How to Spot Vision Problems in Kids

August 2023

Roughly one out of four school-aged kids has an undiagnosed vision problem. Diagnosing and treating vision problems can lead to improvements in learning, grades, test scores, behavior, and confidence.

That’s why parents need to know the red flags for vision problems in kids.

Blurry vision. If your child complains that things are blurry — or you notice they’re struggling to see (squinting, eye-rubbing, and misreading things), there may be problems with how the eye focuses light. Your child may be farsighted (trouble reading close up, such as with a book or computer) or nearsighted (trouble seeing things at a distance, such as bulletin boards or a movie screen), or they may have astigmatism (problem with the shape of the eye).

Double vision close up. With a problem called convergence insufficiency, the eyes can’t focus together when looking at things at close range such as digital devices, books, and computers. This can cause double vision — as well as blurry vision — up close.

A lazy eye. This happens when one eye is stronger than the other. Eventually, the weaker eye gets worse and fails to track the dominant eye. You may notice that one eye seems to “wander.”

Crossed eyes. This happens when the eyes don’t focus on the same thing at the same time. The eyes may look crossed as a result.

Headaches. If your child routinely complains of headaches, they may have an eye problem.

Your child’s pediatrician will likely screen your child for vision problems at their annual exam. If they detect any problems, they’ll refer your child to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam.

If you notice any signs of vision problems with your child, promptly contact your child’s doctor for a screening. The sooner a problem is caught, the sooner it can be corrected.

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