6 Signs That Show Your Child May Have an Eye or Vision Problem

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The fall season is a busy time of year, especially for families who have children beginning or returning to school. There’s a lot to think about with new teachers, school lunches, and back-to-school shopping, but you shouldn’t leave your children’s eye health off that list. Kids who are having trouble seeing sometimes exhibit observable symptoms and behaviors that indicate vision problems. It is important to keep track of these behaviors, especially since some children may not have the ability to explain what they are experiencing. However, even if kids don’t exhibit symptoms, some serious eye conditions like amblyopia may be asymptomatic at first, making regular eye exams a must for all children. Here are six ways to tell if your child may be struggling with vision problems: 

1. Squinting

If your child is squinting, they might be trying to self-correct a refractive issue, which affects how well the eyes focus on an image. Squinting can temporarily help improve the clarity and sharpness of an image. Depending on the situation, this could have to do with nearsightedness or farsightedness, which can be helped by corrective lenses or contact lenses. Squinting may also be a sign of light sensitivity, another sign of possible vision issues.  

2. Covering one eye

Covering one eye or tilting your head may be an attempt to use angling to increase clarity but could also be a sign of eye misalignment, which is called strabismus, or amblyopia, which is commonly known as lazy eye. Amblyopia is one of the most common childhood eye disorders and is the most common cause of childhood vision loss. The condition affects one to four percent of children and should be addressed as early as possible, ideally before age 8, to avoid permanent vision loss in the affected eye.      

3. Sitting too close

If your child regularly sits too close to devices such as laptops, e-readers, or the television, or holds a book very close to their eyes while reading, it is likely a sign of poor vision. This is most likely a sign of nearsightedness, which is the most common vision problem associated with refractive error in school-age children.    

4. Excessive eye-rubbing

While rubbing one’s eyes can indicate fatigue, which is perfectly normal, an excess of this behavior can indicate a multitude of eye problems, including allergic conjunctivitis, which is inflammation of the eye caused by an allergic reaction to seasonal or environmental elements. Though this is a chronic condition, symptoms can be alleviated using avoidance, antihistamine drops, or oral medication. 

5. Headaches

If your child complains of headaches or eye pain, this may be due to eye strain and fatigue. Eye strain is caused by an overuse of the muscles associated with vision focus and is commonly associated with headaches. If the headaches are more intense or have associated symptoms such as blind spots, flashes of light, or temporary vision loss that do not go away after 30 minutes, these may be signs of a more serious problem, and should be immediately addressed by your ophthalmologist.

6. Unable to see what you see

Assuming you, the parent, have normal vision (when was your last eye exam?), if you are with your child and you mention something you can see in the distance, your child should also be able to see it. Not seeing details which you can easily see is a strong indication that your child could have vision difficulties that need diagnosis and treatment.   

If your child is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to address them before school begins so they can focus on learning and you can have peace of mind. Even without symptoms, children should always have regular eye exams, as some vision problems are asymptomatic. Call us at our offices in Cranford (908-276-3030) or Westfield (908-232-3435) to schedule an appointment today.  

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