Archived Q&A and Reviews



Astigmatism - kindergartener won't wear glasses

March 2010

My kindergartner has been diagnosed with an astigmatism. She usually wears her glasses with no problem, but sometimes, when she really should be wearing them, she just refuses, saying she can see ''just fine''.

The research I have done indicates that with this condition, what she sees, without her glasses, is fuzzy even blurry.

I understand that somtimes she does not want to wear them and I do not want to be awful about it such that she never wants to wear them.......but if she is seeing the world as blurry, I guess I will have to become a nag.

If you have this condition, please share with me what it is like. If you have a child with glasses, please share your techniques for pursuading them to wear their glasses without becoming a ogre. Wants her to see clearly

The answer on the astigmatism glasses is ''it depends on the prescription.'' I'm assuming she has a pretty high level of astigmatism, or glasses would not have been prescribed at all. If that is the case, it is possible that her prescription will not develop normally unless she wears the glasses almost full time.

Having said that, here are the facts about astigmatism: Unless nearsightedness, astigmatism ''smears'' your vision. This is especially problematic when reading. An E may look more like a B or a P, for example, because the image is smeared. Makes learning to read more difficult. However, for some types of astigmatism, running and playing outside is no big deal, and a child sees more than well enough to do these tasks. So, it all depends on the Rx--ask the doc.

As for how to get them to wear the glasses, it's easier said than done, but I'd consider them like clothing. Are you allowed to go out without your clothes? No. Period. Or, you can think of them like medicine. Will her vision deteriorate without them? Quite possibly so because she is YOUNG. For an adult, not wearing glasses is no big deal because your brain is already set and won't undo its connections. For a child whose vision is still developing at age 5 or 6, it is a problem.

The trick is not to get in a power struggle over them. Glasses off? In time out until they go back on. No drama, no fuss. Just plain and simple. And, if she wants a break from them, go sit in time out for a bit. No problem. Time out, the shower, and in bed are where no-glasses is OK.

But, again, it depends on the Rx. If her Rx is very mild, then you may not have to be so strict about it, but then again, being strict for a bit can get her in a habit, and then you don't have to worry anymore. Optometrist mom who has a son with glasses

I found out I needed glasses in 1st grade. In retrospect, I needed them earlier, but didn't know. Even once I got them, it took a while to adjust, and I didn't wear them in the playground. It probably wasn't until I got contact lenses in middle school that I finally had corrected vision all the time. Anyway, it wasn't that big of a deal and I have very poor vision. If your daughters just a little fuzzy, maybe just give her time to adjust to the new accessories before tryingto make sure they are on te time. Four eyes

You say that your research into astigmatism ''indicates that with this condition, what she sees, without her glasses, is fuzzy even blurry.''

Not necessarily. Astigmatism, like myopia/shortsightedness, comes in degrees. I've lived with both for years, and I would have no qualms, for example, playing soccer without my contacts or even driving in an emergency. The sight is fuzzy and blurry, but that doesn't mean I can't see what needs to be seen.

What's not clear is what you mean by ''when she really should be wearing'' her glasses or what you're basing that opinion on. If she's in school and needs to see the blackboard, well, yes. Playing T-ball or catch, probably. Playing four-square or riding a bike, maybe not.

I don't have great ideas about getting kids to wear glasses, but I do have an idea you might consider. My daughter (age 6) was diagnosed with a different problem, which required a contact lens. We were worried, but it was surprisingly easy for us to adapt to this. Now the problem requires she wears glasses for a few months and I am finding it torture -- to keep them on, to keep them in front of her eyes, to keep them clean. Can't wait to return to contact lenses! They can work with some astigmatisms, so you might check it out. fellow sufferer

Hi, we have been in exactly same situation (astigmatism). We had success with bribing - one jelly bean every day she wore her glasses. After one month she got to go to a restaurant of her choice for dinner. Also, I usually wear contacts but started to wear my glasses almost daily. We were told that as long as she wears glasses when reading etc. it's ok to take a break once in a while when playing. anon

When I was in 1st grade, i received a pair of glasses for astigmatism. I didn't like them either. Bythe time I was nearly done with 2nd grade, it turned out I no longer needed them. Either my eyes had changed sufficiently to not require them anymore, or the extent of my astigmatism was not enough to truly warrant the use of glasses. Today at 50, I am just starting to need glasses again, but not for astigmatism. Although I have always had a little bit of astigmatism, it only show up in very detailed eye exams and it has never bothered me. I never felt that I had blurry vision.

I have heard of friends' children who, once they get glasses, never want to take them off, because they help them see so well. These kids definitely need glasses.

Perhaps you child does not want to wear them all the time (or at all?) because they don't help her much. Despite your research findings, she may not be seeing the world as blurry. It would be difficult for you to tell. When vision is not that far off normal, wearing glasses is more distracting than it is helpful. Her behavior may be telling you this. YOu could always get a 2nd opinion. If you haven't tried the US optometry clinic - the part especially for kids - you could try an appointment there. Far seeing parent

I was in a similar situation as a child and was forced to wear glasses early. It seemed that my nearsightedness and astigmatism just got worse with every pair of glasses as I got older. Today I am extremely nearsighted and have some astigmatism. After I grew up, I read multiple studies that demonstrated that glasses on young children can make their eyes get worse (especially with nearsightedness), possibly because the eyes grow and adapt to the glasses rather than adapting to the outside world. If the child's eyesight is a little blurry, it will actually get better over time.

