Children assume that the way they see the world is normal, so they rarely complain about their vision. That's why it's important to pay attention to the top 10 signs that a child may be having a hard time reading, seeing the board, and keeping up with their classmates.
Parents and teachers should keep an eye out for children who:
1. Have a short attention span for their age.
2. Perform below their ability level and struggle with reading, writing, or learning.
3. Lose their place while reading or need to use their finger as a guide.
4. Hold their head close to books or their desk while reading or writing.
5. Avoid or dislike tasks that require detailed work, like playing with Lego or drawing.
6. Experience frequent headaches, nausea, or dizziness.
7. Complain of burning, itching, or blurry eyes.
8. Excessively blink or rub their eyes.
9. Turn or tilt their head to use only one eye, or cover or close one eye.
10. Have eyes that move independently of each other, or eyes that cross or turn in and out.
While these behavioural and physical signs may indicate that your child is struggling to see, many children show no physical symptoms at all. The best way to know for sure is to take them to a doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye exam.
The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends that children have their first comprehensive eye exam between six and nine months, their second between the ages of two and five, and one every year after that. OHIP covers the cost of annual comprehensive eye exams for children until they turn 19.
During an eye exam, an optometrist will test not only how well the child can see, but also their overall health. An exam can reveal everything from vision impairments like nearsightedness and astigmatism to potentially serious health conditions such as diabetes and some cancers.