Spotting Not-So-Obvious Vision Problems in Kids

How can parents tell if their kids — from toddlers to preschoolers — are having vision problems? The most obvious sign is frequent squinting, or they straight out tell you if they’re older and are able to do so.

But sometimes vision problems in younger kids are not so obvious. And in toddlers, the signs may not seem related to vision health. Your pediatrician or family doctor may be the first healthcare giver that spots the problem.

“You should look for actions that don’t seem to make sense, like your little one has problems grasping things or he or she is constantly tilting his or her head to one side,” says Javier Hiriart, M.D., a pediatrician and physician with Baptist Health Primary Care. “Make sure you relay any behavior that seems out of the ordinary to your doctor.”

Success in school is related to eye health. That’s why it is so important for kids to have regular eye screenings with an ophthalmologist or another professional who is properly trained to assess vision in school-age children. Your pediatrician can direct you to an eye specialist.

“The earlier a vision problem is treated, the better for your child — especially in school where good vision is critical for learning,” says Dr. Hiriart.

Here are “four hidden signs of vision problems in kids,” according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

Having a short attention span.

Your child might seem to quickly lose interest in games or other activities that require using their eyes for an extended period of time.

Losing their place when reading.

As your child reads (aloud or silently), they may have difficulty seeing to keep track of where they are on the page.

Avoiding reading and other close activities.

Whether they are subtle or obvious about it, your child may choose to avoid reading, drawing, playing games or other projects that require focusing up close.

Turning their head to the side.

Children may turn their head to the side when looking at something in front of them. This may be a sign of a refractive error, including astigmatism. Turning their head helps them see better.

A refractive error can result in a blurred image. The main types are myopia nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (loss of near vision with age), and astigmatism, which is a common imperfection in the curvature of the eye.

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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