To children, the world is still a very new place. Unless they experience outright pain, they often do not realize anything is out of the ordinary, especially when it comes to their vision. In essence, they haven’t been looking at the world long enough to know that they may be nearsighted, farsighted, or have an astigmatism that’s making it difficult for them to focus on objects for longer periods of time.

    Unfortunately, you can’t just look at your child’s eyes and tell that she has a vision impairment. However, you can observe your child’s behavior in certain environments and while performing certain tasks to determine whether or not it’s time to go see the ophthalmologist.


    If your child exhibits one or more of the following behaviors, he most likely has trouble seeing at longer distances and is probably nearsighted:

    • He avoids or gets easily bored with activities that require long-distance vision, like looking at airplanes in the sky, reading a blackboard from the back of the class, or watching birds.
    • He squints or blinks frequently when trying to focus on faraway objects.
    • He holds books and papers close to his face when reading or looking at them.
    • He tilts his head or closes one eye to focus better.

    If, on the other hand, your child exhibits any of these behaviors, she may have the opposite problem. Be on the lookout for signs of farsightedness, too:

    She avoids or gets easily bored with projects or activities that require her to focus on close objects, for example coloring, reading, doing homework, or playing board games with the family.

    • When she reads, she holds books as far away from her face as possible or squints to try to focus.
    • She seems clumsy and often trips over objects that she should have easily seen and avoided.
    • She tilts her head or closes one eye to try to focus on objects that are near but seems to have little trouble focusing on faraway objects.

    In addition to these symptoms of near- and farsightedness, be aware of some other behaviors that could indicate a vision problem, including:

    • He often rubs his eyes, even when he’s not tired.
    • She complains that her eyes are sore or tired, or she has frequent headaches with the pain centralized behind the eyes.
    • He seems sensitive to light exposure and squints or protects his eyes under seemingly normal light conditions.
    • Her eyes appear crossed, or one eye drifts inward or downward.


    Children with vision problems will also often exhibit a lot of the same signs as children diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder). Before you treat your child for an attention disorder, you should have her eyes checked out. She may just be having trouble seeing and getting distracted when she gets worn out from trying to focus for so long.

    Children should get regular eye exams every two years, but sometimes a vision impairment can manifest itself between eye exams. Don’t wait until the next regularly scheduled appointment. If you think your child has a vision problem, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

    Posted November 6, 2014 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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