Symptoms of Vision Problems

Infants up to 1 year of age

If your baby can’t make steady eye contact by 2 or 3 months of age, or seems unable to see, you should consult your pediatrician. A constant crossing of the eyes or one eye that turns out is usually abnormal; however, most babies do occasionally cross their eyes during their first 6 months of life. Babies older than 3 months of age can usually follow or “track” an object with their eyes as it moves across their field of vision. You can test this by holding a colored object, like a toy or a ball, in front of your baby until he or she can see it. Then, slowly move the object and watch as your baby’s eyes follow. Be careful to avoid clues aided by voices or other sounds.

Preschool children

The presence of any of the following requires immediate consultation with your pediatrician or ophthalmologist. If the eyes become misaligned (strabismus), the child should be evaluated immediately. This may be a situation that is easily corrected with glasses or it may represent a more serious eye disorder. The presence of a white pupil suggests a number of eye disorders ranging from a cataract to a tumor of the eye. Immediate evaluation is indicated. The sudden development of pain and redness in one eye or both eyes can represent a number of different conditions ranging from simple pink eye to blinding eye problems. If this occurs, a simple visit to your pediatrician will generally result in the correct diagnosis and proper treatment.

Warning signs at any age

No matter how old your child is, if you spot any one of the following, consult your pediatrician:

  • Your child’s eyes flutter quickly from side-to-side or up-and-down (nystagmus).
  • The eyes are always watery.
  • The eyes are always sensitive to light.
  • Any change in the eyes from their usual appearance.
  • You see white, grayish-white, or yellow-colored material in the pupil.
  • There is redness in either eye that doesn’t go away in several days.
  • There is continued pus or crust in either eye.
  • The eyes look crossed, turn out, or don’t focus together (strabismus).
  • Your child often rubs the eye(s).
  • Your child often squints.
  • Your child often tilts (or turns) his or her head.
  • The eyelid(s) appears to droop.
  • The eye(s) appears to bulge.

© Copyright 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics