How to Recognize Vision Problems in Children

This post is by Evan Fischer.

Your child may not recognize or be able to articulate vision or eye problems if they are experiencing them, and you may not suspect that anything is wrong … at first. 

Sometimes, behavioral problems or seeming learning disabilities may stem from an undiagnosed vision problem.  Your child may need assistance with their vision. 

Vision problems in children

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The group Prevent Blindness America has studied such problems in children and determined that one in four children of school age is affected.  If you notice that your child is experiencing any of these signs, it is important that you schedule a full vision examine from an eye care professional, preferably one who specializes in pediatrics.

Trouble concentrating

If your child is having trouble seeing the board at school or reading assigned texts, it may be that they are experiencing vision difficulties and not that they have attention deficit disorder (or ADD). 

This problem can extend to your child’s homework patterns.  Are they taking longer than they once did, or are they working inordinately longer on their studies?  It may be that they are forced to reread passages because they can’t see or focus on long enough to comprehend them.  Skipping words or lines while reading points to the possibility of astigmatism.

Sitting too close to the TV

Sitting or scooting nearer and nearer to the television or squinting at it are signs that your child is having trouble seeing the screen, or that they might be nearsighted.  If they are covering up or closing one eye while watching television or performing other close activities like reading, it may be that they are experiencing double vision. 

Pay attention to the way they look at objects:  are they holding books further away?  Squinting?  Is one eye crossing?

Headaches

Children with eye strain from reading or staring at the computer screen may complain of headaches.  The child may also complain of dizziness.

Red eyes

If a child is experiencing some kind of vision problem, they are more prone to rubbing their eyes, which makes them look red and irritated.  Listen to see if your child is complaining about eyes that itch or that hurt.

Coordination

If your child seems more accident-prone than before—and this can include bumping into furniture, dropping objects, or missing the table when laying down dishes or silverware—they may have a vision problem.  This may extend to the ways that they play, including their ability to handle toys and balls.

If your child is experiencing any of these problems, you should take them to an eye care specialist or read more information at All About Vision, to determine if they need corrective glasses or contact lenses

The American Optometric Association recommends that your child have a comprehensive eye exam at six months of age, again at three, and again at five or six, even if they are displaying no outward signs of vision impairment.  After that, they should have yearly check-ups. 

Left untreated, certain eye problems can develop into serious medical issues, while in their earlier stages they may be easily and affordably curable.

Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.

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