Vision Problems

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Vision problems in children fall under two categories:

  • Those resulting from refractive errors
  • Those resulting from eye diseases


There are many different possible causes of vision problems in children.

In children whose vision problems are caused by refractive errors, the shape or positioning of the eye does not properly refract light entering the eye. This means that light does not focus on the retina of the eye as it should, resulting in blurred vision. Misaligned eyes or poor coordination between the child’s eyes and brain may also result in poor vision.

Conditions resulting from refractive errors include:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Strabismus (misaligned eyes)

In children whose vision problems are not a result of refractive errors, potential causes of vision problems may include abnormal pressure within the eye, eye trauma, diabetes, cancer or other causes.

Eye diseases that cause vision problems include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Retinopathy of prematurity

Symptoms of Vision Problems

Symptoms vary, but may include:

  • Inability to see things either far away or up close
  • Difficulty reading
  • Eye strain
  • Squinting
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to judge distance properly when reaching for an object
  • Misalignment of the eyes
  • Excessive tears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Enlarged or uneven pupils
  • Cloudiness within the eye
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Pain, redness or swelling around the eye

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA

At UVA, a child eye health care provider will examine your child to determine the condition, causes and treatment options. In addition, they may partner with providers in other specialties if appropriate.

Treatment for vision problems depends on the cause of the condition and how severe the condition is. Treatment may include:

  • Corrective lenses
  • Eye exercises and training
  • Surgery
  • Medications