There are a number of vision disorders that affect children, some of which can cause permanent damage if not treated early. It’s true that newborns can see, but their vision continues to develop for many years as they grow. A child’s vision doesn’t finish developing until the age of nine.
If you see any of these signs, it’s probably time to schedule a visit with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. It doesn’t necessarily mean the trouble is serious, but it’s certainly worth investigating further. Parents can’t expect their children to declare, “I’m having trouble seeing.” Many children have no idea they are having vision difficulties, because they’ve become accustomed to the way their eyes work. They learn to naturally make adjustments to compensate. So it’s likely you’ll have to spot the indications yourself. Although public schools offer vision screenings, some children fall through the cracks. And if your child shows signs of vision problems before beginning school, you’ll want to act quickly. The earlier a vision problem is treated, the better the prognosis for your child.
The next time your child is reading or looking at a picture book, observe him quietly. Look for the following indicators:
1. Squints or makes a funny face. Blinks rapidly.
2. Droops her shoulders to put her head closer to the book, or pulls the book close to her face, or tilts the book to favor one eye.
3. Uses his finger to keep his place.
4. Pauses to rub his eyes after short reading sessions.
5. Covers one eye with her hand, or squints one eye. One shoulder may be higher than the other as she reads.
6. Gets frustrated and loses his place while reading. Complains, “I can’t do this,” or misunderstands written directions. Gets fatigued easily.
7. Complains of headaches, nausea, or dizziness during or after reading.
In addition to the above reading behaviors, look for these additional signs:
8. Eyes appear red-rimmed, watery, or swollen. Has recurring styes, or complains her eyes “feel scratchy” or that she’s “seeing double.”
9. One eye slightly drifts or loses alignment with the other. Watch carefully because this can be hard to detect. Even if you’re “only seeing it when she’s tired or stressed,” it’s cause for concern.
10. Is struggling in school despite being a motivated learner. Has poor penmanship and poor hand-eye coordination.
Early detection is vital!
It’s common for children with special needs to have vision problems, especially children with genetic syndromes such as Down Syndrome. Make sure your child has an annual vision screening. Not only kids who are reading, but newborns and pre-school aged children should have their vision checked. Bring any concerns up with your child’s pediatrician, and get a referral.
If your son or daughter is prescribed corrective lenses or eye patches, it is tremendously important that you have him wear them regularly. Inconsistency or failure to use corrective vision measures can affect your child’s future vision for life.
To find a referral to an optometrist near you, visit the Optometrists Network Website.
Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.
Related Article: Tips for Catching Eye Problems in Toddlers