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Children’s Vision Awareness

Did You Know?

According to a National Survey of Children’s Health, more than 1 million children under age 17 have blindness or problems seeing even with the use of glasses.1,2 Nearly 1 in 5 are preschool-aged and between 3 and 5 years old.

Common conditions that can affect a child's vision include:

  • Amblyopia (“lazy eye”)
  • Strabismus (“crossed eyes”)
  • Refractive errors
    • Nearsightedness (“myopia”)
    • Farsightedness (“hyperopia”)
    • Astigmatism

Friends for Sight reminds you to include an eye examination as a critical part of your back-to-school check list!

Children’s Vision

Vision has a critical role in children’s physical, cognitive, and social development, and can affect academic performance, ability to participate in athletics and other activities, and self-esteem. Over 90% of vision disorders among children in the U.S. are either preventable or treatable.1 Early detection is critical because uncorrected vision disorders can impair child development, interfere with learning, and even lead to permanent vision loss. Untreated visual disorders in children can also their affect health and well-being, and future potential, throughout adult years.1,2  

What Is Amblyopia?

Sometimes called “lazy eye”, amblyopia occurs in 2% to 4% of children between the ages of 6 months to 6 years and is the most common cause of vision loss in this age group. It usually affects only one eye, but visual impairment can occur in the other eye later in life. Early detection is important because treatment is most effective when started before age 7.1,2


Sometimes called “crossed-eyes”, strabismus occurs when the eyes are misaligned, meaning the eyes are oriented in different directions (e.g., eye turns inward, outward, upward, or downward).1 The eyes do not work together when looking at something. In addition to vision loss, the child’s appearance can influence their social relationships and their self-image.1,2  

What To Look For

Common signs of vision problems include frequently rubbing eyes, squinting, tilting or turning head to look at objects, wandering eyes, sensitivity to light, or squeezing eyes.

What Are Refractive Errors?

Refractive errors are the most frequent vision problems in children. There are three types, but in all three the common factor is that light does not focus on the retina correctly and causes blurred vision. The prevalence of these varies with age, race and ethnicity.

Myopia (“nearsightedness”)

Myopia happens when the eyeball is too long for light rays to focus correctly on the retina. Objects in the distance appear blurry. About 9% of children ages 5 to 17 have myopia.1,2 Recent studies report spending time outside, especially in early childhood, can slow progression of myopia.3   

Hyperopia (“farsightedness”)

Hyperopia happens when the eyeball is too short for light rays to focus correctly on the retina. Close objects, like words on a page, appear blurry. Hyperopia affects 13% of children ages 5 to 17.1,2


Astigmatism happens because the front surface of the cornea has an irregular shape, causing light rays to scatter across the retina. Both close and distant objects can be blurry. Astigmatism affects 13% of children ages 5 to 17.1,2

What to do

According to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health 30% of children in the U.S. do not get vision screening or eye examinations. We can keep our children healthy making sure they get annual wellness check-ups and eye examinations.

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