Just like adults in your family, babies and children can have problems with their vision. The good news is that most of these problems can be treated.
Paying close attention to your child’s eyesight is the first step. The second step is to schedule vision screenings and eye exams.
A vision screening is:
- A basic test.
- Often provided by school nurses, family doctors, or other healthcare professionals.
- Able to find signs of eye or vision problems.
- Is not used to diagnose the exact problem.
An eye exam is:
- More thorough than a screening.
- Done by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
- Used to diagnose the eye or vision problem.
- Needed to decide on the best treatment.
What Are Common Vision Problems for Children?
Your child might have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye, or crossed eyes.
Nearsightedness means a person can see objects that are near them, but objects in the distance are blurry. A child who is nearsighted might have trouble reading the blackboard at school.
Farsightedness means a person can see objects in the distance clearly. However, they might have trouble reading a book.
Astigmatism is a common condition for infants and young children caused by a slight problem with their eye’s shape. A child with astigmatism can have blurry vision with both near and far objects.
Lazy eye means that one eye has weaker vision than the other. The weaker—or “lazy”— eye often wanders inward or outward.
Crossed eyes means the child’s eyes do not line up with one another. One eye will turn in a direction that is different from the other eye.
What Are Symptoms of Vision Problems?
As your child grows from infancy to school age, watch for signs that they are having trouble seeing, reading, or focusing.
If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms, call your child’s doctor.
Babies up to 1 year of age:
- Unable to make steady eye contact.
- Unable to follow moving objects with their eyes.
- Eyes that look crossed after 4 months of age.
Preschool and older:
- Eyes that look crossed.
- Lazy eye.
- White or gray spot in the pupil (black circle in middle of eye).
- Rapid eye movement.
- Eye pain, itchiness, or discomfort.
- Redness or discharge.
- Excessive tearing.
- Drooping eyelids.
- Sensitivity to light.
Protecting Your Child's Vision
Many eye or vision problems can be corrected with eyeglasses, temporary eye patches, eye drops, or other treatments. Sometimes, the best cure is prevention.
For healthy, strong eyes, encourage your child to:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Limit time in front of screens.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Wear sunglasses, swimming goggles, and other protective eyewear.
- Not use sharp or pointed objects, like knives and scissors.
- Stay away from chemicals like household cleaners and bug spray.
Last but not least: Be sure to schedule regular eye exams.
Use Your Parkland Vision Benefits
Parkland Community Health Plan partners with Avēsis to provide services like eye exams and glasses.
Find an eye doctor near you:
You do not need a referral from your primary care provider to see an eye doctor.
Parkland HEALTHfirst and KIDSfirst members age 20 or younger can get an eye exam and glasses every 12 months.
HEALTHfirst members age 21 and over can get an eye exam every 24 months.
Get Extra Benefits and Paid Rewards for Vision Care
- HEALTHfirstand KIDSfirst members can get $100 every 2 years toward new frames.
Learn more about extra benefits and paid rewards here.
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