Spotting vision issues in your child: it is not always clear

By Carolina Boyd

Parents know to take their children to a doctor when they are ill or the dentist when they have a toothache; but it may be more difficult for them to know when it is time to see an eye doctor. Vision problems in kids are common. An estimated 10 percent of preschoolers and up to 25 percent of school-aged children have vision problems, which can affect their ability to learn, play sports and fully enjoy other childhood activities.

“It is important for children to get regular eye exams because a lot of vision problems can be missed in the classroom,” said Dr. Jerson Desiderio, Legacy Community Health Optometrist.  “Children usually don’t know what ‘normal’ vision should look like so they generally will not know they have something like blurry vision unless it is very obvious.”

The American Optometric Association recommends a first eye examination beginning at age 6 to 12 months old, at least once between ages 3 to 5, and then at least once a year between ages 6 to 18. This will help to catch many problems early on.

Vision screenings by your child’s pediatrician or the school nurse are helpful but are meant to alert parents to potential vision problems, not take the place of a comprehensive eye exam.

Parents should keep a look out for symptoms of vision problems like squinting, sitting too close to the TV, complaining of eyestrain or headaches. These could be signs of nearsightedness, which is common in children.

“Also, if a child tilts their head to see things clearly, that could mean they need glasses to correct for an astigmatism. If a child complains that their head hurts especially around the brow region when learning to read or doing homework, they may have issues that prevent prolonged study,” said Dr. Desiderio.

Since 80 percent of what a child learns in school is presented visually, it is important to catch vision issues early to ensure a child’s success both inside and outside the classroom.

“When a child is unable to see the board at school they will have a more difficult time trying to pay attention. This is especially true for those that are visual learners and need to visualize a concept in order to understand,” said Dr. Desiderio.

If you have concerns about your child’s vision, call (832) 548-5000 to schedule a visit with a Legacy Community Health vision professional.

Image courtesy of Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay