Diagnosing And Treating Vision Problems In Young Children

It may seem difficult to figure out if a young child needs an eye exam, especially toddlers and preschoolers that can't always voice their difficulty seeing. The following are signs that your child may need a vision screening, along with what to expect during the exam.

Symptoms of a Vision Issue

The following symptoms and signs may indicate a vision problem, but it will require a visit to an optometrist to verify that the symptom is the result of an eye or vision concern.

  • Squinting, especially when studying something up close or trying to see something far away. Young children may also pinch the corners of their eyes with their finger, as though they are trying to manually make their eyes squint.

  • Covering or a closing one eye when trying to look at or study something. This may indicate that there is an issue in only one eye while the other eye sees more clearly.

  • Headaches and irritability, including temple rubbing, crying, and complaints of the head hurting, are major signs of a vision problem, especially if they often occur after a vision intensive activity, like drawing or watching television.

  • Eye rubbing can also indicate vision difficulties. Small children may rub their eyes until they become irritated in an attempt to clear their vision.

  • A dislike of detailed vision activities, such as reading, looking at picture books, or coloring. Your child may also sit too close to the television or complain that things look blurry or cloudy.

What To Expect at the Eye Exam

Most eye exams will start with a basic screening. This will give the optometrist a chance to see if there are issues beyond normal near- or farsightedness affecting the child. They will have the child follow a beam of of light with their eyes to make sure the eyes are tracking correctly, as well as perform tests to look for proper dilation and pupil responses.

During the exam the doctor will first look for any irregularities on the lens of the eye, which may indicate an astigmatism. This will then be followed by the thorough exam to determine what type of prescription lenses your child may need. If tracking or other problems are found, you may be referred to an occupational therapist that works with vision problems, or you may need to use an eye patch or other ocular device to help correct the issue. Contact a local optometrist, like those at Montgomery Eye Center, for more information.