EEyesight problems developed prior to the age of 7 are likely to result in poor

vision long term. Early detection of problems can help reduce the risk of

issues faced such as amblyopia (lazy eye)

Detecting potential eyesight problems in under 7s is crucial to prevent long term damage.

Known as the ‘plastic period’, the first 7 years of a child’s life are formative when it comes to eye development. If a child has not had poor eyesight corrected in these early years, the brain loses the ability to recognise clear vision, meaning that they are more likely to suffer with poor eyesight throughout their lives, despite glasses correction.

Senior Optometrist, from ICON Opticians, Ruth Evans says, “Children under 7 rarely complain about their eyesight. Young children find it difficult to detect and communicate what normal looks like – after all, if they’ve lived with blurry vision their whole lives, they’re unlikely to be able to identify a problem”.

Of course, this makes it extremely difficult for parents – if your child isn’t complaining about their eyesight, how will you know whether they’re struggling with it or not? Here, Ruth offers parents top 5 signs on how to detect eye problems in children. 

How to detect the signs in children

Thankfully, there are some universal signs to look out for at home (or to ask their school teacher about) which may indicate that your child’s eyesight is under-developing:

  1. Excessive blinking and squinting – if you notice your child is blinking a lot or frowning whenever they’re studying something closely, this may be a sign of blurred vision.Peering closely at books and screens – easily one of the most detectable signs of long and short-sightedness is sitting too close to screens or holding books very close to their face. If you observe these behaviours we suggest making an eye test appointment for your child to for a thorough vision and eye health assessment.
  • Head turn/tilt and eye turn– If you notice that your child regularly adopts an unusual head posture, such as a tilt or turn, this could indicate a dominance or weakness in one or both eyes. In some cases an unusual head posture can be a compensatory behaviour to reduce symptoms of double vision. Equally, if you notice that either or both or your child’s eyes excessively point ‘in OR out’ and do not look straight and aligned, this can be a sign of a squint/strabismus or lazy eye. Importantly, misalignment of the eyes may be irregular and intermittent, so even if you only notice this abnormality occasionally, it is still extremely important to bring your child in for a full optometrists assessment. Top tip: if you have any current or od photographs of your child where their eyes do not appear straight, bring them in to the eye examination.  
  • Clumsiness – Does your child regularly fall over or bump into things? This could be an issue with depth-perception – one of the most common symptoms of having underdeveloped vision in one eye.
  • A reluctance to read – if a child is struggling to focus on small objects, they may be reluctant to read. Rather than this being a sign of an inability to recognise letters and words and understand them, it could be that they are simply unable to see them correctly.
  • Regular headaches – if a child regularly complains that their head is hurting, this could be due to the fact that they are unconsciously straining their eyes on a regular basis.

Whatever symptoms your child is presenting, ICON’s highly trained opticians can accurately detect any potential problems and ensure the best plan of action to take.