One in five Aussie children suffer from an undetected vision problem.
Could your kid be one of them?
Often children won’t tell you if they’re having trouble seeing. And often, it’s because they just don’t know. After all, how can children know their vision is poor if how they see is normal to them?
It’s up to us parents to read between the lines and look for the signs that our kids might have eye sight problems that are affecting their daily life.
Here are 13 signs to look for that might indicate child vision problems.
Squinting is one of the most obvious signs that your child is having trouble seeing, especially distances.
2. Trouble recognising people in the distance
Again, this is another sign of short-sightedness.
3. Requesting to sit close to the television
If you notice your child always sits way too close to the TV or computer screen, it could be because they can’t see it properly otherwise.
4. Eye rubbing
Children often rub their eyes when they are tired, sick or upset. But if your child is doing this, it could also mean they are experiencing an eye problem.
5. Guided reading
When children are learning to read, they will often follow the words with a finger. But eventually kids grow out of this. If your child is reverting back to this habit it could be because they are having trouble focusing on the words, which might mean vision problems.
6. Closing one eye
Another habit to watch for? If your child is reading or watching TV and seems to keep one eye closed, it could be a refractive or binocular vision problem.
All kids get headaches once in a while. It could be because they are dehydrated, or because they took a fall on the school playground. Or, it could be because their eye muscles are straining to focus properly, causing tension and pain.
8. Poor marks in school
You can’t always blame vision problems as the reason why your child isn’t getting good marks in school. But you can sometimes. It could simply be because they can’t see the whiteboard or screens properly. Or, it could be because they’d rather be playing outside than sitting in a classroom (like my son). But, if you do notice your child’s grades slipping, rule out vision problems first.
9. Eyes that don’t line up
Many babies will have eyes that have trouble focusing together. This condition, known as strabismus, can correct itself. Or, it can develop later in childhood. If you do notice your child’s eyes don’t line up, especially when tired or looking at something closely, then it’s worth getting those eyes checked.
10. Head tilting
Another sign of strabismus is regular head titling, which can minimise double vision.
11. Sensitivity to light
Most kids don’t like sunlight directly in their eyes. But have you noticed that your child’s eyes are particularly sensitive to sunlight, indoor lighting or camera flashes? They might have a condition called photophobia.
12. Frequent blinking
This is another sign that something could be irritating your child’s eyes.
13. Disinterest in screens/reading
Many kids would rather play outside than play a computer game or read a book. Often it is simply because they are not interested in these activities. But it could be a sign that their eyes are hurting when looking at a screen or trying to read the words.
This symptom on its own is probably not a reason to see an optometrist but if you notice other signs as well, then it might be a good idea to call.
Vision changes with age which means your child’s eye sight could worsen over time. If you do notice any of these signs, then take your child to an optometrist for an eye examination – it doesn’t hurt to check!
Concerned about other aspects of your child’s health? Check out our health section for more advice.