Common Vision Problems in Children

Children’s vision helps them to experience and explore the world around them. It is a crucial part of their development. If children have an uncorrected vision problem, it can affect their ability to learn and reach their highest potential.

Vision does not fully develop when a baby is born. Only when children are 18 months to 4 years old do vision problems in kids tend to emerge, and they are hard to detect because children are not aware that their vision is compromised because they have been seeing it that way and that is all they have ever known.

Here are some common vision problems in children:

  1. Amblyopia (lazy eye)

This condition occurs when vision in one eye is reduced due to a communication error between the brain and the affected eyes.


The visual impairment from amblyopia can persist during adulthood if treatment has not been previously offered. This is because the brain has learned to ‘ignore’ or ‘suppress’ the images coming from the poorer eye. These deficits derive from the visual areas of the brain.


Treatment involves normalising the poorer eye (often with glasses and/or eye patching) and re-training the eyes and the brain to work in a normal way (often with orthoptic eye exercises, called vision therapy). The treatments are most successful for young children, but adults can also benefit from the vision therapy.


  1. Myopia (Shortsightedness)

Occurs when the eyes are unable to focus clearly on objects that are far away. The image falls ‘in front’ of the retina when one looks at a distant object. This does not usually affect close-up vision except in high myopia.


  1. Hyperopia (Longsightedness)

Occurs when the eyes are unable to focus clearly on objects that are close-up. It can also affect far-distance vision in some cases. The image falls ‘at the back’ of the retina when one looks at a near object, and it often makes it difficult for the eyes to focus.


  1. Astigmatism

This condition occurs when the cornea has an irregular shape. It often occurs together with myopia or hyperopia, and it can result in blurred vision. Even without myopia or hyperopia, the astigmatic eye will not be able to focus sharply, and one might complain about glare or visual discomfort, particularly in poor lighting. It is often associated with headaches, dizziness, and eyestrain.


  1. Strabismus (Crossed eyes)

Occurs when the two eyes turn in different directions. It can occur in a child or an adult. When one eye is aligned well, the other may turn in or out, up or down. This may be noticeable all the time, or it may be intermittent. It may be present soon after birth or appear at a later age. It may be due to a weak eye muscle or a nerve palsy. Some people get their eyes surgically realigned, while others may get ‘orthoptic’ eye exercises. The latter is also called vision therapy, and it often involves the use of prisms and a range of equipment to retrain the visual system.

Most of the time, vision problems are not obvious, making them hard to catch. The best way to catch the issues early is through vision screenings. Warning signs may include:

  1. Eye rubbing
  2. Tearing
  3. Swelling
  4. Redness
  5. Pus
  6. Crust
  7. Sensitivity to light
  8. Bulging or jiggly eyes
  9. Droopy eyelids
  10. White, yellow, or grey-white material in the pupil

If you notice any of these, or your child’s eyes are changing in any way, or you simply worry about their vision, do not wait longer; get that first vision test. It is always safe and better to catch when things are still in the early phase rather than the later phase.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keep an Eye on Your Child’s Vision.
  2. IGARD. Common Eye and Vision Problems in Children.
  3. WebMD. Signs of Vision Problems in Young Kids.