7 troubling signs your child needs an eye exam
We all want our kids to grow up healthy and happy. A big part of that is having clear vision. Unfortunately, many parents take normal vision for granted, and miss some common signs that their child is having trouble seeing. Here are some handy tips to keep a watch for:
1. Sitting close to the TV
Countless kids have been brought to the eye doctor for their first eye exam because they stand WAY too close to the TV. Today’s generation of young kids will commonly hold a tablet or phone really close to their face.
Sometimes, this is just kids wanting to be right on top of the action. However, any significant astigmatism or other refractive error could show up this way first. The safest answer is to have a full dilated eye exam to measure their prescription.
2. “Red eye” Reflex in only one eye on photos
Newer cell phone technology has helped eliminate many unwanted “red eye” reflexes on our digital photos, but this natural phenomenon might be the first clue at showing your child has an eye problem.
When a camera flash illuminates the subject of the photo, a red reflection from the eye’s retinal tissue is shown back to the camera. When both eyes are focused on the camera, both eyes should have a bright and equal reflex.
If only one eye has this reflex (like the picture above), this could indicate a problem like an eye disease or an eye turn (“lazy eye”). Contact us immediately if you see this happening in your children’s photos.
3. Rubbing eyes
Kids will often rub their eyes, not realizing the harm it may cause. One of the hallmark signs of a disease called Keratoconus is excessive eye rubbing. Allergic conjunctivitis may also be a common finding. Rarely, severe genetic vision disorders may first present with severe rubbing of the eyes. Bottom line is: let us check your child if they are rubbing their eyes.
4. Keeps one eye closed
Kids are smart. If they are getting double vision or blurred vision because one eye is abnormal, they will learn to close that eye. That’s where parents need to be watching.
If your child is consistently closing off one eye, especially when they are concentrating on a task, that’s a red flag that needs to be checked.
5. Mom and/or Dad have eye problems
The apple usually doesn’t fall far from the tree. If one or both parents wear glasses or have a history of eye disease, your child may very well inherit your genes and have some trouble as well.
6. Poor grades
A large majority of our learning is vision based, up to 80% according to some experts. Most kids are able to focus more effortlessly than adults, but some children have difficulty focusing their eyes at near for long periods. If this happens, they will most likely avoid reading/studying/homework.
Kids also routinely become nearsighted in their young middle school years. They often don’t understand why the board has started to become blurry. Glasses may be an easy fix for sagging grades.
Headaches are frequently caused by eyestrain, especially if they occur later in the day. We can help determine if your child’s headaches and squinting are from needing glasses, or from a more serious problem that your pediatrician can help manage.