August is recognized nationally as "Child Eye Health and Safety Month". Although August is coming to a close, we thought we would leave you with some safety tips to protect your family’s vision all year long. In the comment section below, let us know how you plan to teach your children about eye health and safety.
- Have your child’s eyesight checked regularly! Although children generally have healthy eyes, your child’s pediatrician should check his or her vision periodically. Regular testing is necessary for early detection and intervention of any possible eye conditions. It is important to remember that your child may be experiencing vision problems even if they have no outward signs or symptoms.
Recognize the common signs of eye or vision problems! Become familiar with the most common signs of eye disease and vision loss. These may include the following:
- Falling behind in school
- Frequent headaches
- Sitting too close to the TV or computer
- Constant eye rubbing
- Difficulty following movement or tracking objects
- Discolored pupils
- Ongoing issues with eye redness
- Frequent tearing or watering of the eyes
- Complaints of stinging or burning eyes
If your child experiences any of these issues, do not wait until their next doctor appointment to address them. Schedule an appointment right away.
- Explain the importance of good lighting! Inadequate lighting, particularly while reading, leads to eye strain. Eye strain can lead to lasting damage and vision issues. Although you can provide good lighting at home, your children won’t always be under your supervision. Explain the importance of good lighting so that they use this tip outside the home.
- Skip the video games and get outside! Myopia, or nearsightedness, has recently been linked to a lack of time spent outdoors. Children who spend large amounts of time indoors, focus largely on “near work” (ex: writing, reading, video games). Professionals recommend that children spend at least ten hours a week outdoors. This is suggested to keep children healthy and help them to develop their ability to see things at a distance.
Being outdoors also stimulates the production of vitamin D and has been shown to reduce the risk of certain eye diseases. However, you should remember that extended periods of time in the sun may actually damage your eyes. Before going outside, remind your children to wear sunglasses to protect their vision and sunscreen to protect their skin.
Encourage a healthy diet! Proper nutrition will keep your child healthy. To promote healthy eyesight, incorporate the following foods into your child’s diet:
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, and butternut squash all contain beta-carotene which has been shown to slow the progression of macular degeneration and promote overall eye health.
- Citrus fruits, blueberries, cherries, and legumes all contain flavonoids which have been shown to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts all contain omega-3 fatty acids which may prevent macular degeneration and dry eyes.
- Many dairy products contain vitamin A which may prevent night blindness and dry eyes.
- Sweet peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and cantaloupe all contain vitamin C which may help in the prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Rather than focusing specifically on one food group, be sure to provide your child with a balanced diet. This will promote overall good health—including vision and eye health.
- Take preventative measures! Use protective goggles when participating in activities like yard work, cleaning, and sporting events. Lead by example so that your children understand the importance of eye protection.