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Signs of Possible Eye Trouble in Children

If your child shows one or more of these signs, he or she should see an eye doctor without delay.

Appearance

  • Crossed or misaligned eyes
  • Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen eyelids
  • Inflamed or watery eyes
  • Recurring sties (infections) on eyelids
  • Presence of white pupil in color photo

Behavior

  • Rubs eyes excessively
  • Shuts or covers one eye
  • Tilts head or thrusts head forward
  • Has difficulty with reading or other close-up work; holds objects close to eyes
  • Blinks more than usual or is irritable when doing close-up work
  • Is unable to see distant things clearly
  • Squints eyelids together or frowns

Complaints

  • Eyes itch, burn or feel scratchy
  • Cannot see well
  • Dizziness, headaches or nausea following close-up work
  • Blurred or double vision

A professional eye examination for every child, including those who do not show any signs of eye trouble, is recommended shortly after birth, at 6 months of age, before entering school Cage 3 or 4], and periodically throughout the school years. Regular eye exams are important, since some eye problems have no signs or symptoms.

Children's Eye Problems

  • Amblyopia (Lazy Eye) An eye that does not see clearly, even with corrective lenses and even though it has no disease, is said to be "lazy" or amblyopic. Amblyopia occurs mainly among children who have a different amount of farsightedness or nearsightedness in one eye than in the other. Strabismus (see below) is another common cause of amblyopia.

  • Astigmatism Astigmatism results primarily from an irregular shape of the front surface of the cornea, the transparent "window" at the front of the eye. Persons with astigmatism typically see vertical lines clearer than horizontal ones, sometimes the reverse.

  • Color Vision Deficiency (Color Blindness) Children with so-called "color blindness" are not blind to color but have difficulty identifying certain colors.

  • Hypempia (Farsightedness) In this condition, the eyeball is too short for the normal focusing power of the eye. Therefore, images of near objects may appear blurred.

  • Myopia (Nearsightedness) In myopia, the eyeball is too long for the normal focusing power of the eye. As a result, images of distant objects appear blurred.

  • Strabismus (Squint) Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes that prevents them from looking at the same object together.

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