise them not to use spectacles during the therapy period. In the process children lose very valuable months with subnormal vision. Its only when parents get frustrated after few months, they come to us and realize that the child was not seeing clearly all these months. PLEASE search the loads of information available on internet before subjecting your child to such experiments. Even if you have to try, please don’t discontinue the spectacles during this period.