Of course, if she needs glasses to see the blackboard or to read, she should wear them at that time. But not every waking hour! Certainly they're not necessary on the playground or when not in school.

It turns out glasses are a great revenue generator for optometrists, so studies such as the ones I mention are not well-publicized. Nevertheless, there is a lot more nearsightedness in populations where glasses in childhood are common. Please don't force your child to wear glasses. If the blurriness makes her uncomfortable, she will choose to wear them. If not, please don't risk making her eyes worse. Artificially produced myope

I had to respond to the last post that said that glasses cause nearsightedness, and has the very inflammatory and incorrect statement ''It turns out glasses are a great revenue generator for optometrists, so studies such as the ones I mention are not well-publicized.'' If these studies were based on good science, they would be well publicized, and no optometrist could prevent it. How absurd!

I'd like to see the previous poster respond to this post and cite these studies. If glasses caused myopia, how would anyone become myopic without first wearing glasses? If glasses cause the progression of myopia, then how come children who have poor access to healthcare progress in their myopia without benefit of glasses?

The notion that glasses cause myopia has been proved incorrect many times by many different studies. I would refer the reader to the Orinda study as well as BIBS study for some reading and education. Optometrist

In response to the question for studies, here's a URL that searches for studies detailing the adverse effects of eyeglasses:[Mesh] And since the original post was about astigmatism:[Mesh]+AND+%22Astigmatism%22[Mesh] There also exist studies for complementary therapies or alternative therapies. There are many reviews of the studies here: (the list includes includes 'non alternative' as well as 'alternative' therapies). alison

Hello, I want to make one final comment about astigmatism and the use of glasses. Allison provided us with some links to NEI studies regarding use of glasses. The studies don't speak to astigmatism in particular, but I did want to point out that there IS very interesting work being done right now in the field of myopia progression that her link did provide. I just wanted to point out that optometrists are leading the research in this area. One of the original posts that I responded to stated that optometrists were somehow in a huge conspiracy to make money off of people by creating nearsightedness/astigmatism by prescribing glasses. Those types of statements really irritate me because nothing could be farther from the truth. Usually, people who make these comments will quote the Bates Method (which has been discredited many times over). However, since the latest post pointed to some legitimate science, I did want to comment that there is progress being made in this area, but it is in its early stages of study.

And, my final word will be that if the original poster's child was less than 6 then glasses are imperative to insure proper visual and behavioral development. Optometrist

Our 5 1/2 yr daughter has an astigmatism

October 2003

We have just found out my 5 1/2 yr daughter has an astigmatism. Does anyone know if this means she will need to wear glasses for sure? Whta have been other people's experience with this? Thank you

Regarding your 5.5 yr old with astigmatism.. How much she needs to wear her glasses really depends on the amount of astigmatism that she has, and what her visual acuity is with and without glasses (and without squinting). If the amount of astigmatism is greater than about 1 diopter part time use is often recommended, and greater than about 2 diopters full time (or almost fulltime). Doctor's opinions may vary on this, and nobody here can be specific in our recommendations because we haven't seen your daughter as a patient! Her astigmatism is not likely to go away (in contrast, a 1 yr old child's astigmatism may go away). anon

I was diagnosed with an astigmatism and myopia (near-sightedness) at 7 1/2. My father had the same condition, and I inherited it from him. The astigmatism causes a distortion in the vision- I believe that the lens is 'warped', and as far as I know there is no treatment for it. It's different than near-sightedness or far-sightedness where the lens is either too flat or too round and the light rays fall short of or past the retina causing focus problems.

I was freaked out that I was going to have to wear glasses- I didn't like the idea of being dependent on them. But one of my clearest childhood memories is of coming out of the optician's office and being able to see again. It was winter and the tree branches were bare and I could see their crisp detail with a thin coating of ice. It was wonderful.

Wearing glasses isn't so bad, and not being able to see clearly is. Besides, they make adorable kid's glasses now as opposed to the grim things I had to wear way back then! Cece

You'll probably get more learned responses than this one, but here's my take -- as a nearsighted glasses/contacts wearer with astigmatism in both eyes but to different degrees. Nearsighted and farsightedness are general focus problems; you need a lens to make a sharp image. Astigmatism is, like, a curviness. Think fun house mirror. A distortion. Whether it needs to be corrected depends on how severe it is. Mine comes and goes. I have had times when I needed a toric (astigmatism-correcting) contact for both eyes, and times when only one needed it. Your pediatrician should be able to advise you.

Dear mom, I'm curious as to why you didn't ask your doctor this question. He/She would be the most knowledgable about your daughter's condition. Many factors are involved in order to answer your question properly.Such as family history, dioptric value of the astigmatism ,visual acuity and if there are any associated factors such as anisometropia, amblyopia or strabismus. If you are not comfortable with your doctor a second opinion is always a good idea. UC Berkeley has an excellent pediatric optometry clinic(642-2020). By the way, astigmatism isn't a disease, it's in the same category as other refractive errors such as myopia and hyperopia. Try not to worry, there's always contacts and the frames for kids are really cute now.

A pediatric optometrist and mom

I was diagnosed with astigmatism when I was 6 years old. I wore those blue pointy glasses with faux diamonds. Quite lovely but I hated them. By the time I was 8 yrs old the doc in our new town said I didn't need the glasses anymore. Now I am 42 and I am the only sib out of 5 that doesn't need glasses. I still have a slight astigmatism, but not enough to need glasses still. Soooo, you never can tell what may happen. ANd glasses aren't so bad these days. There are many more choices than there were in the early 70s! suzanne