Common Preschool Vision Problems

Recent studies suggest that vision problems in preschool aged children are more common than previously thought. Prior to this new data, it was widely believed that one in 20 preschool children suffered from vision problems. However, evidence suggests that as many as one in four preschoolers experiences vision problems that need attention. Data also outlines a number of risk factors that may contribute to preschool vision problems, such as poor health insurance access and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Kids’ Vision Problems

To conduct the study, roughly 10,000 children between the ages of six months and six years were given comprehensive eye exams. The results found that a number of kids experienced what are referred to as refractive errors. In the past, it was believed that only moderate to severe refractive errors could increase the risk for significant vision issues. However, this data shows that even minor refractive errors can contribute to vision issues. This new information is critical, as refractive errors can typically be easily corrected with the use of eyeglasses.

The study found refractive errors, including:

  • Myopia, or nearsightedness, in roughly 4 percent of preschoolers
  • Hyperopia, or farsightedness, in roughly 21 percent of preschoolers
  • Astigmatism, or a curvature of the cornea, in 10 percent of preschoolers

Severe Vision Problems

Researchers also found more severe vision problems in a number of preschoolers. Two percent of the examined preschoolers experienced strabismus, or crossed eyes. Roughly five percent experienced amblyopia, or lazy eye. If these conditions are not treated in early childhood, affected children are more likely to experience permanent vision loss as they approach adulthood.

Preschool Vision Studies

This evidence was primarily extracted from two large studies conducted by private groups. The studies were published in the journal Ophthalmology and funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study results were also presented at the annual American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2011.

Kids’ Vision Problems Warning Signs

It is critical for parents, teachers, and other adults to be alert and watchful for potential kids’ vision problems. The sooner these issues are identified, the sooner they can be corrected. When this occurs earlier in life, children are significantly less likely to experience permanent eye damage and vision loss. It is also important to have regular vision screenings and examinations for children to identify any issues which may not present obvious warning signs.

Warning signs of preschool vision problems may include:

  • Holding books too close to the face when reading
  • Sitting too closely to the television
  • Tilting the head for better vision
  • Frequent eye rubbing, even when not tired
  • Heightened sensitivity to light
  • Frequent headaches or tired eyes
  • Excessive watery eyes and tearing