World Book Day

How squinting or holding books close could be a sign of vision problems

A child reading a book

World Book Day falls in March, providing you with a great opportunity to revisit much-loved literary characters with your children. Because schools so often run World Book Day events too, it’s likely that even the most reluctant of readers will want to get involved in some way. No child wants to be left out, after all.

One thing that isn’t often mentioned, though, is that World Book Day can potentially highlight any problems that your child might be experiencing with their vision. This might be even more true if your child is usually more likely to be running around outside than sitting down quietly with a book. 

The visual perception and focus needed to concentrate on typed words for even short periods of time might not always be obvious, especially if your child isn’t often reading, but this day could very well highlight if there is an issue that needs addressing. 

Here are some things to look out for whilst your child is reading, that could suggest they need glasses.

  • They’re squinting
  • They’re holding the book very close to their face 
  • They’re complaining of having a headache 
  • They’ve told you they’ve got sore eyes 
  • They’re tilting their head 
  • They’re covering one eye whilst trying to focus on the page 
  • They’re rubbing their eyes a lot 
  • They’re complaining of words looking blurry

Of course, sitting very close to the television or holding a tablet very close to their face might highlight potential vision issues too. If you’ve noticed any of these things at other times, watch and see if the same thing happens when they’re holding a book. 

So, what should you do if you think your child might need glasses? 

The first thing to do is book them in for a sight test at a local optician. Sight tests in the UK are free for those under the age of 16. You can find out more about children’s sight tests via the AOP’s A B See campaign.

If you think your child needs glasses, it’s important that you take them for a sight test as soon as you possibly can. A child’s vision is continually developing, and some eye conditions have a limited window of time for treatment - so the earlier it is picked up, the better.    

Visit the For patients section for more advice. 

Photo pendingLucy Miller is a lifestyle journalist and OT's incoming Deputy Editor covering Emily McCormick's maternity leave. She will start the role in April