At the Organization for the Prevention of Blindness (OPC), we work alongside critical health organizations, like the World Health Organization, as a leading resource for prevention and treatment of vision loss in all ages.
With a new school year upon us – and August being the National Children’s Vision and Learning Month – it’s the perfect time for parents, caregivers, and teachers to brush up on the signs of childhood vision loss and learn how to prevent it.
So how DO you know if your child has vision problems? Here are a few tell-tale signs that should prompt you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and helpful tips on how to prevent worsening vision loss.
Symptoms of Childhood Vision Problems
Kids may not be able to communicate their vision difficulties or even recognize there is a problem. That’s why observing their behaviors is critical to catching undiagnosed vision problems. Your child may:
- Squint or tilt their head to see better.
- Rub their eyes frequently, especially when concentrating.
- Hold objects close to their face.
- Avoid activities such as reading or board games that require good eyesight.
Vision is foundational to learning, as up to 80% of a child’s learning is done through their eyes. Untreated vision problems lead to a lower quality of life and education. Your child may:
- Struggle to read, lose their place on the page, or skip lines in a book.
- Have a short attention span due to challenges seeing.
- Receive lower grades than usual due to difficulty seeing the blackboard.
Changes in appearance or new physical symptoms can indicate a vision problem. Your child may experience:
- Crossed or misaligned eyes.
- Excessive tearing or redness.
- Drooping eyelids.
- Frequent headaches due to squinting and eye strain.
How to Prevent Vision Problems in Children
Annual Eye Exams
The most important way you can prevent the worsening of eye problems is to make an annual, comprehensive eye exam a priority. Just like an annual well exam by a pediatrician, it’s critical to make eye exams routine. A school vision screening is not comprehensive enough to rule out all eye problems, causing false assurance that your child can see well.
Wear Protective Eyewear
Protect your child’s eyes during sports with protective eyewear and in the sun with sunglasses.
Limit Screen Time and Play Outside More
Digital devices can strain your child’s eyes. Protect their eyes by limiting screen time and encouraging them to spend time outdoors. Being outside gives our eyes a break by giving us the opportunity to look at objects in the distance, instead of close up.
Sleep and Eat Well
Sleeping helps us heal and recharge. A healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, gives us the nutrients we need to maintain healthy eyes.
The Right to Sight
The Organization for the Prevention of Blindness (OPC) believes that everyone has the right to sight, no matter where they are born. Focusing on Francophone Africa, where there is a profound lack of investment as compared to English speaking countries of Africa, we provide preventative education and treatment to millions of individuals annually. Learn more about our life-changing programs and consider donating a tax-deductible charitable gift to help us continue making a difference in Africa.