Did you know that over 80% of children’s learning is done through their eyes? This is partly why eye problems can cause learning difficulties.

Some of your child’s habits or aches and pains may seem trivial, but can be crucial in detecting vision problems. Early detection makes it possible to find the best solution for your child and ensure optimal vision development. That’s why it’s essential to look for early signs of vision impairment.

Here are some of the things you can look for to help you spot the early signs of eye diseases or vision impairment in your child.

Physical signs

Physical signs are the most obvious indications that there is something wrong with your child’s general eye health. Be alert if you notice the following:

  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Recurring styes
  • Encrusted eyes or whitish flakes at the base of lashes
  • Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Headaches
  • Frequent rubbing of the eyes

Physiological signs

Not only are these symptoms unpleasant, they can also be a sign of an eye problem. Don’t hesitate to mention them to your optometrist to determine the cause:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

Behavioural signs

As mentioned above, eyes play a major role in childhood learning. But since the problems encountered by toddlers can be caused by many different factors, it is important to ask them questions to understand why they’ve developed certain habits, such as:

  • Being reluctant to work up close
  • Frequently using their finger while reading to avoid losing their spot
  • Sitting close to the TV or holding a book close to their face
  • Closing one eye to read or watch TV
  • Squinting or leaning forward to see the board in class
  • Avoiding using a computer because it hurts their eyes

The signs can also be more subtle. At first glance, you may not necessarily associate the following symptoms with an eye problem:

  • Being inattentive or frequently daydreaming
  • Losing their place while reading
  • Having difficulty remembering what they read
  • Skipping or rereading words
  • Constantly inverting letters (for students in grade three and above)
  • Confusing similar words
  • Displaying a lack of hand-eye coordination and general clumsiness or awkwardness
  • Receiving lower grades than usual

If you observe one of these symptoms in your child, tell your optometrist; he or she will direct you to the appropriate resources. If your child does not display any signs of vision problems, a first eye exam is recommended at age three to make sure their eyes are healthy. After this first exam, a complete eye exam should be done before they start kindergarten and then annually thereafter.

This exam is covered by RAMQ for children under 18, so you have nothing to lose in making sure your child’s eyes are healthy.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s vision, feel free to contact your Opto-Réseau optometrist at your local clinic.