Eye Problems in Children: Signs to Look For


Parents are often the first to notice vision problems in a young child. A vision exam may be needed if your child:

  • Is clumsy (beyond normal toddler clumsiness) and fails to notice new things around them.
  • Squints when the light is not bright or scrunches up their face when trying to do a task.
  • Rubs their eyes when the child isn't tired. (Rubbing eyes when tired is normal.)
  • Squints when the light is turned on or stares at lights.
  • Has excessive tearing when not crying.
  • Has frequent eye infections, swollen eyelids, or frequent styes. Conjunctivitis (pinkeye) is a common problem in children.
  • Has eyes that seem to bulge, bounce, or dance in rapid regular movements.
  • Often tilts their head to one side as though trying to see better.
  • Often covers one eye or shuts one eye because they are uncomfortable. All children will sometimes cover or close an eye to experiment with their vision and see how the world looks with only one eye open.
  • Avoids tasks or play that requires good vision, like looking at books.
  • Holds books or toys too close or sits too close to the TV screen.
  • Has eyes that look mismatched or crossed or that don't move together.
  • Has pupils that aren't the same size or that appear white instead of black.

Related Information


Current as of: October 12, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine