Signs and risk factors of possible vision problems

Unusual appearance of the eyes:

  • Drooping eyelid that covers the pupil
  • Abnormal eye shape or structure
  • Absence of a clear, dark pupil
  • Persistent redness in the conjunctiva
  • Persistent tearing without crying
  • Jerky or unusual eye movements
  • A sustained eye turn after the infant is four to six months old
  • Unusual sensitivity to light, which causes squinting or closing of the eyes

Atypical visual behaviors:

  • Bringing objects very close to the eyes to see
  • Lack of visual alertness or interest in looking at people and objects
  • Holding the head in an unusual position when looking at an object
  • Appearing to look beside, under, or above the object of interest
  • Lack of eye contact, visual fixation, or tracking by three months of age
  • Not accurately reaching for objects by six months old, even if physically able to
  • Persistent rubbing of the eyes

Prenatal and other risk factors:

  • Family history of hereditary vision loss
  • Prenatal exposure to diseases such as toxoplasmosis, syphilis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes, HIV, or chickenpox
  • Premature birth, lack of oxygen during birth, or abnormal brain development
  • Head trauma, cerebral palsy, bacterial meningitis, neurofibromatosis, Tay Sachs or a syndrome such as CHARGE, cri-du-chat, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol, Goldenhar, Hurler, Lowe, Marfan, Norrie, Trisomy 13, or Usher

It’s important to know that any interruption in a child’s visual system, either from the eyes or brain, can leave a child visually impaired. When vision is impaired, learning can be delayed. That’s why early intervention is needed. If your child has any of the signs or risk factors listed above, see a professional. This might include a pediatrician, pediatric neurologist, pediatric ophthalmologist, or other vision specialist.

Here’s information that may help you understand the differences between these professionals:.

  • A pediatrician is a child’s primary care provider; this doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialists based on symptoms or risk factors your child has
  • A pediatric neurologist can diagnose vision issues directly related to the brain, mainly Cortical Cerebral Vision Impairment (CVI)
  • A pediatric ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases in children
  • Other vision specialists