How can I detect vision problems?

Q: My child has a hard time hitting a softball, and it really upsets her. Could she have a vision problem?

A: Some kids are simply more athletic than others, but if your child's practicing and trying with zero improvement, you may want to have her eyes checked. Even children who see clearly without glasses can appear clumsy at sports because of other vision problems. For instance, there may be an undetected problem with your child's dynamic visual acuity (seeing clearly when moving around), peripheral vision (seeing out of the corners of the eyes), depth perception (judging the distance between oneself and a given object), visual tracking (following a moving object), or eye-hand-foot-body coordination. Among the telltale signs of a vision problem on the playing field:

• Playing inconsistently• Playing only certain parts of the game really well• Being unable to handle more than one activity at a time (like running to catch a ball)• Discomfort during or after a game that's unrelated to the muscles used• Playing well only when standing still or well-balanced

Take your child to a doctor for a thorough eye exam (it's a good idea to do this routinely anyway) and discuss the problems she's having with sports. Sometimes wearing an eye patch for a while or a pair of corrective glasses may be all that's needed to turn your kid into a softball star.

Copyright © Child.com. Updated 2009

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