If your child has trouble seeing close things clearly, she might be long-sighted. Long-sightedness, or hyperopia, is one of the most common eyesight problems in children. You should take your child to your GP or an optometrist if you think she might be long-sighted.
Causes of long-sightedness
Long-sightedness happens when the eyeball is shorter than usual from front to back. This interferes with the way light is focused on the back of the eye and distorts the image that goes from the eye to the brain.
Long-sightedness is also called hyperopia.
Symptoms of long-sightedness
Depending on how old your child is, the symptoms of long-sightedness can vary.
If your child is younger, he might not say he can’t see well – young children often don’t realise they have poor vision. But you might notice that your child has red or tearful eyes, that he squints or blinks when looking at close things, or that he rubs his eyes a lot.
If your child is older, she might tell you that she can see things in the distance more easily than close things, or she might need to strain her eyes to see close things clearly. This means she might complain of sore eyes, headache or fatigue. She might not be interested in reading because of the eye strain it causes, and you might notice issues with her schoolwork.
Long-sighted children often also have a squint. This is when the eyes seem to be looking in different directions.
When to see a doctor about long-sightedness symptoms
You should see your GP or an optometrist if your child has any of the symptoms described above.
Most states and territories run free vision screening programs through your preschool or local child and family health service. These programs use special tests to check your child for vision problems at 3-4 years, before he starts school. Check with your child and family health nurse or preschool to see what’s offered in your state or territory.
If a screening test picks up a problem with your child’s vision, the people running the screening program will let you know what to do next.
Treatment for long-sightedness
Your doctor will send your child to an eye specialist or optometrist for tests. Your child might need glasses or contact lenses for close work such as reading and using the computer.