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Is it a vision problem? Know what to watch for during the start of a new school year
October 28, 2016

Is your child complaining that it’s too hard to read the board in class? Have you noticed your child having problems completing reading assignments or complaining of headaches when reading? It’s a great time to be aware of the signs of vision and eye problems, as these issues often become more apparent in the first months of the school year – especially during homework and study time. Our new pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Evan Silverstein shares tips on what to watch for and how to help.

Early treatment is important

If treated early, many vision and eye problems can be minimized, or even reversed. In addition to making sure children receive childhood vision screens at the pediatrician, parents should be aware of the signs of vision problems and what to do if they suspect an issue.

Signs of vision problems in school-age children

Here are a few signs of vision problems to watch out for as kids head back to school this fall:

  • Being unable to see objects at a distance
  • Having trouble reading the board
  • Squinting
  • Difficulty reading
  • Sitting too close to the TV

Complaints of double vision, eyestrain, or headaches when reading are also possible indicators that a child is experiencing vision issues. You may also see a child looking out the side of their eyes, shifting their head position from straight ahead when reading or concentrating, or closing one eye to see. A child’s teacher may also express concern that a child cannot see as well as they should. If a child is struggling in school, it can be helpful to ask the teacher if they think there may be any vision issues.

How to help

If a child displays signs of a vision problem, squints frequently, or experiences frequent headaches, an eye exam should be scheduled with an eye doctor. Early detection can lead to a better outcome and if prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses are needed, they can help improve a child’s learning, safety, and daily life in numerous ways.

If a screening or test shows an area of concern, the child may be referred to an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in diagnosing eye conditions and providing medical and surgical eye care. A child may also be referred to an optometrist, a health care professional who focuses on prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses and provides primary vision care, but does not perform surgery. An optician is a technician who specializes in fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses using prescriptions given by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Childhood vision screenings

Routine vision exams start with an eye exam for newborns conducted by a pediatrician or physician before a baby leaves the hospital. As children grow, their routine medical exams at the pediatrician include yearly eye-health screenings that include checking vision (in age-appropriate ways) and eye alignment. These screenings and exams are conducted by a child’s doctor as part of regularly scheduled medical checkups. Vision testing is also provided by schools and can be performed at the request of the family during any doctor’s visit.

Vision services at CHoR

Our eye specialists care for infants, children and adolescents with both common and complex eye disorders. Whether it’s a general eye exam, medical treatment or surgical procedure, our experts use the latest techniques to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions.

Meet our new eye doc

Dr. Evan Silverstein had eye problems as a child and was so inspired by his eye doctor, he decided to go into the profession to help kids. Watch the video below to learn more about Dr. Silverstein’s story and how to identify common vision problems.

The bulleted list of signs of vision problems was provided by KidsHealth®, one of the largest resources online for medically reviewed health information written for parents, kids and teens. ( For more articles like this, visit or ®1995-2016 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.

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