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Changes in vision

Many children will experience visual abnormalities such as abnormal eye movements and changes to their vision. Most of these are not caused by a brain tumour.

When might visual abnormalities be a sign of a brain tumour?

There are two main types of visual abnormality to look out for when looking for signs of a brain tumour in children:

  • Abnormal eye movements such as eyes looking like they are flicking, wobbly or quivering.
  • Changes to vision such as blurred or double vision or changes in eyesight.

Abnormal eye movements include eyes looking like they are flicking, wobbly or quivering. You should also look out for any change of appearance such as one eye bulging.

Changes to vision could be blurred or double vision and changes to eyesight.

Can a squint be a symptom of a childhood brain tumour?

A common visual abnormality is a squint. This where the eyes look in different directions. It is very rare for a squint to be caused by a brain tumour. If you notice that your child has a squint, this should be checked out by an eye specialist.

Vision problems in babies and young children

Babies and young children may show some changes in their behaviour which alert you to a problem with their vision.

This could include a reduced ability to focus on people or toys in front of them or struggling to follow moving objects with their eyes.

They may appear clumsy, stumbling and bumping into things.

Your child may start sitting closer to the television to be able to watch it.

They might become clingy in new situations.

A nursery or school teacher might tell you that they have noticed changes in your child during class, for example struggling to read.

If you are concerned about your child, you should make an appointment with a GP or optician.

I think I have a brain tumour, what should I do?

Brain tumours are rare, however, if you're worried and a symptom persists or if your child has more than one symptom of a brain tumour then:

  • Talk to your doctor
    GP appointments are usually quite short, so make sure you find out how to best prepare for your child's appointment.
  • Get an eye test
    If your child's symptoms are limited to changes in vision and/or headaches, get their eyes tested by an optician before seeing your GP.
  • Go to A&E
    If the symptoms are sudden or severe, you should go to your emergency department or call 999.

Should I speak to a doctor during the coronavirus pandemic?

We understand you may feel worried about seeking help from your GP during the coronavirus pandemic – but please don't delay speaking to a healthcare professional.

The NHS and your GP are still here for you and have made changes that make it easier to safely speak to a healthcare professional and get medical help if you need it.

It's more important than ever for you to prepare for your appointments by understanding what might happen during the appointment and what questions you want to ask.

Share your experiences and help create change

By taking part in our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys and sharing your experiences, you can help us improve treatment and care for everyone affected by a brain tumour.