What is Preschool Vision?

Pre-school is a period of refinement of the neurological foundation skills acquired in the infant and toddler years, including the following necessary for school achievement:


  • •Gross and Fine Motor Movement
  • •Balance
  • •Body and Spatial Awareness
  • •Auditory and Visual Processing and Perception
  • •Rhythm and Timing

Most of children’s learning during the preschool years depends on observations of the world around them. A child assumes that what they see is what everyone else sees, since they can’t look through other people’s eyes to compare, and are not often aware that they have a vision problem. It is especially important for adults to recognize the red flags or signs of vision problems.

A visual skills evaluation or visual perceptual evaluation in preschoolers evaluates the following areas to ensure appropriate visual system functioning:

  • Eye Teaming Ability
  • Eye Tracking
  • Near Point Focus (Convergence)
  • Depth Perception
  • Near to Far Focus (Accommodation)
  • Visual Motor Integration
  • Visual Memory

Some children are more prone to risk factors in their vision development due to inherited traits, the environment, or nutritional factors.
Following are some indicators that a child may be at risk for vision problems:

  • Prenatal Care & Lifestyle Issues (drinking, smoking, drugs during pregnancy)
  • Pregnancy Complications (systemic infections, preeclampsia, anesthetics at birth, medications, toxemia, obstetrical trauma, hypoxia, etc.)
  • Family History of visual problems and/or learning disabilities
  • Malnutrition
  • Low Birth Weight or Premature Birth
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Postnatal factors (infections, metabolic disorders, chronic disease, environmental hazards, and hazardous medical events ie. head injury, abuse, seizures, etc.)
  • Lack of rich sensory-motor experiences due to our cultural increase of time spent in movement-restricted activities such as: car seats, playpens, activity saucers/walkers/bouncers, strollers, tight clothing and TV/computer viewing.

                                                                                   -Published by the American Optometric Association


Signs of Vision Problems in Toddlers, Ages 1-3


  • Holds books/toys too close or too far
  • Often closes or covers one eye
  • Clumsiness
  • Red eyes, crusty lids, milky colored or cloudy pupils (emergency)
  • Squinting when no bright lights or glare
  • Avoidance of books, puzzles and the like
  • Eye rubbing when not tired
  • Sitting too close to TV/computer
  • Tilting/turning head to one side
  • Eyes constantly moving back and forth
  • Tearing without crying


Signs of Vision Problems in Pre-school, Ages 3-5

  • Poor balance, clumsy and/or uncoordinated
  • Toe walking
  • Can’t balance on one leg for a few seconds or jump easily
  • Rhythm and timing difficulty
  • Can’t ride a tricycle
  • Eye rubbing and excessive blinking
  • Head turning to extreme angles to view targets
  • Object transfer between hands instead of crossing body
  • No preferred hand by age 4
  • Eyes constantly moving back and forth
  • Holds crayon in fist-like grip
  • Can’t draw a circle

Developmental delays can have a profound impact. Approximately 20% of school-age children may be affected to some degree by learning-related vision disorders. This percentage dramatically increases within the learning disabled, special education and remedial reading populations where as many as 70% have a significant visual component to their learning problems.

Success of Vision Therapy

If there are any developmental red flags, these can be indicative of later learning delays ahead. By improving the reception and processing of sensory information to allow for more mature patterns of response, developmental delays can be corrected with vision therapy. Regardless of age, visual inefficiencies due to immature development can be eliminated with intervention. A well prescribed  pair of glasses can be the solution needed in some cases.

Vision therapy can make a world of difference. The earlier children can see clearly or use a visual system that is working well, the better they will be able to learn and gain healthy self-esteem.


For More Information on Preschool vision, go to College of Optometrists in Vision Development


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