The role of glasses – does my child need to wear them?
- Many children with cerebral visual impairment wear glasses. Glasses are prescribed for different reasons.
- Short sightedness is common in children born prematurely. Without glasses the child is in focus for near but distant objects are out of focus, hence the term short sight. For some children with reduced clarity of vision this means that the printed page can be seen better without glasses.
- However, in children with cerebral visual impairment long sightedness can cause problems which are alleviated with glasses. The focusing system may not work well so that even a very small amount of long sightedness is not corrected for. This problem can affect over half of such children in special schools, and a small correction for what would otherwise be a 'normal' amount of long sightedness can make a significant difference to the child's ability to see.
- Long sightedness can also be responsible for making the eyes squint by turning in and when glasses are worn the squint is reduced or eliminated. In children who are long sighted the spectacles magnify the eyes and ideally they need to be worn most of the time.
- All children with visual impairment benefit from 'rest breaks' from visual tasks, and this is even more important for children with CVI, who generally have to work much harder to try and process visual information, they may like to remove their glasses on occasions to relax at home or when not needed.
- Children with reduced vision due to brain damage and profound and multiple learning difficulties commonly remove their glasses even when they definitely improve vision. One possible reason is extreme visual fatigue. The clear picture requires more processing power than the blurred picture, so it is more comfortable to have a blurred picture because it is less complicated and easier to handle, therefore rest breaks from visual tasks wearing glasses may need to be factored into their day.
- When being assessed it is important that this is done using dynamic retinoscopy in order to get an accurate measurement of the person's ability to focus and the correct prescription. It is important that this is asked for as it may not be done routinely.