Myopia or nearsightedness, is exactly what it sounds like. It is an eye that is sighted at near, but can not see well far away. If your child has recently been prescribed glasses for myopia, then he or she may be having some difficulties appreciating this new vision. My goal is to help you first of all understand what your child is experiencing and secondly to give you tips on making the experience more positive.
When a young child is nearsighted, they create this whole world centered around where they can see. They enjoy focusing on near object, they look at and really concentrate on the smallest of things for hours. So the life of the myopic child is quite pleasant and they are often very content. A two year old, rarely has the need to read in the distance or even identify something from the distance, so they really don't feel like they are missing out on anything. Because of this, we can give them new glasses and they will not think twice about this great new vision that they now have, this vision beyond the reach of their arms.
When we first put the glasses on your child, they will likely continue doing what they normally do. They will begin to play and focus on the things that are close to them. Unfortunately, from the child's perspective, there is no increased visual benefit in the world that they have created. In fact, we may have made things a little bit uneasy because a lens that corrects for nearsightedness has a minification effect. This will make everything they have enjoyed looking at appear smaller. Sounds frustrating doesn't it? This is why correcting for myopia in a small one can take some convincing.
You might be wondering, why do we need to correct for nearsightedness if my child doesn't need to read signs in the distance? Let me put your mind at ease. Correction for myopia is necessary in a young child. It is essential if your child is ever going to look beyond his or her arms and truly enjoy this world around them. It's not just necessary for vision development but over all development as well. I know you will love watching your child's world expand...it is always so fun to see my little nearsighted patients see things for the first time.
Here are a few suggestions:
- When your child first puts his or her glasses on whether it is for the first time ever or the first time that day, don't put them on while they are playing! Put them on your child while he is walking around. Put them on him when he is watching television. When I put glasses on a myopic child for the first time, I always step away and call out their name. I grab their hand and start walking around. I'll even take them to a window and point to the cars or the flowers outside. I want to show them what they have been missing!
- For the first week, go for a walk everyday when you put the glasses on your child. Point out the trees and the birds. Really show off this new world!
- Cut out little pictures from magazines or print them out of your computer and tape them up high on the walls of your house. Now take your child on a hunt and point to all the surprise pictures! As your child gets older, put a new picture on the wall across from their bed every night while they are sleeping. This will encourage her to put her glasses on first thing in the morning, just to see the surprise!
- Work on gross motor skills. Instead of doing a puzzle, encourage your child to throw a ball at a target in the distance.
- When your child is back home in his or her "comfortable world," you may find that he will want to take them off. Remember, things aren't any clearer up close when he has his glasses on. To help remedy this issue, don't let him get a bunch of toys out and play with them. Just let him play with one at a time away from the other toys. This way he will need to look up and even go over to the other toys. This is a great way to help your child understand the need to see things at a distance even while playing with things that are close.
Hopefully, you can understand now why it can be a bit of a challenge getting your little myope to enjoy his or her new vision. Try using some of these suggestions. With a little time and pateience, your nearsighted kiddo with begin to enjoy this whole big world around them!