How Do I Know If My Child Has Vision Problems?

Mother and daughter with opthalmologist
We place a great deal of emphasis on children’s learning, but did you know that around 80% of what is learnt in school is taught visually? Even from the earliest age, as soon as babies open their eyes they use them to learn about and understand the world around them. Therefore, if your child has problems with their eyesight that are left undetected and untreated, it can have a serious impact on their learning and development.

Children should ideally have their first eye examination around 6 months of age. While they won’t be able to tell you if they are having problems with their sight, Dr. Kornstein should be able to detect any difficulties. Their second eye exam should take place around the age of three years, and then you should schedule regular examinations once your child starts school.

So how can you tell if your child may potentially have problems with their vision? Here are some of the signs to watch out for.

Getting too close to things they want to pay attention to

Whether it is sitting virtually on top of your television, holding a book or their tablet right up to their nose, or coloring in with their face right up against the paper, all of these habits may suggest that your child is struggling to see properly unless the object of their focus is up close.

Closing one eye when trying to focus

Optometrists use the term ‘binocular vision’ when they talk about eyes working together, but if your child regularly closes one eye when trying to focus on something such as the television or a magazine, then it could indicate that his binocular vision isn’t quite right.

Using a finger to guide them while reading

This is a sign to watch out for in older children as using a finger to guide them is common when they are learning to read. However, if your child regularly loses their place while they read, or use their fingers to keep track of where they are, then this could be a sign that they have difficulties with their vision.

Claims that looking at a digital screen is painful

Digital eye strain is something that many adults are familiar with, and one of the reasons why many employers encourage their staff to take a break from the screen every once in a while. However, it is also on the rise among children who are spending increasing amounts of time looking at phone or tablet screens. If your child claims that looking at a digital screen is painful then insisting on regular screen breaks so that they can focus on something much further away for a while could be a big help. However, if his eye pain persists then it is definitely worth making an appointment for an eye check-up.

Persistent eye rubbing

It is easy to assume that eye-rubbing is a sign of tiredness, but if your child is trying to concentrate on a task and keeps rubbing his eyes, or if he just persistently rubs them all the time, it could be an attempt to clear his vision.

Finds it difficult to differentiate between colors

If your child finds it difficult to differentiate between certain colors – for example, red and green – then he may be color-blind or other problems with his eyesight.

Sensitivity to light

If you find that your child dislikes bright sunshine, camera flashes or strong indoor lighting then he could be suffering with photophobia which is an extreme sensitivity to light and can be an indicator of a several different eye conditions.

Struggling at school

If your child is receiving lower grades than normal, or your teacher feels that they aren’t concentrating as well as usual, then it may be that he is struggling to see. Many children with vision problems fail to let their teacher know that they can’t see the board or their books properly, and as a result their grades begin to suffer.

Has recurrent headaches

If your child regularly complains of a headache, then his vision may be the cause. An eye test will help to rule out any other causes, and glasses should help to rectify the problem.

Cannot track a moving object

If you ask your child to watch an aeroplane moving through the sky and he struggles to track it, or any other moving object, then he may be experiencing problems with his vision.
If your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms, or if you have any other concerns about his vision, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment with Dr. Kornstein.