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A Parent’s Guide to Various Refractive Errors in Children

refractive blogChildren's well-being is always a top priority, and ensuring optimal vision is crucial to their overall health. Understanding refractive errors and common vision issues that affect clarity is essential for proactive eye care.

In this blog post, we'll explore the various types of refractive errors to empower parents with the knowledge needed to navigate their children's visual health journey.

Types of Refractive Errors

1. Myopia (Nearsightedness)

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common refractive error where distant objects appear blurry while close-up vision remains clear. This occurs when the eyeball is too long, or the cornea has excessive curvature (too much power), causing light to focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. Myopia often emerges during childhood and may progress over time, requiring regular eyeglasses or contact lens prescription updates. If parents are nearsighted, children have a higher chance of becoming nearsighted as well. 

Learn more about myopia control in our blog. 

2. Hyperopia (Farsightedness)

On the flip side, hyperopia, or farsightedness, results in clear vision of distant objects but difficulty or reduced focusing stamina on close-up tasks. This condition is typically caused by an eyeball that is too short or a cornea with insufficient curvature (not enough power), causing light to focus behind the retina. Like myopia, hyperopia may become apparent in childhood, and eyeglasses or contact lenses are commonly prescribed to correct the refractive error.

Hyperopia in children may go unnoticed, as their eyes can often compensate for the condition. However, uncorrected hyperopia can lead to various issues, including eye strain, headaches, and difficulties in tasks requiring close-up vision, such as reading or writing. Addressing hyperopia early with the correct prescription helps ensure optimal visual comfort and development.

Children must have a cycloplegic refraction exam to determine the refractive error properly. See why here. 

3. Astigmatism

Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens shape is irregular, leading to distorted or blurred vision at any distance. Unlike myopia or hyperopia, astigmatism is characterized by uneven bending of light, causing images to be focused on multiple points rather than a single point on the retina. Corrective lenses, such as glasses or toric contact lenses, are often prescribed to address astigmatism and provide clearer vision.

4. Presbyopia

While not related to children, presbyopia is worth mentioning as it often affects parents as they age. This condition occurs when the eye's natural lens loses flexibility, making it challenging to focus on close-up objects. Presbyopia typically becomes noticeable around age 40 and is addressed with reading glasses, multifocal glasses, or progressive lenses.

Parents' Role in Managing Childhood Refractive Errors

1. Regular Eye Examinations

Scheduling regular eye exams for your children is crucial in detecting refractive errors early. Comprehensive eye exams Dr. Capo conducts will identify vision issues and provide accurate corrective lens prescriptions.

2. Understanding Visual Symptoms

Being attentive to visual symptoms is key. If your child frequently squints, complains of headaches or is reluctant to engage in close-up activities, it may indicate a refractive error. Prompt attention to these signs can ensure timely intervention and treatment.

3. Communicating with Your Pediatric Optometrist

Establishing open communication with Dr. Capo is vital. Discuss any concerns or observations you may have about your child's vision during check-ups, and don't hesitate to seek guidance on potential interventions or lifestyle adjustments. She is always happy to discuss your child’s vision.

Pediatric Eye Exams at A B See Optometry and Vision Therapy

Understanding the different types of refractive errors equips parents with the knowledge to advocate for their children's visual health. Parents play a pivotal role in ensuring children enjoy clear, comfortable vision as they navigate the world around them. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Capo at A B See Optometry and Vision Therapy to take a proactive step toward your child’s visual well-being. Book An Exam