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Vision Problems Can Manifest in Different Ways in Children

By the time a child is old enough to go to kindergarten, 1 in 4 will develop some type of visual impairment. These impairments, which can often be treated, can frustrate a child and present challenges in the classroom.

To make sure your child is getting the help they deserve, please book them for an eye exam today!

Why Is It Important to Have an Eye Exam?

Less than 15% of all preschoolers have received an eye exam from an optometrist. Eye conditions can develop asymptomatically during childhood, and affect their vision as they age. As doctors, this is particularly frustrating because a simple, 30-minute eye exam is often all it takes to detect these diseases. In many cases, early detection and treatment will help preserve your vision.

As with adults, children’s eye conditions tend to progress without an overt display of symptoms. In many cases, the child has lived with the eye condition since birth and may not know anything different. This means that they may not realize that something is wrong.

Screening at School Is Insufficient

When a child undergoes vision screening in kindergarten, and again in grade five, the testing is looking for obvious problems in the eye. They often do not detect developing conditions simply because they are not properly equipped to do so.

When to Have an Eye Exam?

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends the following eye exam schedule for kids:

  • First eye exam at 6 months of age
  • Second eye exam at 3 years old
  • Third exam at age 5 or 6 years old (just before they enter kindergarten)
  • Assuming healthy eyes, every 2 years thereafter

Has it been a while since your child’s last eye exam?

Signs Your Child May Be Struggling with Vision Impairment

In some cases, you may be able to spot signs of vision problems based on your child’s behavior. These signs include:

  • They constantly turn their head to one side.
  • They consistently turn their head when interacting with objects, such as picking things up.
  • They are startled by or unaware of your approach from one side more than the other.
  • They have difficulty noticing items of interest.
  • Their pupils do not look the same.
  • There is a family history of amblyopia (lazy eye).
  • They sit quite close to the TV; they hold phones/tablets close to their face.
  • They complain of headaches.
  • They favor one eye over the other when watching TV or reading (often presented as tilting their head to one side).
  • They find doing tasks close to them (such as putting together lego or tying their shoes) frustrating and difficult.
  • They are slower than expected in reaching visual milestones.
  • They have trouble focusing or paying attention during lessons.
  • They complain of headaches.
  • They say things look blurry (at any distance).
  • They have trouble seeing the board.
  • They have difficulty with reading comprehension.
  • After second grade, they lose their place when reading or rely on using their fingers to keep track of where they are.

The Four Main Visual Issues That Impact Kids

Some conditions that typically impact children include: myopia, strabismus, amblyopia, and other significant ocular diseases.

Amblyopia, the term used to describe a preventable reduction in visual acuity in one or both eyes, affects 2–8% of the overall population. It may be caused by strabismus, developmental ocular diseases such as cataracts, or a significant difference in the prescription between the two eyes. If left untreated, it may lead to a lifelong decrease in vision and can have both personal and professional repercussions.

If caught early, the condition may be corrected through glasses, patching, or vision therapy.

Myopia is a refractive error of the eye presented as a difficulty in seeing things at distance, and it affects approximately 15% of children.

Failure to detect and appropriately treat this condition can delay perceptual skills, encourage the development of reading disabilities, and can lead to problems with depth perception.

Myopia is easily corrected by glasses or contact lenses.

Strabismus is an inability for the eyes to maintain alignment in the same direction simultaneously. Strabismus affects about 4% of children.

When one or both eyes turn in or out (esotropia and exotropia, respectively), symptoms such as headaches and blurred vision may occur. Hypertropia, also known as vertical misalignment, is much more difficult to pick up. It often manifests as blurred vision, headaches, and changes in reading speed and comprehension.

Children will often start using their fingers or another object to help guide them (or prevent them) from losing their place as they read.

The treatment for strabismus depends on the type and severity of the condition. It may include special prismatic glasses, surgery, or vision therapy.

Childhood ocular disease can have devastating impacts. Diseases like retinopathy of prematurity, retinoblastoma (a fatal eye cancer if not detected early), and toxoplasmosis (a fungal infection transferred from the mother to fetus through the placenta) can have effects on more than vision and ocular health.

The treatments are variable depending on the condition, but early detection is the key.

Eye Exams for Your Infant Is Free at 6 Months of Age

We participate in the federally-funded program InfantSEE that provides financial coverage for your child’s first eye exam. We recommend that all infants receive an exam at six months old.

Start Your Child’s Eye Care Journey Today

Is your child due for an eye exam? Give them the help they deserve today and book their appointment!

Our Location

Visit our award-winning location today! You can find our practice right on Main Street, next to Safeway. We offer ample free parking with accessibility options for our patients.

Our Address

Suite 220, 27122 Main Street
Conifer, CO 80433


Phone: (720) 410-5325


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