Children use their eyes to see the world and learn.
Poor vision can hamper that learning and can cause self-esteem issues. Children with impaired eyesight often end up falling behind in school or struggling in sports. It’s up to the adults in a child’s life to step in and help because kids don’t realize their vision is poor.
Here are some signs that a child may have a vision problem:
Children may squint when they are struggling to see something far away or when there is bright light. Squinting helps vision for a short time by decreasing the amount of light the eye receives, which helps with increased depth of focus. But the results are only temporary.
All of that squinting and straining to see causes headaches in the front part of the head and in the brow arches.
You may see children rubbing their eyes during or after reading, even when it’s not near bedtime. This could be because of eye strain caused by a vision problem.
Your child is continually bumping into things or tripping, but it may not be because they are awkward or clumsy. It could be because they can’t see where they are going because of poor eyesight.
Losing Place, Finger-Pointing While Reading
Ask your child to read out loud to you. An eye muscle problem or an astigmatism can cause your child to skip lines when reading or can cause words to be crowded together. Using a finger as a pointer when learning to read is normal, but if they are still doing it later on, it could be an eye issue.
Fatigue After Reading
Tired, burning or itching eyes after hitting the books indicate the need for a visit to an optometrist.
Poor Reading Skills
It is difficult to be a good reader when your eyes won’t cooperate. Re-reading the same sentence, being uninterested in reading and getting easily distracted while reading could be signs of vision challenges.
Covering One Eye
If it’s not “act like a pirate day,” that one-eyed looking your child is doing could be a sign of an astigmatism. Closing the affected eye temporarily clears the vision problem, but can put a strain on the good eye.
Do you notice your child sitting too close to the television when watching TV, or holding electronic devices or books too close to their eyes? They could have a refractive disorder which is correctable with contacts or glasses.
Eye issues can cause children to tilt their heads in an attempt to see better. These issues include double vision, lazy eye, or a drooping eyelid. It’s important to get this checked out.
Frequent Dry-Eye or Excessive Tearing
Sometimes kids’ eyes don’t close completely at night, which causes them to dry out at night and tear up during the day. It is a real condition that can be treated.
Poor School Performance
Children don’t understand that it may be poor vision which is causing poor school performance. They may not be able to see the blackboard or read the teachers notes.
Poor Sports Performance
Good hand-eye coordination is required for success in sports as is good depth perception and the ability to focus your eyes. Don’t let vision problems keep your child from enjoying sports.
Most schools conduct student vision screening, which can catch some problems, but not all. If you suspect a vision issue with your child, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a licensed optometrist. Glasses or contact lenses may be the solution. To verify an optometrist’s license, visit the Board of Optometry’s website here.