According to the recent study, “Children’s Vision and Eye Health: A Snapshot of Current National Issues 2nd Edition,” vision has a critical role in children’s physical, cognitive, and social development, and visual functioning is a strong predictor of academic performance in school-age children. Without early detection and treatment, uncorrected vision disorders can impair child development, interfere with learning, and even lead to permanent vision loss.
Common vision problems in children include amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), and refractive errors, such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. Nearly three percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
A child who does the following may have possible eye and vision problems:
- Rubs eyes a lot
- Closes or covers one eye
- Tilts head or thrusts head forward
- Has trouble reading or doing other close-up work, or holds objects close to eyes to see
- Blinks more than usual or seems cranky when doing close-up work
- Says things are blurry or hard to see
- Squints eyes or frowns
Children with eye problems may also appear to have eyes that do not line up, (one eye appears crossed or looks out), eyelids that are red-rimmed, crusted or swollen, and/or eyes that are watery or red. However, a child may still have an eye problem even if he or she does not complain or has not shown any unusual signs.
Additionally, extended screen time among children has become a concern for many parents, caregivers and educators. Digital screens have become a common part of a child’s world, used for interactive play, reading, learning, and to socially connect. The daily time a child spends viewing a digital screen (including a cell phone, tablet, laptop, computer, TV, or gaming screen) can add up quickly.
Prevent Blindness, in coordination with Children’s Vision Massachusetts and School Health, has created a new web resource and free “Children’s Vision Digital Screen Tips” posters in English and Spanish, available for download at: https://preventblindness.org/childrens-screen-time-tips/.
The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness (NCCVEH) also provides a wide variety of free, informational resources about everything from baby’s developing sight, to school readiness, to recommended eye protection for sports and UV. Vision care financial assistance resources in English and Spanish may also be found at: http://preventblindness.org/vision-care-financial-assistance-information/.