Does my child need glasses? How to prescreen your child’s eyes

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To see or not to see. That is the question…that most parents find themselves asking. How will you know if your child needs glasses? Will there be tell-tale signs like headaches or disruptive behavior?

Dealing with a child under the age of seven who doesn’t know how to tell you what’s wrong can put a lot of pressure on a parent. With this in mind, the onus is on you to do some checks and determine if a trip to the optometrist is needed.

Symptoms to look out for

Continually scratching their eyes

You notice that Tommy scratches his eyes a lot. If this sounds familiar, perhaps you need to monitor how often he scratches them. This is an early sign of eye strain or allergies.


No matter how you look at this symptom, it can’t be good. Headaches are a sign of blurred vision because your child is continually trying to get things into focus. However, a headache can also have other causes and should be looked at either way.

Sitting too close to something

“Tommy, don’t sit too close to the TV!” Sound familiar? If you notice your child holding a book or phone too close to their face, it’s quite possible that they are struggling to see what is in front of them. This needs to be addressed because the poor critter is struggling to see and may need glasses.

Disruptive behavior

This is something that needs to be addressed carefully because many factors cause disruptive behavior. However, you’ll need to play the elimination game with this one and check your child’s eyesight.


When your child looks at something, they’ll squint their eyes to try and get the item in focus. A sure sign that your child is struggling will be scrunching their face and squinting. Difficulty seeing something causes strain on their eyes and will need attention. Glasses will take the pressure off the eyes and your little one.

Quick eyesight home check

We have all had that “first child syndrome” where your child will sneeze once, and you treat it like it’s an emergency. It’s all systems go. You race to the pediatrician to find out what’s wrong.

This is an all too familiar scenario because we love our kids, and rightly so. They are too young to fend for themselves. Here is a quick eye test guide to see which direction the ambulance needs to be heading in.

Testing your child’s eyesight at home

You are going to need an eye chart. You can download one from here for free or purchase one online or at your nearest optometrist.

In an open area, stick the chart onto a wall and get your child to stand 10 feet from the chart. Engage parent-doctor mode and get them to cover one eye and read the letters to you. Do the same with the other eye.

The results work as follows:
On the test chart, the letters are in rows. The lower the rows that your child can see determines the visual acuity of each eye. The chart will show the results based on the line they can see up to. For example, row eight is 20/25 vision, whereas row five is 20/50 vision.

  • 20/40 vision of the line chart applies to children below the age of three
  • 20/30 vision of the line chart is for the 3-4-year olds
  • 20/20 vision of the line chart is for children five years old and up

Please note that if your child struggled during the test and didn’t meet the above vision guide, please schedule an appointment with your optometrist for professional analysis.

Now what?

Don’t beat yourself up. That chicken pie you ate when you breastfed Tommy did not cause his eyes to go wrong. Nor did the measles that his great, great, great grandfather had cause him to have genetically blurred vision.

Sometimes glasses are needed as a temporary means, and sometimes they are permanently required. With this in mind, remember that your child will now be able to see. No more scratchy eyes or disruptive behavior. You have done a great job. Now you need to find a solution to keep the glasses scratch-free, on their face, and intact at all times.

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