Healthy eyes and vision are a critical part of any child’s development. At this age, your preschooler is developing his hand-eye coordination and visual perception, which is necessary for reading and writing.
Everyday tasks such as building with blocks, coloring and playing ball all improve his visual abilities.
That’s why it’s important your child’s eyes get checked regularly to ensure his vision is developing normally. His vision now will guide other learning experiences that will give him a head start in school and throughout life.
The American Optometric Association recommends kids get a comprehensive eye exam at age 3 and again before they enter first grade, around age 6.
“Structural changes or medical issues can only be seen with a medical eye exam,” said Dr. Casandra Solis, an optometrist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “These things can be missed at a screening with your child’s pediatrician. Even the need for glasses can be missed.”
About 10% of preschoolers have eye or vision problems, according to the American Public Health Association. Common eye diseases and vision problems, such as amblyopia (“lazy eye”), strabismus (eye misalignment) and refractive errors (i.e. nearsightedness), often have better outcomes if caught early.
Dr. Solis suggests you keep an eye out for these 12 signs your preschooler may have vision problems.
- Constant eye rubbing or blinking
- Clumsy, difficulty with stairs
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Holding toys or books up close to his face
- Difficulty with hand-eye coordination while playing ball
- Frequent headaches from trying to focus so hard
- Extreme light sensitivity
- Poor visual tracking (following an object)
- Abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes
- Chronic redness or tearing of the eyes
- A white pupil instead of black
If you notice any of these symptoms in your preschooler, schedule an eye exam with an optometrist. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know his letters or can’t read. It’s not necessary for a complete exam.
“We play matching games with pictures and use charts with symbols, like an apple or house, instead of letters,” said Dr. Solis. “We can objectively find results without needing them to verbally cooperate with us.”