Signs that suggest vision problems in children

Portrait of boy working on team project in art class

By Dr. Aleem Bandali, Doctor of Optometry

October is Children’s Vision Month, an opportunity to remind parents to get their children’s eyes checked. Vision problems don’t always have obvious symptoms, and they go undetected all the time, which can lead to serious complications down the road. In fact, approximately 60% of children with literacy issues have an undiagnosed or untreated vision problem.

The only way to know how well your child sees, is take them for a comprehensive eye exam with a doctor of optometry. However, there are some unexpected signs that you can watch for:


At school:

  • Struggles with reading, writing or learning
  • Performs below ability level
  • Loses place while reading or uses finger/marker to guide eyes
  • Places head close to books or desk while reading or writing


At home:

  • Has a short attention span for age
  • Dislikes or avoids close or detailed work (LEGO, drawing, etc.)
  • Has poor eye-hand coordination


Physical indicators:

  • Has eyes that cross or turn in and out, or move independently of each other
  • Turns or tilts head to use only one eye; covers or closes one eye
  • Blinks or rubs eyes excessively
  • Suffers from headaches, nausea, dizziness
  • Complains of burning, itching or blurry eyes
  • Has double vision


The sooner a vision problem is detected, the more likely it can be treated and even reversed. Alberta optometrists recommend children have their first comprehensive eye exam between the ages of six and nine months, their second between the ages of two and five and one every year after that. Alberta Health Care covers the cost of annual eye exams for children until they turn 19.

Learn more, and find a doctor of optometry at


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