Did you know that August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month?
The school year is right around the corner, which means that back-to-school
prep is in full swing—is eye health and safety on your checklist?
Each year as children grow, their eyes do too. Between screen time, reading,
writing, physical activity, and the occasional accidents, it’s important
to check your child’s vision before they go back to school.
Make sure your child’s eyes are healthy by learning how to spot and
prevent eye injuries, and maintain healthy eyes.
Signs of Eye Health Issues
Good vision and eye health are crucial to children’s learning and
Success in school is closely tied to eye health, which is why parents should pay close attention to their child’s
eye behavior. As your child’s vision continues to develop, it’s
important they have their eyes checked to detect issues that can be prevented
or corrected before they become more severe. Here are helpful ways to
spot eye health issues in children:
Short Attention Span - When children are involved in games, projects, or activities requiring
visual concentration, they might lose interest quickly due to the strain
on their eyes.
Trouble Reading - Children with eye issues may experience difficulty with reading, losing
their place while reading, holding the book too close to their face, or
a general lack of interest in reading.
Constant Squinting - Children squinting to see up close or at a distance can not only strain
their eyes but also cause persistent headaches and eventual frustration
with not being able to see well.
Using One Eye Over the Other - If a child is turning their head or using one eye to look at something,
this could be a sign that one eye is weaker than the other, or the eye has a
refractive error such as
If your child is experiencing any of these signs of eye health issues,
contact your eye doctor to schedule an eye exam.
Preventing Eye Injuries
Every year, thousands of children sustain an eye injury—90% of which can be prevented if suitable protective eyewear is used. Sports
and recreation, toys, and falls can cause an eye injury. Protect your
child’s eyes by following these steps:
Eye Protection in Sports - When playing sports or participating in physical activities, wearing
polycarbonate protective eyewear can prevent eye injuries from things like dirt, grass, sweat, or blood
contacting your child’s eyes.
Harmful Chemicals - Keep harmful chemicals and sprays out of reach of children. Many households
have chemical cleaners in reachable cabinets. Placing locks or childproofing
areas with harmful chemicals and sprays will help reduce the chance of
eye injury or other severe injuries.
Safe Use of Household Items - Teach and practice safe use of ordinary household items such as scissors,
paper clips, rubber bands, pencils, and wire coat hangers.
Prevent Use of Firearms - Do not allow children to play with BB guns, pellet guns, and other firearms.
These firearms are no longer considered toys or for use by children. If
you own firearms like these, ensure that they are lock-protected.
Proper Hygiene - Encourage your child to wash their hands after playing outside or anywhere
with dust to prevent them from rubbing foreign substances into their eyes.
Maintaining Healthy Eyes
Keeping your child’s eyes healthy and injury free means being proactive.
Help your child maintain healthy eyes by:
Scheduling regular eye exams and screenings
Your child should have an eye exam when they are first born to check their
reflexes, during infancy for an overall eye exam, during preschool age
for a vision and eye alignment exam, and during school age for visual
acuity, alignment, and overall health. As children continue to grow, it’s
important to continue regular eye exams to detect potential issues before
they become severe.
Providing a healthy diet
Foods such as carrots are rich in
beta-carotene, which is converted into
vitamin A to help with night vision and overall eye health, and to protect against
eye diseases and infections. Berries are packed with
vitamin C and antioxidants, which support healthy eye growth and light reactiveness. Nuts are high in
vitamin E, which support the body’s ability to absorb beta-carotene. Providing
a balanced and healthy diet of these foods will help to keep eye muscles
and tissue strong and healthy. If your child is allergic to any of the
foods listed here, please consult their doctor to find suitable alternatives.
Reducing Technology and Screen Time
A hotly debated topic right now is the amount of time children spend using
devices such as computers, tablets, and cell phones. An excessive amount
of screen time for young children can put them at risk for early
myopia (a refractive error that causes blurred vision to distant objects) and
computer vision syndrome (a collection of eye-related issues such as dry eye, blurred vision, light
sensitivity, and headaches).
To prevent these issues, have your children take 20- to 30-second breaks
for every 20 minutes they spend in front of a screen, make sure the desk
is adjusted to their body size or the screen is at least
18 to 28 inches away from their face, and prevent eye strain by matching the light of
the device screen to the light of the room.
First Aid For Young Eyes
When a serious injury to the eyes occurs, seek immediate medical help from
trained professionals such as an ophthalmologist, primary care doctor,
or a trained childcare professional. A quick response to an eye injury
will significantly reduce the chance of the injury becoming severe. While
seeking medical help, follow these tips to prevent further harm:
- DO NOT touch, rub, or apply pressure to the eye.
- DO NOT attempt to remove any object stuck in the eye. For small, non-serious
debris, gently lift the eyelid and ask the child to blink rapidly to see
if tears will flush out debris. If this does not work, close the eye and
wait for a medical professional.
- DO NOT apply ointment or medication to the eye.
- A cut or puncture wound should be gently covered.
- Only in the event of chemical exposure, flush eye with plenty of water.
- If the eye was struck or hit with force, DO NOT apply any pressure to the
eye and gently apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling.
If an injury to the eyes occurs, have an
ophthalmologist, primary care doctor, school nurse, or a children’s health professional
examine your child’s eyes as soon as possible.