Can Your Child See and Hear Clearly? What to Watch For
February 24, 2019
Your child's eyes and ears are windows to the world. Untreated vision and hearing problems can get in the way of learning. But when problems are found early, the right treatment can help your child thrive.
"Hear and vision screenings are part of many wellness visits with your child's health care provider," says Shivani Joshi, MD, a UH Rainbow Babies & Children's pediatrician at University Premier Pediatricians. "If an issue is found, your child may need further testing by a specialist."
You play a key role in early detection, too. If you see any signs of a problem, do not delay. Tell your child's health care provider promptly.
Hearing and Ear Problems
Hearing loss can be due to problems with:
- The outer or middle part of the ear
- The inner part of the ear
- Both of the above
- The process of sending sound from the ear to the brain
What to watch for. "Babies and toddlers with hearing loss may not respond to sounds," Dr. Joshi says. "They may be late to talk and understand language. Older kids may have trouble making friends and doing their best in school."
The sooner a hearing problem is found, the better. Treatments and services can help children with hearing loss reach their full potential. If you have concerns about your child's hearing, find a pediatric audiologist near you.
Vision and Eye Problems
Vision problems in kids include:
- A "lazy eye" that does not work properly with the brain
- Nearsightedness, farsightedness and other focus problems
- "Crossed eyes" and other problems with how the eyes line up
What to watch for. "After 3 months old, babies should be able to follow an object with their eyes," Dr. Joshi says. "After 4 months old, their eyes should usually line up properly."
At any age, painful, itchy, red or watery eyes can also be signs of a problem. So can droopy or crusty eyelids. Many parents also may note eye changes or differences in their child's eyes in pictures, Dr. Joshi says.
Finding an eye problem early increases the chance for successful treatment. Options may include glasses, eye exercises or surgery. See a pediatric eye specialist if you have concerns about your child's vision.