The month of August is dedicated to children’s eye health and safety. 1 in 4 kids has a vision problem. Protecting your child’s eyes from physical harm and early detection for other eye health issues is key to keeping your kids’ eyes in tip-top shape!
One of the most important things you can do for your child’s vision and eye health is to be proactive in protecting the eyes.
Kids play outside a lot. But only 5 percent of American parents ensure their children wear sunglasses every time they are outside. Because kids’ eyes are still developing, they are at greater risk for UV-related vision damage and eye health issues later in life without consistent UV eye protection. Getting your kids to wear sunglasses can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to improve your chances of getting to keep their shades on:
- Let your child pick out a pair of sunglasses in their favorite color or with their favorite character on them.
- Get glasses with polarized lenses to cut down on glare. The glare may make it difficult for your child to see well with sunglasses on, and polarized lenses will eliminate glare.
- Make sure the sunglasses fit your child well. Make sure they sit comfortably on their nose and don’t squeeze their head too tightly.
- Get clip-on sunglasses for children who wear regular eyeglasses.
- Ensure sunglasses are UVA/UVB protective.
According to the National Eye Institute, sports-related eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in school-aged children. Most sports leagues do not require children to wear sufficient eye protection. Therefore, it is up to the parents to ensure proper eye protection is part of their child’s sports uniform.
- Never allow your child to wear their regular eyeglasses while playing sports. They can shatter upon impact causing the glass to impact the eye.
- If your child wears prescription eyeglasses, ask their eye doctor to fit them for prescription protective sports eyewear.
- Check the packaging to see if the eye protection has been tested for specifically for use during sports.
- Sports eye protection should be made out of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate eyewear is the most impact resistant.
- Ensure the protective eyewear fits your child properly.
- Get eye protection that blocks harmful UV rays for outdoor sports.
Our kids are growing up in a digital age and it’s nearly impossible to avoid screens. While you don’t have to restrict screen time altogether, it’s important to teach your children good habits at a young age to foster eye health into adulthood.
- Set screen time limits to give your kids’ eyes a break.
- Avoid using electronic devices outside as the bright light can cause a glare on the screen resulting in even more eyestrain.
- Remind your child to look up every 20 minutes or so and allow the eyes to refocus on a point in the distance for at least 20 seconds.
- Use good posture when using a computer or electronic device.
- Make sure the brightness is adjusted to a level that is comfortable for you as the parent.
- Remind your child to blink when watching something on a screen.
- Teach your children to hold devices 18-24 inches from their face.
David Epley, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology says, “I prefer to teach kids better habits, instead of supplying them a crutch like reading glasses to enable them to consume even more media. If you run too far and your legs start hurting, you stop. Likewise, if you’ve been reading too long or watching videos too long, and your eyes start hurting, you should stop.”
Regular Eye Exams
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend that children have their eyes checked by their pediatrician at the following ages:
Newborn- All infants should have their eyes checked for things like infections, defects, cataracts, or glaucoma before going home from the hospital.
From 6 months- During well-child visits, eye health, vision development, and alignment of the eyes should be checked.
Beginning at 1 to 2 years- Photo screening devices can be used to start detecting potential eyes problems.
From 3 to 4 years- Eyes and vision should be checked for any irregularities that may cause eye development problems later on.
5 years and older- Vision in each eye should be checked separately every year. If a problem is found during routine eye exams, your child’s pediatrician may have your child see a pediatric ophthalmologist. A pediatric ophthalmologist is a doctor specifically trained and experienced with children’s eye problems.