by Aarti Kapur Singh
Up to 25% of school-age kids have vision problems and may need glasses! If your child shows these signs take him or her to an eye doctor
Good vision and eye health are key to your child’s learning and development. A recent research found that most parents actually prioritize replaceable baby teeth before irreplaceable vision. And according to the same study, 84% of parents wait on their children to tell them it’s time to go to the eye doctor. As vision continues to develop up until the age of 8 or 9 years old, it’s important to have your child’s eyes checked so that any issues can be caught early enough to treat. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child’s eyes be screened by their pediatrician for problems at birth, by 6 months of age, at 3-4 years of age, at 5 years of age, and each subsequent year at their well-check visit. It is important for parents to keep an eye out for warning signs of vision problems – including the ones that could be results of eye problems.
When your children are small, they aren’t able to tell you there is a problem. And really, it’s always been there, they probably think it’s normal anyway. Up to 25% of school-age kids have vision problems and may need glasses, so it’s important to have their eyes checked regularly.
If children can’t see well, it stands to reason they don’t want to do detailed activities. Not because they don’t have the required motor skills (although they may lack these too as a result), but because they just can’t see it. Not wanting to color, do puzzles, or do detailed crafts can be a sign of poor eyesight. Alone it may only signal a child who isn’t interested in sitting still for long, but coupled with other symptoms may be a sign to make an appointment. If your child is doing something different than he used to do, it could be a sign that he is experiencing a vision problem. For instance, he used to sit far away from the TV and is now sitting close. He used to be able to consistently catch a ball and now he can’t. Or, she is having difficulty copying from the blackboard to her notebook, when she was able to do it before. Depending upon your child’s age, he may be able to tell you if he’s having a difficult time seeing something. All of these signs can be red flags that your child might need glasses.
Straining to see day in and day out will inevitably cause headaches. Headaches cause crankiness, difficulty in focusing, and trouble sleeping. It’s a bad cycle that can often go uninterrupted because the child doesn’t know the root of the headaches, nor does the parent.
Is your toddler or preschooler clumsy? Blurred vision or inability to see details well can obviously result in some trips, scrapes, and accidents. Are they bumping into corners and walls or stepping in things on accident?
4. Difficulty being outside or in bright rooms:
There are obviously some sensory issues attached to difficulty handling a lot of light. That’s a separate issue altogether, but if your child squints all the time and is unable to open their eyes or focus well in bright rooms or on sunny days, it could be a sign they need their eyes checked.
5. Lack of coordination:
If your child seems fairly coordinated but is unable to aim, hit baseballs, or throw to a target it could be a clue to look closer. Of course, little ones won’t be all-stars since they haven’t had the time to develop those skills, but if they seem unable to do things that require hand-eye and hand-foot coordination then that, coupled with the other symptoms, might be a clue to look further.
6. Eye trauma:
If your child suffers a traumatic injury involving the eye, you might want to go directly to the emergency room or an urgent care setting depending on the severity.
Even if your child is not displaying signs of vision problems, it’s a good idea to take them to the doctor just to be sure all is well and to practice prevention and early intervention. However, if your toddler or preschooler exhibits many of these symptoms you most definitely need to get it checked out.
- Holds books very close to head
- Squints and blinks often
- Covers or closes one eye to focus
- Difficulty visually tracking
- Eyes see to flutter and blink more than normal
- Eyes look cloudy
- Bulging eyes
- Droopy eyelids
- Chronic tearing, redness, swelling
- Rubbing eyes frequently
- Tilts head often
- Cloudy pupil (in babies)
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