Q: My husband and I have both worn glasses for most of our lives. We now have a young daughter and are concerned that she too will need glasses. Aside from taking her to the eye doctor what are some of the signs for which we should watch?
A: It sounds like the genetic odds are in favor of your daughter needing glasses one day. Annual visits to the eye doctor are a great idea and so is watching for signs that your daughter may need some extra vision support.
You can not depend on children to let you know they have a vision need. Children may not even be aware that they have blurry vision, for example. They may not know any differently!
When assessing your daughter’s vision needs, pay attention to two major groups of signs: physical signs and accommodating signs.
Your daughter may give physical clues that she has a vision challenge.
- Headaches: Does your daughter complain about her head hurting at the end of the day or after a long period of concentration? If her eyes are struggling with blurry vision, then her head might truly hurt!
- Eye rubbing: Has your daughter developed what appears to be an eye rubbing habit? Young children often rub their eyes when they are tired- because their eyes are tired too! After working hard to focus visually, eyes are tired and may be soothed by rubbing.
- Clumsy (tripping): What may be written off as just being a bit clumsy, may actually be a sign of poor vision. It is difficult to avoid something if you can’t see it clearly!
Without anyone instructing them to do so, children naturally develop accommodations, which aid in their visual focus.
- Squinting/closing one eye: Does your daughter squint her eyes when trying to visually focus? This accommodation may actually help the eyes to focus, but it can be a sign that additional support is needed.
- Tilting head when visually concentrating: Just like squinting, the tilting of the head is an attempt to bring visual clarity. This accommodation can easily be excused as a quirky personality trait, but it actually may be a sign of a vision issue.
- Preferring to have face close to book, tv, monitor, etc: Does your daughter like to hold a book very close to her face? This may be because she can only see it when it is close!
Your daughter may beat the genetic odds and live her entire life never needing corrective lenses, but then again annual eye doctor visits and watching for challenged vision might not be a bad idea- just in case.