You've noticed your child squints. Does she have a vision problem?
4 Clues of Childhood Vision Problems
Her eyes cross or don’t line up with each other.
She has trouble seeing things far away.
It might be: Nearsightedness, or myopia.
She can’t things close up.
It might be: Farsightedness, or hyperopia.
Her vision is blurry.
It might be: A problem called astigmatism. It means the cornea of her eye is curved and can't focus on images clearly.
Other Common Problems
Some kids have a lazy eye. You might hear her doctor call it amblyopia. She may not have symptoms. But the doctor should be able to spot it during a regular eye exam. He can usually correct (or improve) it if he finds and treats it early enough. She may have to wear an eye patch on her stronger eye. It’s rare, but some kids need surgery to align their eyes.
Less common problems include:
- Glaucoma : A group of diseases that damage the eye’s main nerve. It's more common later in life, but some children are born with glaucoma or develop it as they grow.
- Cataracts: These cloud the lens of your eye. They’re also more common in older adults. But some children are born with them or get them from diabetes or childhood diseases.
- Retinoblastoma : A rare cancer of the retina.
Watch Those Eyes
Kids with vision problems will show some similar behaviors. Most of the time, they squint. You child might be having trouble with her sight if she:
- Complains about headaches or blurry vision
- Closes one eye
- Rubs her eyes
- Complains about pain in one or both eyes
- Has an eye that turns in, out, up, down, or wanders
- Has eyes that cross or can't focus
- Holds books really close to see the words
If you spot one of these symptoms, make an appointment with her pediatrician or an eye doctor. Getting a checkup right away can let the doctor find vision problems before they can affect her sight -- and school performance. It’s very important to watch your child, since many kids don’t know something is wrong!
Is It Time for Glasses?
Glasses are usually the solution for kids who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism. To get your child fitted, see an eye specialist. Plastic frames and shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses are best for active kids.
Let your child pick her own frames -- it can help her feel involved. Make the process fun. If she hears negative comments about glasses, she probably won't want to wear them.
LASIK and other vision correction surgeries are generally not an option for kids younger than 18. Their prescription and eye growth haven’t stabilized. In rare cases, LASIK is used for children with severe vision problems that don't improve with glasses or contacts.