We’ve all heard the story of the child who did poorly in school until they got glasses and could see the chalkboard. In fact, it’s such a common story that most parents will tell it to their kids in the hopes that their kids will tell them if they’re having issues seeing and participating in class.

    It’s really not a bad parenting tactic, as it helps point out a problem your child may not have realized is a problem. In many cases, kids don’t have the same life experiences you have to compare when things are normal versus when there’s a problem. They might assume that things are just blurry when they’re far away and that nobody can see the board. If they’re given some perspective, they might say something.

    However, despite being familiar with this story, parents often overlook vision impairment as a factor in a number of behavioral and performance issues at school. Different vision problems manifest in different behaviors. Let’s walk through a few of the ways you can tell it’s time to take your child to the eye doctor.


    The classic story refers to a child with myopia, or nearsightedness. The child cannot focus well enough to see what’s written on the chalkboard and therefore ends up spacing out, getting distracted, and potentially causing distractions. Hyperopia, or farsightedness, can also cause problems in school performance.

    If your child can see well at longer distances but cannot focus well at short distances, they will have trouble reading and writing. This can result in headaches, frustration, and distraction. If your child’s teacher observes that your child does well in group activities or answering questions written on the board, your child may be hyperopic.


    If your child is having trouble maintaining clarity of vision while shifting focus from near to far or far to near, they may complain of dizziness, nausea, or headaches. You may also notice that they have dry, red, itchy eyes. If your child complains of getting tired during class and feeling sick, they may not be trying to play hooky; they may be having a vision-related problem that’s causing physical symptoms.

    It’s easy to see how the literal inability to focus can be mistaken for an attention deficit problem. A lot of children are being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD when they may actually need nothing more than a trip to the eye doctor and a prescription for a pair of glasses. Remember that your child doesn’t have the experience or vocabulary to tell you exactly what’s going on. Their focus problems may stem from the inability to see clearly what’s going on in the classroom.

    If your child hasn’t had an eye exam lately, and they’re exhibiting behavioral problems or getting sick in class, it could be due to poor vision. Call and make an appointment with your child’s eye doctor today.

    Posted August 21, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
    Skip to content