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young boy squinting at eyechart

According to the CDC, around 6.8% of children in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition.

This just represents the fortunate ones who have a diagnosis. There may be many more children out there who have not yet received the vision care they need. This is likely to be much higher in children with learning difficulties and put them at risk of missing out on vital learning opportunities.

There are many types of vision problems that can occur in childhood and they’re not always picked up in the classroom.

Let’s explore childhood vision problems and how parents, teachers, and others can recognize them.

Common Types of Vision Problems in Children

Children may complain of blurred vision. But the question, what causes blurred vision? has many potential answers. The most common problems with children’s vision are nearsightedness and astigmatism, but there are more to be aware of.

Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Nearsightedness or myopia commonly emerges between the ages of 6 and 14. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates it affects around 5% of preschoolers, 9% of school-aged kids, and 30% of teens.

Some doctors have raised concerns that the pandemic will increase myopia in children. This is due to the increased screen time made necessary by online schooling.

Schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist if you notice your child:

  • Squinting
  • Eye rubbing
  • Blurry vision and headache

Corrective lenses are a simple and cost-effective solution and can resolve all these issues.

Farsightedness (Hyperopia)

Farsightedness is even more common. It causes objects to look blurry up close. Many children have mild hyperopia and grow out of it as they age.

Look out for signs including:

  • Eye strain
  • Reading difficulties
  • Tiredness

Some children need glasses to compensate for hyperopia and relieve these symptoms. Regular vision care is essential to get them the correct diagnosis.


When a child has astigmatism, their eye is shaped like a football.

It’s beneficial if you can catch this condition early. The earlier it is treated, the less likely they are to develop a lazy eye and other conditions. Also, they’re less likely to have to wear glasses in adulthood.

Some signs include:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Squinting or blinking a lot
  • Closing one eye to see better
  • Turning or tilting the head
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Developmental delays
  • Misaligned eyes (Strabismus)

This is one of the most common double vision causes in children and affects around 4% of the US population.

It causes the eyes to point in different directions it has many causes. There are 12 nerves that play a role in eye movement. Three of them can become weak and cause misaligned eyes.

This can be treated in various ways, including with glasses, exercises, and sometimes surgery.

Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)

We usually think of a lazy eye being one that you can see is not focusing clearly. But this is often a sign of another condition, such as a squint, one of the refractory problems mentioned above, or even childhood cataracts.

A lazy eye is an eye that has not developed good vision. Babies are born with poor vision and their sight develops through the first eight years of life. Sometimes one eye does not develop as well as the other and they see less clearly out of that one.

It’s crucial to treat a lazy eye during childhood, otherwise the vision in the eye may never develop properly. This will be picked up during your child’s regular vision test. Your ophthalmologist will talk you through the treatment options.

Seeing Spots

Has your child complained that they can see spots or they have floating objects passing before their eyes? It’s usually just floaters in the gel inside the eye. Most are harmless, but seek immediate advice if they also complain of:

  • Flashing lights
  • Vision loss (even partial)

This can show that something more serious is going on, such as inflammation in the eye or a tear in the retina. Get them checked out without delay.

Issues With the Whites of the Eyes

It can be alarming if your child develops a spot on the white of their eye. Most are harmless, but it’s good to get them checked out.

Red spots are typically caused by broken blood vessels but usually resolve without treatment.  A brown spot is sometimes called an eye freckle and is also usually benign. But grey spots should always be checked out and if any type of spot changes in size or color, head straight to your ophthalmologist.

If spots occur after an injury to the eye, get them checked out immediately.

Misunderstood Signs Your Child Has a Vision Problem

If your child is struggling at school, their vision may be the culprit. Here are a few signs that you can easily attribute to other reasons that may indicate your child is struggling to see clearly.

Reading Difficulties

Dyslexia and other learning difficulties can cause reading problems. But if your child is struggling to keep track of where they are on the page, it could be a vision issue.

Does your child avoid reading as much as possible? Do they also avoid other close work, like coloring or drawing? This could be because they associate them with blurry vision and headaches!

Difficulty Concentrating

We live in a world of distractions. Kids with conditions like ADHD have an even bigger battle with getting distracted and struggling to concentrate. But so do kids with vision problems.

Getting an annual vision check is a good idea and may also help them cope better with other learning challenges.

Head Tilted to One Side

This may be a charming mannerism, or they may be trying to see more clearly. Either way, it’s good to get your child a vision check just to make sure.

Choose Brown & Toland Physicians for Outstanding Vision Care

Every parent wants their child to have the best vision possible as they grow up. Vision problems are common and the key to catching and treating them early is good vision care.

Regular vision care is also vital for children with learning difficulties. They may not be easily able to communicate their vision issues, leading them to miss out on visual learning opportunities.

At Brown & Toland, we give you access to Bay area ophthalmologists who can promptly identify and treat your child’s vision problems. Call us at 800.225.5637 or find a doctor online today.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The content of this Website or Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website or Blog.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.