Refractive errors are a common vision problem for kids. Normally, your eye takes in light and refracts (or bends) it to produce an image for your brain to interpret. If light isn’t properly refracted, the image may be blurred, according to the National Eye Institute.
Refractive errors include nearsightedness (difficulty seeing at a far distance), farsightedness (difficulty seeing up close), and astigmatism (general blurred vision at any distance). Refractive errors are pretty common and tend to start in childhood, and luckily, all of these can be effectively treated with glasses or contacts.
Young children may not always be able to recognize on their own if they’re having vision problems. They also may notice they have blurry vision, but are trying to hide it because they don’t want to wear glasses.
That’s where you come in. Even if your child doesn’t tell you they are having trouble seeing, there are some classic signs that give it away.
1. Difficulty reading or doing homework
Your child may suddenly begin to struggle with written text. It might even seem like your child has reading problems—saying the wrong word, stuttering or stumbling, or taking long pauses between words. Having your child read aloud may help detect if your child needs glasses.
Additionally, your child may struggle with their homework. Not only are they having difficulty reading their worksheets and assigned chapters, but they might also be missing valuable information in class if they can’t see the whiteboard.
If your kid’s grades suddenly take a dip, it’s worth evaluating their eyesight. (A drop in grades could also be a sign of ADHD.)
Squinting is easily the most obvious sign your kid needs glasses. Squinting provides a temporary relief from blurred vision, as it helps bring those hazy objects into focus.
3. Always looking “close up”
Watch your kid while they read, write, or do homework. If they stick their face right up to books or papers, that’s a common sign of nearsightedness.
Additionally, they are more likely to sit close to the television, walk right up to signs, or ask you to read menus to them that are far away (such as at fast food restaurants, where the menu is displayed on the wall behind the counter).
4. Rubbing eyes
A child with vision problems may struggle with eye strain, a side effect of all that squinting. This may cause them to rub their eyes frequently, or potentially have headaches.
Poor vision can really have a negative effect on many parts of a kid’s life, including their education, hobbies, self-esteem, and sense of independence. Your child should already have regular eye exams with an optometrist or ophthalmologist; however, if you notice your kid exhibiting signs of vision problems, the sooner you can get them eye care, the better.
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