Vision problems in children are not uncommon. As with most medical issues, the sooner the problem is noticed and treated, the higher the chance for successful recovery or management. Even if your child’s vision is perfect, you should still be prepared to keep it that way. Protecting your child’s vision includes looking out for warning signs, understanding the eye issues common with children and implementing at-home practices for vision development and improvement.

Signs of eye problems in children

Keep an eye out for the following signs of vision problems in children. These won’t always signal a problem, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Mention any suspicious symptoms to your child’s eye doctor and they can confirm whether or not your child has any vision or eye health issues.

  • Frequent eye rubbing

Eye rubbing can be a sign of an eye infection or it could signal blurry vision. In small children who may not be able to articulate their problems, eye rubbing can be a major clue as to whether or not a child is seeing properly.

  • Trouble focusing

As children age, their ability to focus gets stronger. For babies and toddlers, some problems focusing may be normal, but once a child is older, they should have fully-formed binocular vision.

  • Sensitivity to light

Extreme sensitivity to light that does not go away should be immediately assessed by a doctor as it could signal something serious.

  • Sitting too close to the T.V.

Many parents worry that sitting close to the television may damage a child’s eyes. While this is not true, sitting too close to the T.V. can be a sign that a child has poor distance vision or difficulty focusing.

  • Declining performance in sports or academics

When children struggle to see well, it often affects their lives in noticeable ways. If a child’s grades begin to slip, they may be having trouble seeing the whiteboard at the front of the class. The same goes for children who begin to have trouble in athletics where before they were competent.

Of course, the most obvious sign of vision problems in children is what they tell adults. If a child complains of not being able to see clearly, it should be taken seriously. Don’t assume all is well. If you think your child may have an eye problem, ask them how they are seeing. Many children may be too embarrassed to bring up their vision problems, or they may not understand that anything is wrong. Do not rely on school eye exams to provide you with answers. These tests are far from comprehensive and are very easy for children to cheat on.

Common eye problems in children

Children can have any eye problem that an adult might have (even glaucoma!) but there are some conditions that are much more likely in kids.

  • Amblyopia

Also known as “lazy eye”, this problem involves one eye not functioning on par with the other. Amblyopia can usually be treated with therapy but if it is ignored, the vision in the non-dominant eye may become permanently damaged.

  • Strabismus

Children who appear permanently crossed- or wall-eyed have strabismus. This condition is also treatable but the treatments become less effective the longer you wait.

  • Refractive Errors

Refractive errors include near- and far-sightedness as well as astigmatism. These conditions are easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses like the ones available from Corrective laser surgeries are not recommended for children as their eyes are not done developing yet.

Helping children improve vision

There are some at-home practices that may help improve a child’s vision, depending on their situation. These suggestions may also help a child’s healthy eyes stay healthy. Remember, no one is born with full vision. Eyesight develops throughout a child’s life and continues to change even in adulthood.

While these tactics can be helpful, do not rely on them. Any vision or eye problems need to be addressed by a doctor. An optometrist may have specific treatments and suggestions for attaining optimal eye health. Never substitute home remedies for proper medical care.

  • Provide stimulating visual games

Building or linking blocks can be a great way to hone your child’s focusing and up-close vision. Puzzles are another good way to train a child’s eyes to focus and differentiate details.

  • Increase outdoor time

Multiple studies have linked increased time outdoors with lower rates of myopia.

  • Limit screen time

Digital screens can increase eye strain and bombard us with excess blue light. While blue light-blocking technology like Blue495 exists for glasses and eye strain can be avoided by blinking frequently and taking breaks, children are often unable or unwilling to abide by these methods. Consider limiting your child’s screen time, especially before bed.

Schedule an annual eye exam

Vision problems can start subtly. And children can sometimes be good at hiding their struggles from their friends and family. Be sure your child visits the optometrist every one to two years to make sure they have healthy eyes and the correct prescription.

Ordering children’s glasses online offers a wide selection of children’s lenses. Getting children to wear glasses can be difficult, but with the cute designs available, you may see them be more eager. Contact lenses are also available for older children. All you need is an up-to-date prescription from your eye doctor and you’re set to shop for the best styles and prices.