Common Childhood Vision Problems
Q: What are the most common vision problems in school-age children?
A: The most common
vision problems in school-age children are that they're having a hard time
seeing the blackboard (they're nearsighted) or they're having a hard time
reading up close (they're farsighted). In some cases children have
difficulty focusing, which we call an accommodative insufficiency.
We also see children with amblyopia, a vision development disorder caused
by one eye not being able to see as well as the other. The brain sees two
different pictures that it can't combine in a meaningful way, so it ignores
the image from the weaker eye and chooses to interpret only the image sent
by the stronger eye. The result is that the eye that isn't seeing well will
not develop properly.
If we can diagnose amblyopia early enough and
correct the eye's refractive state by prescribing a pair of glasses, we may
be able to rectify this developmental vision problem.
Q: What vision problems most affect pre-schoolers?
A: More common in preschoolers is a problem with eye muscles
that prevents proper alignment and focus. The inability to focus both eyes
in the same direction accurately, which makes the eye appear lazy, is called
strabismus. If it is not treated, strabismus can cause amblyopia.
see children with eyes turned in, eyes turned out, one eye in, one eye out,
one eye higher than the other. Any of these scenarios may inhibit
development of the visual pathway if it's not addressed and corrected at an
Q: How can parents tell if their child has a vision disorder?
A: Here are some signs that parents should look for:
- Crawling incorrectly.
- Bumping into furniture or walls.
- Losing balance when standing up from a sitting position.
objects close to their nose to see.
- Rubbing eyes a lot.
- Squinting frequently.
- Using only one eye and covering the
- Not focusing the eyes together; e.g., one eye is looking left
and the other is looking right, or one eye is looking up and the other is
These are some of the most apparent signs. They
are indicators that mommy and daddy may pick out even before the child is in
school that would dictate having a comprehensive eye exam at a very young
age. A lot of times parents will go to the pediatrician first, and the
pediatrician will recommend an eye care professional for a full
comprehensive eye exam.
Q: What can parents do to help keep their children's eyes healthy?
A: Stay informed. Listen to
the recommendations of their child's pediatrician and eye care professional as
to what their child needs. If a child needs glasses just for the blackboard,
then they should wear them only to see the blackboard, not to do homework,
play video games or work on the computer. If the doctor recommends they wear
them for sports, they should wear them only for sports. If a child should be
wearing glasses for reading up close, writing, computer use and homework,
then they shouldn't be wearing them at the movies or while wrestling with
Parents' biggest responsibility is compliance with the doctors'
recommendations for their child. The doctor may find that the child's vision is
poor and that glasses need to be worn all the time. It's the parents'
responsibility to make sure the child complies. It's not going to work if a
prescribed pair of glasses are on the desk at home—not making it to the
classroom—and the child is still squinting and getting eyestrain.
Good nutrition, lots of exercise and having a well- balanced lifestyle
certainly help children's eyes stay healthy. Achieving a balance in daily
activities can also protect children from eye strain.
Download as PDF