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Nutrition & General Wellness

Signs of Eye Problems in Children

Children’s eyes change rapidly. Eye problems can occur at any age. It is important to check your child’s eyes from time to time. Watch how your child acts. Listen to what he or she says. Below are some signs that your child may have an eye problem. Talk to your child’s doctor if you notice any of these signs.

Boy rubbing eye.

Physical Signs

Look for physical signs on or around your child’s eyes. There may be a problem if your child has:

  • One or both eyes that cross (look toward the center of the face)

  • One or both eyes that turn in, out, up, or down

  • Crusty, swollen, bloodshot, or red-rimmed eyes

  • Eyes that water a lot

  • Discharge, bleeding, or red bumps on the eyelids

  • A pupil that looks white instead of red in a color photo

  • A difference between the 2 eyes (for example, if 1 has a larger or smaller pupil)


Watch how your child acts. Some simple behaviors may be signs of an eye problem. These include:

  • Closing 1 eye to look at something

  • Turning or tilting the head to see

  • Squinting to see

  • Not seeing things you point out

  • Holding objects close to the face to see them

  • Sitting very close to the TV

  • Blinking or rubbing 1 or both eyes a lot

  • Running into objects

  • Falling down at night or in places that are not well lit


Listen to what your child says. Some comments can signal an eye problem. Children may have an eye problem if they say that:

  • They can’t see the chalkboard at school.

  • Things look blurry or funny.

  • Their eyes itch, burn, or feel scratchy.

  • They were hit in the eye.

  • They feel something in their eye.

  • They feel pain in or around 1 or both eyes.

  • Light makes their eyes hurt.

Headaches and Dyslexia

Headache (head pain) may not be caused by eye problems. And dyslexia (an inability to recognize letters and words) is usually not due to eye problems. But if your child has headaches or dyslexia, an eye exam can be done to rule out eye or vision concerns.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 11/23/2013
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