According to research done by the NHS, children rarely complain about experiencing sight problems. But with short-sightedness (myopia) affecting one in three people in the UK, it’s important to get a check-up regularly (every 2 years is recommended for kids). Children may be unlikely to make complaints about their vision because they normally don’t even realise that they are experiencing problems, but there are plenty of signs you can look out for as a parent. Eye exams are currently free of charge for anyone under the age of 15 years and with NHS opticians being able to detect more than just short-sightedness (they can detect long-sightedness, lazy eye, squint or even childhood cataracts), it’s more important than ever to keep our kids’ eyes in check.
Here are 10 signs to look out for, which could mean that your child needs an eye examination.
Squinting is a natural reaction when you struggle to see something in front of you. Kids may squint if they are watching TV or if they are trying to see something in the distance. It is most likely to happen at school when they are trying to see the blackboard so if you’re unsure and you have suspicions, it could be worth speaking to their teacher.
2. Covering One Eye
Kids may be unlikely to complain about their vision problems but it doesn’t mean that they won’t try and do something about it themselves. Covering one eye is a very common sign that your child needs glasses and if you seem him/her doing this, it’s important to get an eye exam as soon as possible.
3. Closing One Eye
Just like covering one eye, this action could show that your child has discovered that he/she has better vision in one eye and poorer vision in the other. Whilst this could look like your child is just being silly, it could also mean that they need to wear glasses so it’s well worth the precaution.
4. Headaches or Dizziness
If your child complains of feeling dizzy or getting headaches, it could be related to his/her vision. Try and find out when these headaches/dizzy spells are happening and try and determine whether it’s related to sight.
All kids can be pretty clumsy during their early childhood years so it isn’t always easy to spot. But look out for anomalies; for instance, does your child seem comparatively clumsy when playing with other kids or does your child lose his/her balance and miss things when he goes to touch/hold/grab? If you have a child who is 10+ and entering into their early teens, they are more likely to speak to you about it but if they don’t, it could be worth speaking to their school, their friends’ parents, or anyone else who may be able to spot it.
6. Head Tilting
This is a natural thing to do when we are looking at something, studying something, or just thinking about something. It can also be a natural reaction when we can’t see something that well because head tilting is very much a sign of confusion; watch out for this kind of body language.
7. Not Performing at School
So many kids get into trouble for not listening to the teacher, not following instructions, daydreaming in class, or not getting their work done. But these aren’t just the traits of a naughty child; they can often be signs that your child is unable to see the blackboard / the front of the class so they lose interest or lose hope. Instead of explaining that they can’t see, they suffer in silence. Or some children are completely unaware of their sight problems and just believe that they are disinterested in what the teacher is showing them. If your child is getting poor school reports or you’ve had concerned teachers contacting you, please ask your child if he/see can see what’s happening in class and take them for an eye test.
8. Constant Daydreaming
Kids need stimulation and they need to be challenged, both at school / nursery and at home. Daydreaming happens with a lot of children – and at all ages – but if you think your child is doing it more than usual, it’s worth checking out their eyes. They could be losing interest in the world because they simply can’t see!
9. Struggling to Read Books
If your child holds their book close to their face, or if they are always losing their place whilst reading, these could be signs that he/she is struggling with their eyesight.
10. Rubbing Eyes
Straining your eyes causes eye fatigue and irritated/ dry eyes. So if your child is always rubbing their eyes (especially when watching TV, reading something or doing their homework), it could mean that they are struggling to see what’s in front of them.