Your child needs to see an eye doctor. It’s not always an obvious observation. Small children can't tell you if they're not seeing well, and older kids may not recognize their blurry eyesight isn't normal.
So how do you know when it's time to take your kiddo in to have a thorough eye exam? Fortunately, observing your child's day-to-day activities can clue you in. Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to make a vision appointment.
Sits too Close to the TV
One of the biggest hints that a child may need an eye exam is taking note of where they sit when watching TV. Dashing up to stand in front of the television is usually a sign that their eyes need to be checked out.
Holds Items Close to Face
By the same token, the same goes for kids that hold books, tablets or phones up close to their face. There are apps designed to keep tablets and phones at a safe viewing distance.
Hunches over Schoolwork
Kids who need an eye exam will often sit hunched over their drawings or homework, which keeps the paper and their writing closer to their faces. Furthermore, they may just avoid schoolwork entirely to prevent eye strain.
Squinting actually changes the shape of the eye a bit so light focuses correctly on a person's retina. Squinting (at something close or something at a distance) is a dead giveaway that your child's vision may not be what it can be.
Has Eyes That Appear Crossed
Crossed eyes are also known as strabismus. This misalignment of the eyes is due to weakened eye muscles. It can be medically treated with eye glasses, eye exercises, prism or eye muscle surgery.
Complains about Frequent Headaches
While frequent headaches don't necessarily mean your child has an eye problem, it can be an indicator that a child is having trouble seeing.
Complains about Eye Pain
Eye pain may be a symptom of something as minor as eye strain (something that is easily corrected with prescription eyeglasses), but it can also indicate another health problem. An eye doctor will provide a proper diagnosis.
Has Certain Medical Conditions
Some kids are more at risk of developing eyesight problems and should be examined more frequently. This includes prematurity, infection of the mother during pregnancy, or family history of retinoblastoma or congenital cataracts.
Also, other medical conditions can warrant more frequent checks, such as juvenile arthritis or diabetes, which can negatively affect the eyes. Work with your child's health care providers and keep to their recommendations.
Celebrates Certain Birthdays
Even if your child doesn't have any obvious symptoms of an eye issue, you should still have them looked at on a regular basis. The American Optometric Association has developed a recommended schedule for routine eye exams. Their recommendations include: