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Eye Problems in Children: Signs to Look For

Topic Overview

Parents are often the first to notice vision problems in a young child. A vision exam may be needed if your child:

  • Is clumsy (beyond normal toddler clumsiness) and fails to notice new things around him or her.
  • Squints when the light is not bright or scrunches up his or her face when trying to do a task.
  • Rubs his or her eyes when the child is not tired (rubbing eyes when tired is normal).
  • Squints when the light is turned on or stares at lights.
  • Has excessive tearing when not crying.
  • Has frequent eye infections, swollen eyelids, or frequent styes. Conjunctivitis (pinkeye) is a common problem in children.
  • Has eyes that seem to bulge, bounce, or dance in rapid regular movements.
  • Often tilts the head to one side as though trying to see better.
  • Often covers one eye or shuts one eye because he or she is uncomfortable. All children will sometimes cover or close an eye to experiment with their vision and see how the world looks with only one eye open.
  • Avoids tasks or play that requires good vision, like looking at books.
  • Holds books or toys too close or sits too close to the TV screen.
  • Has eyes that look mismatched or crossed or that don't move together.
  • Has pupils that are not the same size or that appear white instead of black.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised March 8, 2013

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