Seeing If Your Child Has Sight Trouble

Seeing If Your Child Has Sight Trouble

Learn telltale signs of vision problems so it doesn’t go untreated in your family.


By: Alyssa Chirco

Since vision standards across Canada aren’t wholly regulated, it’s tough to determine how many of the country’s youth suffer from vision problems. One estimate has the number as high as 5 to 10 per cent.

“A child may not tell you that he or she has a vision problem because they may think the way they see is the way everyone sees,” says Dr. Andrea Thau, spokesperson for the American Optometric Association and Associate Clinical Professor at SUNY Optometry. “That’s why a comprehensive eye examination is so important for children. Early detection and treatment provide the very best opportunity to correct vision problems, so your child can learn to see clearly.”

Wondering if your child is experiencing sight trouble? If you know what signs you should be looking for, you’ll be better able to detect out for potential problems.

A Healthy Start for Infants
Although most babies begin life with healthy eyes, there are several signs that can indicate potential eye disease or vision problems in the early years. These include:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Red or encrusted eye lids
  • Constant eye turning
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Appearance of a white pupil

Symptoms such as these can result from blocked tear ducts or infection, or they may indicate the presence of a more serious, underlying condition such as strabismus (the misalignment of the eyes) or amblyopia (poor vision in an eye that appears normal).

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Potential Problems for Pre-schoolers
Does your pre-schooler avoid colouring books, puzzles or other detailed activities? Or exhibit poor hand-eye coordination when riding a bike or playing ball? Both can be signs of potential eye or vision problems. Other signs to watch for in this age group include:

  • Squinting
  • Sitting too close to the TV
  • Short attention span for the child’s age
  • An eye that turns in or out
  • Tilting of the head
  • Frequent rubbing of the eyes

Signs of Sight Trouble in School-Aged Children
Poor vision can cause difficulty in the classroom, so school-aged children may exhibit symptoms that their younger counterparts will not. Frequent headaches — often caused by straining to see the front of the room — are a common sign of vision problems in older children. And students who appear to have learning difficulties may actually be suffering from poor sight.

“Some children with vision-related learning difficulties may exhibit specific behaviours of hyperactivity and distractibility in school,” Thau says. “Such children may be misdiagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), when an undetected vision problem is the actual cause of learning and behavioural issues.”

Signs of vision problems to look for in school-aged children include:

  • Skipping lines or losing his or her place while reading
  • Holding reading material closer to the face than normal
  • Acting irritable or struggling to complete homework
  • Seeing doubles
  • Closing or covering one eye
  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Complaints of headaches

Help Your Child See the Future
If you think your child may have vision problems, talk with his or her doctor and make an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination as soon as possible. Vision problems can negatively impact overall health and happiness, so the sooner an issue is detected and corrected, the better your child’s quality of life will be.



Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and lover of a particular frozen Mexican beverage, not necessarily in that order. She is a staff writer at Parenting Squad.

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