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How to Tell If Your Child Needs Glasses


The American Optometric Association estimates that as much as “80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes.”

Eye ExamDr. Karen Taugher, a parent and optometrist, points out that children’s eyesight can seemingly change quickly and that children may not even realize that they have poor vision. These undetected vision problems can cause frustration in school when a child can’t see the board or focus on deskwork.

As your child heads back to school, Dr. Taugher recommends looking out for signs that your child may need glasses:

  • Squinting: the classic sign that a child is struggling to see near or far
  • Holding one eye: a child may cover one eye while reading or focusing on something in the distance, such as the television
  • Eye rubbing: eye strain may cause fatigue and you will notice your child rubbing his or her eyes after reading or doing homework
  • Headaches: frequent headaches in the frontal region or brow may be a result of squinting
  • Difficulty reading: a child who is a reader may have trouble keeping his or her place while reading

Other signs include:

  • Short attention span
  • Complete avoidance of reading
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Difficulty remembering what he or she read

Next steps

If you suspect that your child has problems with vision, schedule an eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The American Optometric Association recommends that children receive a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years, or more frequently if risk factors or specific problems exist. A child’s first eye exam should be conducted no later than 5 years of age. Eye issues can be treated and often corrected with early diagnosis.

Good vision contributes to success in school!

Contributing Writer

Image of Theresa WoolerTheresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team.

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  1. This is such a great topic! It can be especially difficult to recognize a vision problem in young children. Several years ago, I had a 3rd grade student in my class who didn’t show any of the usual signs of having difficulty seeing well. It wasn’t until we had a “Wear a Hat Day” at school, that I noticed anything unusual. She wore a cowboy hat that day, and I noticed that when she was working on something at her desk, I only saw the top of her hat. After sharing this observation with her parents, they took her to an opthamologist. She did, in fact, need glasses! Having an early age check-up before starting school is a great idea.

  2. Remember, acuity determines how clearly can you see numbers or letters at a specific distance and is only one part to a COMPREHENSIVE eye exam. A student may have additional eye problems that go undedected by just an acuity test. I like that this article mentioned the symptoms of potential eye problems that definitly impact a student learning to read. I am a reading specialist as well as a parent of a child with vision issues. Those difficulties impacted my daughter’s education dramatically. What I wish this article would have mentioned is that vision therapy may be necessary and that glasses may not be the only solution. My daughter completed 20 weeks of vision therapy and went from hating reading, lots of headaches, and average to below average grades, to always reading, fewer headaches, and above average grades. I truly wish schools would team with Opthalmologists to reduce the number of children with vision difficulties that directly impact learning to read. I believe we could narrow the gap of students that enter into special education. I am aware that vision issues are not the only indicator of special education needs, but as the author stated above, “As much as 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes” and “Good vision contributes to success in school”. Why not begin addressing the issue with the eyes first, then continue from there? So if your child is experiencing any of the above mentioned signs, ask your opthalmologist for more than just an acuity evaluation. Ask them for a developmental vision evaluation that will assess your child’s vision abilities. Determine exactly how vision is impacting your child’s education.

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