Home        Site Map


Current research shows that about 20% of school-aged children have undetected vision problems which are hindering their school performance. Many of these children have passed their school's vision screening, which is only designed to check children's distance vision as measured by the 20/20 line on the eye chart. Unfortunately, school screenings don't check to see if children can coordinate both their eyes as a team, track print across a written page without losing their place, or comfortably adjust focus when looking from near to far away. Children can have 20/20 eyesight, meaning normal distance vision, and still have vision problems in other areas. 

Children who are struggling with undetected vision problems often fail to progress well in school. The following checklist shows common symptoms children with hidden vision problems can exhibit. The checklist is an excellent screening tool to evaluate if your child is at-risk for vision-based learning or attention problems. A score above 20 is a fail, and an exam with a pediatric optometrist is recommended.  The first step in helping your child is correctly identifying the problem!.

    Checklist of Common Symptoms 

How often does your child experience the following symptoms?

            Place a checkmark in the column that best describes your child.

How frequently does this happen?



A little




A  lot




 1. Headaches with reading or writing





 2. Words slide together or get blurry when reading





 3. Reads below grade level




 4. Loses place while reading






 5. Head tilt or closes an eye when reading





 6. Hard to copy from the board






 7. Doesn’t like reading or writing






 8. Leaves out small words when reading






 9. Hard to write in a straight line






10. Burning, itching, or watery eyes





11. Hard to understand what he/she has read





12. Holds book very close






13. Hard to pay attention when reading




14. Hard to finish assignments on time





15. Gives up easily (says “I can’t” before trying)






16. Bumps into things, knocks things over





17. Homework takes too long






18. Daydreams





19. In trouble for being off task at school






 Number of total marks in each column






 Multiply total marks in each column by:

   x 0 

     x 1

  x 2

  x 3

x 4

                          Score for each column






            Total Score for all columns _______________


This checklist is an excellent screening tool whose effectiveness in identifying at-risk children has been documented with research.* If your child's total score is more than 20, he or she has greater than an 80% chance of having a vision problem that is interfering with learning. The higher the score, the greater the probability.  Please see our web page on "Vision and Reading" for more information. The good news, however, is these children can be helped!  

Click here for a printable version of this checklist. Parents, teachers, and related professionals are encouraged to print and use this excellent screening tool.

*Northeastern State University College of Optometry


To locate a developmental optometrist in your area, you can contact the national certifying board at the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at 1-888-268-3770 or visit their web site at http://www.covd.org.  


Read the national PTA resolution calling for better school vision screenings to identify children at-risk for vision-based learning problems.



The Children's Vision Information Network was created to raise public awareness about potential vision problems in children.  This site is not intended as a substitute for a complete eye exam and professional advice from your family optometrist.  Parents, teachers, occupational therapists, psychologists, and related professionals have permission to copy and distribute information contained in the site for educational purposes only with the condition that each page is copied in its entirety with the URL included (www.ChildrensVision.com).  All publishing rights are reserved. Direct specific inquiries to Mary Barton, Director of Vision Therapy, at (316) 722-3740 or email VTDirector@ChildrensVision.com.