Visual Disabilities: Signs of Concern

Baby with cataracts

Child care providers may have many opportunities to notice if a child is having trouble seeing.  Children who are having trouble with their vision may not  focus their eyes well, or may not look directly at people when talking to them. Sometimes child care providers may notice only a few signs of a vision problem; in other cases, they may see many different signs.

Signs that May Suggest a Visual Disability

The following signs may suggest that a child has a visual disability. Child care providers should pay attention when a child

  • Sometimes or always crosses one or both eyes
  • Has eyes that won’t focus
  • Avoids bright lights
  • Blinks or rubs the eyes a lot
  • Stumbles or falls a great deal, or trips over small objects
  • Covers one eye
  • Tilts his head to the side or to the front regularly
  • Squints or frowns a great deal
  • Complains of dizziness, headaches or nausea after doing intense work
  • Is unable to locate and pick up small objects that have been dropped
  • Turns his face away when being talked to, indicating that the child has better peripheral vision
  • Prefers contrasting colors or large pictures
  • Holds books or objects very close to his face
  • Has unintended spills or knocks things over frequently

Remember that young children’s vision develops very quickly. If there is a serious concern, it is best not to take a “wait and see” approach. If you notice any signs of concern, write down what you observe and share the concerns with the child’s family right away. Encourage parents to take the child to a doctor for a check-up. Getting professional help early for children can make a tremendous difference in quality of life and in their later development. The Tips for Child Care Providers to Communicate Concerns about Children’s Development with Parents article has suggestions on how to approach parents with your concerns.

For More Information

 For more information on supporting children with special needs in a child care program, check out the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care section on Child Care for Children with Special Needs, or take a look at the article Adapting the Child Care Environment for Children with Special Needs. To find specific ways to support children with visual disabilities in the child care environment, see Specific Ideas for Child Care Providers to Help Children with Visual Disabilities.