If your child isn't doing well in school, his or her academic ability may not be the problem. Those routine vision screenings schools provide don't always pick up on a child's vision impairment. But there are signs you can watch for that may alert you to the possibility that your child's vision isn't what it should be.
Trouble making left-to-right tracking movements with the eyes.
Children who tend to lose their place while reading often have astigmatism (blurry vision) or strabismus (eyes don't line up). Either of these vision problems can cause a child to skip words or entire lines when reading.
Using a finger to guide reading.
If your child uses a finger to read, he or she may have a vision problem. Amblyopia (decreased vision in one eye) can make letters and words look like they're closer together, making it difficult to separate them to read.
Moving objects closer to the eyes.
Your child may be nearsighted – a condition in which objects in the distance look blurry – if he or she brings a book or other printed materials closer to the eyes when reading. Moving a book closer to the eyes or leaning down closer to a book on the desk helps bring the words into focus for people who are nearsighted.
Partly closing one or both eyes when reading or doing other schoolwork may be a sign that your child has blurred vision. Squinting can help improve vision by narrowing the opening through which light enters the eye, which blocks some of the bent light rays that cause refractive errors.
Closing one eye.
Reading with one eye shut can be a sign of poor vision in that eye. It may also be a sign of double vision in one eye – a symptom of strabismus. Weak eye muscles or the misalignment of one or both eyes associated with strabismus can cause double vision.
Rubbing the eyes.
Frequent eye rubbing may be a sign that your child is experiencing eye fatigue – often a sign of a vision problem. Kids rub their eyes for other reasons, but if your child does it each time he or she is trying to concentrate while reading or writing, a vision problem may be at the root of the cause.
Suffering headache pain.
If your child complains of chronic headaches – particularly across the forehead or brow area – he or she may be farsighted (close objects look blurry). Your child may strain to see objects up close, which can lead to eyestrain and headaches, causing your child to have trouble reading.
Since most vision problems can be corrected – especially if caught early – it's important to take your child to an eye care professional at a location like Wear Eyewear for a comprehensive eye exam if you notice any signs that something may be wrong.