8 Signs Your Child Needs Glasses

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, an estimated eighty percent of all learning during a child's first twelve years comes through their eyes. With the American Public Health Association’s finding that ten percent of preschoolers and twenty-five percent of children in grades K through 6 have vision challenges, it’s clear eye exams are a crucial part of a child’s well-being and academic success.

Kids don’t always let you know they’re having vision problems. They might not even know it themselves. So if you notice any of these 8 symptoms (whether your child already has glasses or not), it’s important to schedule an eye exam ASAP.

A boy and a girl wearing Fitz Frames glasses

Photo by: Sharon Suh

1. Squinting

Squinting creates temporary visual focus and clarity. This can indicate a refractive error, like astigmatism (blurry vision), hyperopia (farsightedness) or myopia (nearsightedness).  

2. Frequent Headaches

If your child complains of headaches on school days or after long periods of reading, this may be from eye fatigue as he strains his eyes to focus. Usually a symptom of astigmatism and farsightedness, frequent headaches may be accompanied by eye pain and disappear when the child is not reading.

3. Excessive Eye Rubbing

When a child is trying to clear her blurry vision, she may frequently rub her eyes. It can also indicate eye fatigue or allergic conjunctivitis.

4. Clumsiness

Amblyopia, more commonly known as “lazy eye,” is when the eyes and brain fail to work together correctly, leading to good vision in one eye and poor vision in the other. This imbalance in vision may lead to severe clumsiness.

5. Tilting Head or Covering One Eye

Blame amblyopia if your child is tilting her head or covering one eye to adjust her vision. When the eyes are misaligned, children overcompensate, using their “stronger” eye over their lazy one.

6. Sitting Too Close to Screens

Nearsighted kids find relief (and clarity) by bringing a blurry object closer to their faces. Sitting too close to the TV or bringing a tablet or phone right up to their noses may indicate nearsightedness.

7. Losing Place While Reading

If your child often loses his place while reading or uses his finger to guide his eyes, he may be struggling with double vision, difficulty focusing or improper eye movement.

8. Poor Academic Performance

At school, children need to quickly adapt their visual focus from near to far and back again— from chalkboards and computer screens to textbooks and tablets. If they are unable to adapt their focus well because of a vision deficiency, academic performance suffers. They may even try to compensate for this by asking to sit in the front of the room.  

Even if your kids don’t display any of these signs, it’s important to have your pediatrician administer an eye exam during their annual physicals.

Nick Anderson