Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month is celebrated in August every year to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of young ones’ eyes.
According to statistics, one in 20 kids between the ages of three and five has a significant eye condition that, if left untreated, could cause permanent vision impairment. Despite this, worryingly, only one in five preschoolers receives regular eye examinations.
Healthy eyes are crucial for the development of children. But, as it’s not always possible for kids to recognise when their eyes are unhealthy, the responsibility falls upon adults to ensure young ones stay on top of their vision.
Here are some proactive ways to ensure your children’s eyes are in optimal form.
1. Boost visual engagement
Encourage your baby or toddler’s visual development through high-contrast colours and patterns in toys and decorations. When introducing your child to new environments, give them time to focus on the surroundings, and allow them to have a wider field of vision by approaching objects from different angles.
The same way a game of catch can aid your toddler or school-aged child, playing games such as “peekaboo” and “patty cake” with babies can help them develop better hand-eye coordination.
2. Supply a balanced diet
Nutrients such as zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C and E are excellent for eye health. Specifically:
- fruits that are high in vitamin C and E, such as mangoes, oranges, and strawberries, can support tissue repair and prevent infection;
- fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration and prevent dry eyes or cataracts;
- vitamin A-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale can help combat dry eyes as well as night blindness;
- eggs and nuts, both plant-based proteins, can help balance your child’s diet, which in turn could prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and hypertension, which have been linked to eye conditions.
3. Protect the peepers
Each year, mishaps at home, at play, or in the car cause thousands of kids to suffer from eye injury or even blindness. The use of appropriate protective eyewear can help prevent more than 90% of all such injuries.
It’s crucial for kids to know about eye-safety procedures and the importance of protective gear when participating in sports, recreation, and hazardous craft or home projects. Teach kids to put on eyewear with polycarbonate lenses made of shatterproof plastic, and always look out for dangerous equipment or terrain in indoor and outdoor areas.
Furthermore, the safe handling of everyday objects such as paperclips, pencils, scissors, cords, wire coat hangers, and rubber bands should be taught to children.
4. Limit screen time
Computers, tablets, and mobile phones are prevalent in kids’ lives more than ever. Encourage your child to adhere to the 20-20-20 rule, which states that they should look away from their screens once every 20 minutes, and move at least 20 feet (6m) away for 20 seconds. Keep screens 45-60cm away from your child’s eyes in general.
While blue light from digital gadgets is not harmful, studies show that prolonged close viewing can result in “digital eye strain”, a condition that could lead to impaired vision, dry and itchy eyes, and concentration problems.
5. Know the warning signs
Early indicators of vision problems include:
- lack of interest in faraway items;
- lack of interest in reading or seeing faraway items;
- eye rubbing;
- head tilting;
- light sensitivity;
- holding something very close to the eyes;
- poor hand-eye coordination.
6. Schedule routine checkups
Make an appointment with your ophthalmologist if you or your family paediatrician believe your child may have a visual problem. Your health professionals will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
If your child experiences an eye injury, seek the care of an ophthalmologist, physician, school nurse, or children’s health service as soon as possible.
Sometimes a significant injury might not be immediately clear. Delaying medical care could make the damage worse and increase the risk of blindness or permanent vision loss.
While waiting for medical attention:
- never touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye;
- never attempt to remove any foreign item from the eye;
- never put any lotion or medication to the eye;
- flush with lots of water if exposed to chemicals.
This article was written by DOC2US, a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere.