Most common Eye Problems in Kids

Many eye conditions and diseases can affect a child’s vision. Some of the more common eye problems in kids are focus and alignment disorders and eye diseases. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to maintaining your child’s eye health.If any of the following conditions is suspected, the child will need to be examined by a pediatric optometrist.

Just as with annual physical examinations, it is equally important to have regular pediatric eye examinations. If you experience any of the following eye changes, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist or optometrist immediately, even if you have been to your eye doctor recently:

  • Severe, sudden eye pain
  • Recurrent pain in or around the eye
  • Hazy, blurred, or double vision
  • Seeing flashes of light or sudden bright floating spots
  • Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
  • Seeing floating “spider webs”
  • Seeing a “curtain coming down” over one eye
  • Unusual, even painful, sensitivity to light or glare
  • Swollen, red eyes
  • Changes in the color of the iris
  • White areas in the pupil of the eye
  • Sudden development of persistent floaters
  • Itching, burning, or a heavy discharge in the eyes
  • Any sudden change in vision

Important signs to watch out with your child:

Short Attention Span
Vision problems can lead to short attention span in kids. They will face problems in paying attention to anything for long. The child may also lose interest in games that require using eyes for long or focusing.

Inconsistent Reading Pace
If your child frequently loses track of the lines from where he/ she was reading or faces difficulties in reading, then it could be due to a vision problem. You must see Kids Eye Doctor immediately. 

Avoiding Reading or Other Close Focus Activities
It is not abnormal for kids to start avoiding reading and similar activities that need close focus. However, you must pay attention to such behavior and never write it off as another trick to avoid studies. It could be a signal of eye problems. You must take your ward to a Pediatric Eye Doctor for a thorough screening.

Child Turning Head to the Side when looking in Front
This can be serious if it keeps getting ignored for long. If your child is turning his/her head to one side to look at things in the front, then it is a sign of astigmatism. This is a refractive error and it can be corrected if treated on time.

Vision problems in the U.S. Infographic


From the time they are born, babies begin to develop visual abilities. Before they can reach or grab with their hands, they are learning to focus their eyes and will eventually use their vision to begin to understand the world around them.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to recognize vision problems in infants and young children. Often, children do not even know they are seeing poorly, making it difficult for parents to recognize signs or symptoms of vision problems. That is why the American Optometric Association recommends that parents take their children in for their first comprehensive eye exam when they are 6 months old. If there are no issues, the next eye exam should be scheduled for when the child is 3 years old and then every 2 years after that. 

Preschool Through High School

Children experience drastic growth in intellectual and motor skills when they are toddlers. Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and perceptual abilities begin to develop and prepare them to read and write as well as participate in sports and other activities. Any issues with vision at this stage can lead to noticeable delays in a child’s development.

Vision problems that continue to go undetected can lead older children to suffer both academically and socially. Children that have problems with their vision can often struggle with hand-eye coordination and reading, and may experience frustration and behavioral problems as a result. Symptoms of vision problems that parents may detect in older children include:

  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Frequent blinking or eye rubbing
  • Headaches
  • Seeing double
  • Covering one eye
  • Short attention span
  • Tilting the head to one side

The Eye Exam

At the start of any eye exam, especially for children who are too young to speak, the eye doctor will begin with patient history. Some eye conditions are linked strongly to family history, but the optometrist will also want to know about the child’s general health, developmental history and any problems the parents may have noticed.

In addition to basic visual acuity, an eye exam may asses the following visual skills that are required for learning and mobility:

  • Focusing
  • Tracking
  • How the eyes work together
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Color vision
  • Peripheral vision

Dr. Michele Schlagheck is a part of the InfantSEE program that provides no cost eye examinations to infants between the ages of 6-12 months of age.  Early detection of eye conditions is the best way to ensure a baby has healthy vision for successful development-now and in the future.

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