Identifying health issues and vision problems in small children is extremely difficult in general, and this is certainly true for eye health as well. Children are not always able to understand or vocalize the vision issues they are experiencing, or they may not even be aware that there is a problem. Most young children will receive early vision tests through their family pediatrician or through a school physician. While these tests are good for identifying major vision problems, there are many eye health issues that are often overlooked by these screenings.
In order to determine if a child is having trouble with depth perception, color deficiency, or eye muscle coordination, the child will need to see an optometrist who has the skills, knowledge, and equipment to perform the necessary tests. Recent studies have shown that these types of eye exams can actually play a vital role in determining if the child is showing signs of serious learning disabilities or other mental health issues.
Unfortunately, most parents wait to have their child examined by an optometrist until the child is showing actual eye related pain or a noticeable vision problem. While it is recommended that every child have a thorough exam with a pediatric optometrist, there are warning signs that a parent can look for that would signify an eye health issue.
The need to hold materials closer to their eyes than normal in order to focus.
The tendency to tilt or turn their head as they read or focus on another person. The child may be consciously or unconsciously favoring one eye over the other in order to accommodate for a weakness in one eye.
The orientation or movement of one eye seems to be inconsistent. A lazy eye, or an eye that is turned inward or outward.
The child will have trouble writing, and may reverse letters. While this may be a problem with dyslexia, it can also be linked to an eye health issue.
Poor hand eye coordination.
The child frequently experiences symptoms such as headaches, red, itchy dry eyes, or continually shows discomfort by rubbing their eyes.
Many eye health conditions in young children are confused with other medical conditions because parents are not familiar with the common signs. As a result, the children often do not receive the early treatments they need to begin correcting the issues. As with most other medical conditions, the key to protecting and strengthening a child’s eye health and vision is to take preventative measures, catch problems early, and purse early corrective treatments.
If you are a parent, or an eye health care professional, it is important to understand and share these warning signs with the community, especially parents. Ideally, every single child should have a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist before they ever begin school. These exams can ensure that the child is not experiencing any learning disorders or vision problems that would impede on their chances of receiving a successful education.