A massive one in five children has a vision problem that hasn’t been detected yet[i]. Good vision is vital for learning – a massive 80 per cent is done via sight[ii]! Yet, kids of all ages have trouble recognising when they have a problem with their vision. With nothing to compare their sight with, they’ll probably accept that what they’re seeing is normal and that they’re seeing the world in the same way as everyone else. Your child probably won’t be able to talk to you about what they’re experiencing if vision deterioration is slow, too. The result? Frustration, irritation and a loss of concentration or decreased performance at school.
The common signs and symptoms of vision problems in kids
Vision problems mean that kids can face challenges at school, which are often misdiagnosed as ADHD, dyslexia or other learning difficulties[iii]. So it’s important to know the signs. Watch out for:
- Eye strain
- Blurred or double vision
- Cross eyes or eyes that appear to move independently of each other
- A dislike of reading and up close work
- Short attention span during visual tasks
- Turning or tilting of the head, or closing or covering one eye to read
- Placing the head very close to a book or desk when reading or writing
- Constant blinking or eye rubbing
- Using a finger as a guide while reading and/or often losing where they are up to
- Slow rate of reading or poor understanding of reading
- Difficulty remembering what has been read
- Leaving out words, repeating words or confusing similar words while reading
- Poor eye-hand coordination.
If your child shows one or more of these symptoms, it could be due to a vision problem.
What to do
Many kids have never had a comprehensive eye examination, which is one reason why vision problems go unrecognised for so many children. Your optometrist is trained to pick up and treat problems effectively. Book your child in for an eye exam at least once every two years – more often if your optometrist recommends it.
And, if your optometrist doesn’t detect a vision problem, your child’s symptoms may be caused by another condition such as dyslexia or another learning disability. Knowing about this early is important and your GP can refer you to an educational specialist to help find the root of the problem. Either way, your child gets the treatment they need.
[i] Optometry Australia. Your Eyes. http://www.optometry.org.au/your-eyes/your-child’s-eyes/
[ii] Midwestern University. Uncorrected Vision Issues Misdiagnosed as Learning Disabilities in Children. https://www.midwestern.edu/news-and-events/university-news/uncorrected-vision-issues-misdiagnosed-as-learning-disabilities-in-children.html
[iii] Midwestern University. Uncorrected Vision Issues Misdiagnosed as Learning Disabilities in Children. https://www.midwestern.edu/news-and-events/university-news/uncorrected-vision-issues-misdiagnosed-as-learning-disabilities-in-children.html