Sign up

A Real Eyeopener

How well can your child see? You may think it would be obvious, but that can actually be a very difficult question to answer. Without obvious signs such as squinting or sitting close to the TV, vision problems are easy to miss. It happens all the time. Vision problems often show up in unexpected ways. In fact, children who can’t see well are often misdiagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities. They often find it difficult to focus, and have to work so much harder to keep up with the other children - whether it’s in the classroom or on the soccer field. That can lead to fatigue, frustration and a short attention span.

Here are some of the signs to watch for

At school:

Struggles with reading, writing or learning

Performs below ability level

Loses place while reading or uses finger/marker to guide eyes

Places head close to books or desk while reading or writing

At home:

Has a short attention span for age

Dislikes or avoids close or detailed work (Lego, drawing, etc.)

Has poor eye-hand coordination

Physical indicators:

Has eyes that cross or turn in and out, or move independently of each other

Turns or tilts head to use only one eye; covers or closes one eye

Blinks or rubs eyes excessively

Suffers from headaches, nausea, dizziness

Complains of burning, itching or blurry eyes

Has double vision

The sooner a vision problem is detected, the more likely it can be treated and even reversed. That’s why it’s so important for your child to have regular eye exams with a doctor of optometry. Alberta optometrists recommend children have their first comprehensive eye exam between the ages of six and nine months, their second eye exam between the ages of two and five years and one eye exam every year after that.

During an eye exam, a doctor of optometry will look for: 

Visual acuity

Lazy eye, crossed eyes

Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism

Eye coordination, tracking and depth perception

Color vision

Eye health

Alberta Health Care covers the cost of annual eye exams for children until they turn 19. Kindergarten students are also eligible for a free pair of eyeglasses through Eye See…Eye Learn®. The program’s goal is to ensure all children are given the chance to reach their full learning potential.

Dr. Joanna Phillips is a Doctor of Optometry. For more information and to find a doctor of optometry, visit the Alberta Association of Optometrists’ website,




Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2024 Calgary’s Child