Prevent Blindness found that more than one in five preschool-aged children enrolled in Head Start have a vision disorder. Uncorrected vision problems can impair child development, interfere with learning, and even lead to permanent vision loss.

A baseline assessment of your child’s vision and eye health should be performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist before 12 months of age. The toddler years are crucial for developing healthy vision and skills needed for learning and interacting with others. You might be thinking, how is a toddler supposed to read an eye chart?

During your little ones first few eye exams, you should expect the doctor to use a series of pictures and light to study your child’s eye through a vision assessment, external inspection of eyes and lids, motility assessment, pupil examination and a red-reflex examination.

After their first eye exam, children need to have their eyes examined at the age of three and just before they enter first grade. School-aged children should have yearly eye exams.

Common Eye Problems Among Children

Poor vision and eye problems don’t just occur to those over the age of 40. Below are the most common eye problems among children:

  • Eye Allergies: Eye allergies are caused by things like pet dander, plants/pollen and mold. If you notice your child’s eyes watering or appearing dry and irritated, it could be a sign that they are experiencing allergies.
  • Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis is commonly referred to as pink eye. Pink eye is caused by either bacteria, viruses or allergies. If you notice that your child has red, swollen eyes with discharge, they could have conjunctivitis.
  • Amblyopia: Amblyopia is commonly known as lazy eye. This disorder typically begins in infancy and early childhood and impacts visual acuity and development of vision. If amblyopia goes untreated, it can cause long-term vision problems.
  • Refractive Errors: Refractive errors such as astigmatism, hyperopia (farsightedness) and myopia (nearsightedness) are common among toddlers and children. These errors can be corrected by eyeglasses prescribed by an eye doctor.
  • Strabismus: Crossed eyes are the common name for strabismus. This occurs when the eyes do not move in unison or align in the same direction.

When it’s Time to Take Your Child to the Doctor

Eye problems like the ones mentioned above are common in young children, but they will most likely be unable to identify this problem themselves. As a parent, it is important for you to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of common eye problems. Here are some signs that could mean that your child has an eye problem:

  • Light sensitivity — indoor and outdoor
  • Avoiding activities that involve coloring, puzzles and strong details
  • Covering one or both eyes
  • Eyes are drooping or misaligned
  • Looking at objects such as books too closely
  • Squinting or overcorrecting their eyes when looking at objects
  • Consistent eye rubbing
  • Turning one or both eyes in and out
  • Tilting their head
  • Clumsiness
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Anath Foundation

A portion of your purchase is donated to the Anath Foundation to help families on their cancer journey. Learn more about the impact of your purchase!

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