As parents, it’s easy to notice when your child has outgrown their shoes or when something isn’t quite right. But the signs of vision problems aren’t always so clear. While it might not seem like something to rush out to the doctor for, your child’s vision is essential to their growth and development.
“Poor vision is a real problem that often goes unrecognized for years. It can cause delays in learning and reading, and even cause eye pain and headaches,” said Russell Horton, a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek, AZ. “Letting vision problems worsen over time also causes long-term vision problems that can be more difficult to treat.”
The sooner a vision problem is detected and treated, the more likely treatment will be successful. With input from Dr. Horton, here are a few signs that may indicate your child is experiencing vision problems.
Warning signs your child has a vision problem
- Complaining of pain or irritation. If your child complains of eye pain or headaches, they could be overexerting their eyes in an effort to focus. Excessive rubbing or irritation may indicate they are experiencing eye fatigue and strain.
- Squinting. Your child may be compensating for nearsightedness by squinting their eyes to make their vision a little clearer.
- Tilting their head. This may signal that vision may be better in one eye than the other.
- Sitting too close to the TV or holding things close to their face. Sitting too close to the TV or holding objects too close to the eyes are all possible signs of poor vision.
- Falling behind in school. Poor vision can directly impact a child’s ability to learn and could affect reading, penmanship and concentration.
While some warning signs (such as above) may be more apparent, there are some vision problems, such as lazy or wandering eyes, that may not be so easily detectable and your child may not report any problems at all. That is why it’s important to have your child’s vision checked at all well visits.
The importance of vision screenings and eye exams
“The best way to catch issues early on is through vision screenings, which are done during every child’s well visit,” Dr. Horton said. “If any abnormality is seen by the pediatrician, then evaluation with a pediatric ophthalmologist may be recommended.”
You can also choose to have eye exams performed by an optometrist if there is a local eye doctor who sees children. According to the American Optometric Association, the first eye exam should be conducted at 6 months of age, and then 3 years and 5 years old for healthy children. After age 5, routine annual eye exams should continue until puberty.
Whatever your evaluation preference, a proactive approach can help ensure your child has optimal eye health for years to come.
“Early treatment is critical because many vision problems, when caught early, can be corrected,” Dr. Horton said. “Waiting or allowing progression of eye problems for too long often leads to permanent vision problems.”
Is your child experiencing vision problems?
Schedule an appointment with your child’s health care provider or find a Banner Health pediatric specialist near you by visiting bannerhealth.com.