Why Does My Child Need Glasses If They Can See Everything Far Away?

As parents, it’s natural to assume that if your child can see distant objects clearly, their eyes must be in perfect health. However, the clarity of distant vision alone doesn’t paint the complete picture of their visual well-being. Understanding the importance of pediatric eye exams goes beyond the ability to read the chalkboard in school.

The Myth of Perfect Vision

One common misconception is that having 20/20 vision means your child’s eyes are problem-free. While sharp distance vision is crucial, it doesn’t address other aspects of visual health such as eye alignment, amblyopia, or visual comfort. Pediatric eye exams are designed to detect various conditions that may not be apparent through casual observations.

Why Does My Child Need Glasses If They Can See Everything Far Away?

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Risk of Amblyopia

Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, is a condition where one eye doesn’t develop properly. There are multiple risk factors to amblyopia such as an eye turn or large differences between the eyes called amblyopia. However, two risk factors that can often go undetected are high hyperopia or high anisometropia (differences between the eyes).

High Hyperopia

High hyperopia can often go undetected because children have very strong focusing mechanisms that can compensate for most if not all of their hyperopia when looking at distance targets. However, for near activities, this means that their eye muscles have to do the heavy lifting of focusing through their hyperopia and then also focus additional typical amounts for near targets. High hyperopia is often a risk factor for bilateral amblyopia where the best corrected visual acuity in both eyes is decreased even with the best glasses. Early intervention with glasses can help alleviate the stress put on the eyes.


Anisometropia can often go undetected because children often have one eye that they use for distance and one eye that they use for near. While small differences between the eyes can be convenient and unproblematic, larger differences also cause amblyopia and also lack of depth perception. After we are born, our brain continues to develop connections with our eyes, but if the signal that is sent to the brain is blurry, the brain develops weaker connections. Glasses can help equalize the eyes and empower them to work together.

Why Does My Child Need Glasses If They Can See Everything Far Away?

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Preventing Eye Strain and Discomfort

Children are increasingly exposed to screens and digital devices, leading to a rise in eye strain. Even if your child can see distant objects, prolonged screen time without breaks can cause discomfort, strain, and even accommodative spasm. Your doctor may prescribe some glasses for near work to help alleviate and prevent these symptoms.

Comprehensive Eye Exams: More Than Just Reading Letters

Regular pediatric eye exams involve more than the standard eye chart. Optometrists use various tests to assess not only visual acuity but also eye coordination, focusing ability, and depth perception. This comprehensive approach ensures a thorough evaluation of your child’s overall visual health.

Why Does My Child Need Glasses If They Can See Everything Far Away?

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The need for glasses in children extends beyond their ability to see distant objects clearly. Regular pediatric eye exams help detect conditions like amblyopia, prevent eye strain from screen time, and address refractive errors. Prioritize your child’s visual health by scheduling routine eye exams, ensuring they have the foundation for a lifetime of clear and comfortable vision.

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Catherine Ong

Dr. Catherine Ong, OD, is an optometrist based in the Bay Area, California. She earned her doctorate from UC Berkeley, School of Optometry and currently provides primary and speciality eyecare in a private practice setting. She has a passion for patient education and enjoys reshaping technical concepts into digestable topics for all patients. When she is not seeing patients, you can find her exploring new restaurants, exercising, or trying out new recipes.