Over the course of a child’s life, and into their teenage years, their eyes continue to develop along with the rest of their body. It’s important for parents to pay attention to their child’s vision, and be aware of symptoms that point towards vision problems. Early intervention can help prevent developmental issues from harming your child’s eyesight, or slow down the progress of issues which cannot be fully prevented.

So, let’s talk about some pediatric eye problems, and their symptoms.

Refractive Errors

The most common types of vision problem, in children and adults, are refractive problems which prevent the eye from properly focusing on objects. These are myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), as well as astigmatism.

Symptoms include:

  • Frequent squinting
  • Holding objects extremely close to read them, or at arm’s length
  • Sitting very close to screens
  • Frequent headaches during visually-intensive activities

In most cases, glasses or contact lenses will be the solution.

Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD)

BVD covers any situation where the two eyes are not working in unison, such as failing to point in the same direction at once. This can cause:

  • Frequent eye-strain headaches
  • Double-vision
  • Difficulty reading text
  • Light sensitivity
  • Frequent motion sickness

Kids with BVD also tend to show signs of stress and anxiety. BVD will need to be treated by a highly trained pediatric ophthalmologist.

Amblyopia (“Lazy Eye”)

Amblyopia means that one eye has significantly stronger vision than the other, often due to developmental issues. This causes the child’s brain to over-rely on the good eye, or potentially ignore information from the bad eye. They effectively only see out of one eye.

The symptoms can be similar to BVD. The biggest difference with amblyopia is that the child’s depth perception will be restricted, or missing entirely. So they will struggle with tasks which require binocular vision, such as catching a ball.

Treatment typically involves forcing the child to rely on their bad eye, to stimulate its development.


Nystagmus is one of the more serious childhood eye conditions, which causes their eyes to involuntarily move back-and-forth, or in a circular motion. This may be constant, or only happen periodically. The movement should be easy to see, if you watch your child’s eyes.

Unfortunately, nystagmus currently has no cure, although glasses can often help reduce symptoms. In rare cases, surgery on the eye muscles may be considered, but only when the condition is debilitating.

If you believe your child to have a vision problem, please do not wait. Contact Valley Eyecare Center to schedule an appointment!