Warning signs your child has a vision problem

26. February 2016

If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 6, be aware of these warning signs of possible vision problems:

  • Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
  • Squinting
  • Tilting the head to see better
  • Frequently rubbing eyes, even when not sleepy
  • Shielding eyes or other signs of sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing and watery eyes
  • Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better
  • Avoiding activities that require near vision, such as coloring or reading, or distance vision, such as playing ball or tag
  • Complaining of headaches or tired eyes.


The most common preschool vision problems are refractive errors. Farsightedness is very common in young children. Excessive farsightedness can lead to strabismus (crossed eyes). If strabismus is due solely to uncorrected farsightedness, wearing properly prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses often can straighten the eyes. Untreated strabismus can lead to amblyopia. If not treated, eventually the amblyopic eye "shuts off" and vision may be permanently lost.

Nearsightedness, also called myopia, is another common preschool vision problem. Myopia makes it difficult for children to clearly see the chalkboard and other distant objects. Astigmatism often causes blurred or distorted vision at all distances. Like nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism usually can be corrected completely with glasses or contact lenses.

Even if your child exhibits no symptoms of a refractive error or other preschool vision problems, he should have an eye exam by the age of 6 months and again at age 3. Having a complete eye exam before your child enters school allows enough time to catch and correct any vision problems that may interfere with learning.