Children in their young and formative years absorb knowledge and learn easily. Their eyes are their main tools in educating themselves through observation of the adults and their surroundings. Clear vision is important for optimal learning. Unfortunately, these windows to the world are not always perfect.

Kids are most likely unaware of any impairment to their vision because they have been seeing the same way since they can remember. Younger children may not be capable of verbalizing their situation. It’s the role of the parents to find out if their child has poor eyesight. Here are some indicators to watch out for:

Eye appearance

  • Misalignment of the eyes. Crossed eyes or eyes pointing in different directions could mean that your child has strabismus or amblyopia.
  • Redness, watering or whiteness of the eyes. These could be symptoms of irritation or something worse, like glaucoma or cataract.
  • Erratic wiggling and jerking of the eyes. This is a sign of nystagmus, an eye complication.
  • Reaction to light of pupils is unequal or slow. Pupils, or the black part of the eyes, constrict with light and dilate with darkness. A child having these symptoms will most likely be sensitive to light.

Behavioral signs

  • Squinting, frequent blinking or rubbing of eyes. Some children will try to make up for focusing problems so watch out for these behaviors. This also includes using the hand to cover one eye, which may mean that one eye cannot focus properly.
  • Not being able to recognize their mother’s face or not responding to visual stimuli. Younger children over 8 weeks are expected to have developed shape and facial recognition.
  • A mobile child always bumping into objects or having poor hand-eye coordination possibly has poor vision to begin with.
  • Frequent headaches.  Address your child’s pain but don’t take out the fact that headaches are also indicators of visual impairment.
  • For older children who have started school, visual problems are associated with poor concentration, disinterest in reading and having crooked writing.
  • Tilting of the head or leaning closer to look at something. This includes sitting closer to TV, or looking at books too closely.

For a professional evaluation, schedule an eye screening or eye exam, especially if your child demonstrates any of the symptoms listed above. An eye exam is recommended at least once before he begins schooling, and then regularly after that at the suggestion of his optician.

Poor eyesight is not only caused by genetic factors, but also by neglect. Practicing proper care of the eyes is just as important. Promote good vision by helping your kids practice a balanced lifestyle (limit time in front of TV/computer/videogame screen) and preparing nutritious food, especially the ones rich in vitamin A.