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Should You Worry If Your Child Blinks Excessively?

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Although eyes normally blink 14 to 17 times in a minute, some kids have a habit of blinking their eyes excessively. Usually, it isn't something to worry about, as it doesn't necessarily signal a vision problem. However, if you notice squinting or other symptoms in addition to excessive blinking, schedule an appointment with an optometrist, such as Bergh-White Opticians, Inc. Your child may need an exam to rule out an eye problem or other medical condition that could be causing abnormal eye blinking.

Common causes when children blink their eyes more often than is normal:

  • Nearsightedness (Myopia). Children who have difficulty seeing objects at a distance often complain of symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, watery eyes, and excessive blinking. Treatment involves wearing corrective lenses.

    Heredity plays a role. Therefore, if you are nearsighted, your child is at increased risk for developing myopia.

  • Viral conjunctivitis (Pink eye). A common cause of excessive blinking in children, other symptoms of pink eye include sensitivity to light, redness, itchy eyes, pus discharge from the eye, and blurred vision. The infection is highly contagious but usually goes away on its own within a few weeks.

  • Allergies. Although red, itchy eyes are a common allergy symptom, allergies can increase the frequency of eye blinking. Encourage your child to wear sunglasses when going outdoors to protect the eyes from pollen and other irritants.

  • Dry eye. Kids who live in dry or windy climates can suffer from dry eyes. Symptoms include constant blinking, red eyes, and eyes that feel scratchy or burn. Your child's eye doctor may recommend over-the-counter eye drops to moisten and lubricate the eyes.

  • Blepharitis. A bacterial infection of the eyelids, blepharitis is an eye condition that affects children as well as adults. Symptoms may include excessive blinking, red and swollen eyes, dry and itching eyes, and blurry vision. Although the condition is chronic and doesn't go away, keeping the eyelids clean may be enough to ease your child's symptoms. In some cases, doctors prescribe a topical antibiotic or topical steroid.

  • Facial spasms (Tics). These involuntary movements are often present in the form of excessive eye blinking. Tics can be a side effect of certain medications. Anxiety also can cause frequent blinking.

  • Eye strain. Children who read a lot, watch television for several hours a day, or frequently play computer and other video games can suffer from eye strain. Symptoms of eye strain often include constant blinking, tired and red eyes, watery eyes, and blurred vision. Eye strain can also cause headaches. Make certain your child isn't working in dim light. Also, monitor how much time your child spends doing close activities each day.