Parents, have you been noticing your child struggling in school these past weeks, but you can’t point to a reason why?

It could be that your child is having trouble with their vision.

Cook County Health ophthalmologist Dr. Ramez Haddadin notes that there are more subtle signs of vision problems than just the tell-tale ones you’re probably aware of, such as a child squinting or holding objects very close to their face.

Subtle signs include your child:

  • Quickly losing interest in an activity or not wanting to do it at all  

Any child would have a short attention span if an activity wasn’t engaging enough.  But if you find that no game, activity, or project seems to keep your child’s attention for long, that may be a signal they’re having trouble visually, said Dr. Haddadin, who works at CCH’ Provident Hospital and John H. Stroger, Jr Hospital.  “A short attention span can be one of the first indications of a child having problems using their eyes for any long period of time,” he said.  Similarly, if your child avoids doing activities that require long stretches of focusing on an object, like reading a book or playing video games, this could also be an indication of vision problems.

  • Rotating their head to the side

If your child’s eyes aren’t properly aligned with each other, it can cause him to see two images of the same object in front of him.  This eye misalignment is called strabismus.  To avoid that problem, you may see him turning his head, so that his eyes are lined up the way they should be.

  • Skipping words or whole sentences while reading

When your child can’t see well, it’s easy for him to constantly lose his place while he’s reading.  This can result in a lot of skipped over words or sentences.  “Any visual difficulty like that should be a red flag for parents,” Dr. Haddadin said.

“Having the appropriate vision is not just important for success in schools,” he added.  “But there’s also a difference with kids.  If you don’t wear the right glasses when you’re young, you may never have that visual potential that you would have had for the rest of your life.”

So, Dr. Haddadin said, “Even if your child doesn’t have any of those issues, he or she should still be getting regular vision screenings.  And if there’s any concern, they should be seen in an eye clinic.”