Detecting Vision Problems in Children
There is more to determining your child’s visual acuity than just reading an eye chart. Vision is complex. It involves the ability to focus, distinguish colors, and coordinate head and eye movements.
Many children don’t know they have eye problems and so they don’t seek help. Therefore, parents have to be on the alert.
By 6 months the eyes of a newborn baby should be steady and straight. To be sure that the eyes are functioning properly, have them thoroughly examined during infancy and annually thereafter. Between checkups look for these clues to vision problems.
The physical appearance of the eye may change when there is an impairment. Changes include excessive watering, hazy pupils, swollen or encrusted eyelids, frequent sties and extreme sensitivity to light.
Often, coordination problems are the tip-off. Does the baby have difficulty picking things up? Does the child frequently bump into things, trip and stumble? Does he or she tilt or turn her head strangely?
Headaches, squinting, blinking, favoring one eye and rubbing the eyes are indicative of problems. Also, the child who holds objects very close or very far away may not be seeing correctly.
The school-age youngster with vision disorders sometimes has trouble with blackboard work. His written work may provide clues such as poor alignment, confusion of letters and unusual color choices. In addition, the child may become irritable when doing work or playing games which require vision skills.