Have you noticed that your child sits too close to the TV or computer screen? Holds a book too close when reading? Closes one eye when trying to see something? Does he/she have trouble seeing things up close, or far away? These are signs that your child might have a vision problem. To learn more, here is an excellent blog by Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in our Westchester Health Pediatrics group.
Signs to look for to determine if your child has a vision problem:
Babies up to 1 year of age
- Before 4 months, most babies’ eyes occasionally look misaligned (strabismus). However, after 4 months of age, inward crossing or outward drifting that occurs all the time is usually abnormal. If one of these is present, let your child’s doctor know.
- Babies older than 3 months should be able to follow or track an object with their eyes, such as a toy or ball, as it moves across their field of vision. If your baby can’t make steady eye contact by this time or seems unable to see the object, let your pediatrician know.
If your child’s eyes become misaligned, contact your pediatrician right away. Other vision problems, such as a lazy eye (amblyopia), may have no warning signs, and your child may not let on that he/she is having trouble seeing things. That’s why at Westchester Health Pediatrics, we tell our parents that it’s important to have your child’s vision checked before he/she starts school, because there are special tests that can be performed even before your child can read.
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, contact your pediatrician:
- Eyes that are misaligned (are crossed, turn out or don’t focus together)
- White or grayish-white color in the pupil
- Eyes that flutter quickly from side to side or up and down
- Eye pain, itchiness or discomfort reported by your child
- Redness in either eye that doesn’t go away in a few days
- Pus or crust in either eye
- Eyes that are always watery
- Drooping eyelids
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Over-sensitive to light
- Squinting to read
- Sitting too close to the TV or computer, or holding a book too close in order to see the print
- Frequent complaints of headaches
- Lower-than-expected grades in school
- Using a finger to guide eyes when reading
- Closing one eye to read
When to get your child’s eyes checked by an eye professional
Vision screening is a very important way to identify vision problems in your child. During a typical eye exam, a vision specialist checks to see if the eyes are working properly and looks for signs of eye disease. Children with a family history of vision problems are more likely to have them also.
- All babies should have their eyes checked for infections, defects, cataracts or glaucoma before leaving the hospital. This is especially true for premature babies, babies who were given oxygen for an extended period, and babies with multiple medical problems.
- By 6 months of age. As part of each well-baby visit, eye health, vision development and alignment of the eyes should be checked by your child’s pediatrician.
- 1 to 2 years. Special screening techniques allow your child’s pediatrician to start detecting potential eye problems.
- 3 to 4 years. Your child’s eyes and vision should be checked for any abnormalities that may cause problems with later development.
- 5 years and older. Your child’s vision in each eye should be checked separately every year. If a problem is found during an exam, your child’s pediatrician may refer him/her to a pediatric ophthalmologist, an eye doctor specially trained and experienced in the diagnosis and care of children’s eye problems.
Concerned that your child might have a vision problem? Come see us, we can help.
If you’re noticing signs that might indicate that your child may have a vision problem, please make an appointment with Westchester Health. One of our pediatricians will examine your child’s eyes and vision, make a diagnosis and if warranted, refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) so that hopefully your child will be seeing clearly soon. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Adler’s blog in full, click here.