Parents are often concerned about their children's vision, possibly because they are too young to undergo an eye examination or they are struggling in school or with behavior. Parents are interested in knowing what are the warning signs that their kids may be having an eye issue. In this blog we share the top things to pay attention to that may indicate that your child has an underlying vision problem. 

There are three categories of symptoms that can indicate your child has a vision problem:

  • Physical symptoms such as a headache or nausea
  • Behavioral symptoms such as tilting their head, covering one eye, or losing their place when reading 
  • Visual symptoms such as complaining that it is hard to see what they read or see the board, that they see double, or that things look blurry

What are the different physical symptoms that can be an indication of underlying vision problems in children?

There are physical symptoms that may present themselves in a kid who has an underlying vision problem. Oftentimes these symptoms will be most prevalent after reading or doing near visual tasks for extended periods of time. 

Common examples include: 

  • Headaches
  • Eye strain/ eye fatigue/ rubbing their eyes/ complaining that their eyes hurt
  • Feeling sick, or having a nauseous feeling when your child reads 
  • Fatigue after school or when they read for a long time, their eyes and body may become tired. 

All of these symptoms may indicate that they have a problem with eye teaming or focusing. These symptoms usually occur when they read closely or do anything up close. The longer they read, the more likely these symptoms will occur. These problems only occur when you read small printed books, not large picture books. This can also indicate the presence of a vision issue as small print has a high demand on the eyes, such as focusing and teaming. 

What are some common behavioral symptoms that a child with an underlying visual deficit experience?

At our NYC pediatric optometry clinic we tell parents that one of the best ways to identify if your child should have a more thorough evaluation called a functional or developmental eye exam is if their child is displaying behavioral symptoms. 

You might notice these things as a parent that the kid does that seem unusual:

  • Getting way too close to a page when your child is reading
  • Closing an eye when they are reading or close an eye and turning their head when they are reading
  • Refusing to do school work 
  • Not comprehending what they read 
  • Writing sloppy or on a slant 
  • Losing their place frequently

Behavioral changes you notice could indicate that your child has a vision problem, and you should have it checked out. 

What are some of the visual symptoms that a child might have an underlying vision problem? 

When parents visit our NYC pediatric eye center, we often hear the comment “my child never mentioned that they see double or blurry”. Out of the list of things to look out for, visual symptoms are usually the least likely to present themselves. It doesn’t mean that the child doesn’t have those symptoms, rather the child is unaware that the way they see is different than other children, and it is not as identifiable to a parent looking from the outside. Nonetheless it is something you should talk with your child about and visual experiences are another thing to keep an eye out for. The things your child sees, and only your child can tell you about if your child is verbal or old enough to be verbal. Those are things like double vision, blurry vision, or seeing words swim on a page. Having words swim off of a page is a consistent sign of binocular vision impairment.    

Schedule a Pediatric Functional Eye Exam With a Pediatric Optometrist

Take our online visual skills assessment to help identify if you or your child has a potential visual deficit that may be interfering with success in the classroom, work, or sports. Use this as a checklist for all the symptoms described above and check all the symptoms your child is experiencing. Once you have evaluated your child's vision to your best ability, if there are indications of an underlying vision problem, you should schedule a pediatric functional eye examination with your child's optometrist. They will review your checklist to compare what they see during the eye examination with what you have been seeing at home. Your child will benefit from sharing this information with your child's eye doctor not so they can get the most comprehensive exam possible and see the importance that you place on proactive eye and vision health.

Visit a Vision Therapy optometrist at an Amplify EyeCare practice near you:


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