According to All About Vision, 80% of your child's school lessons are taught and learned visually. Children who are struggling with vision problems may not realize it, and their grades and self-esteem may suffer as a result.
During the summer months, children are especially active, and may be more susceptible to eye injury. Be proactive in protecting your child's eyesight!
Encourage a healthy diet
Our mothers always told us that eating carrots would help us see better, and they weren't wrong. But eyes, just as the rest of our bodies, benefit from a well-rounded diet of nutritious food including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish. According to WebMD, these foods contain vitamins C and E, zinc, omega-3, and lutein - all associated with good eye health.
Provide proper protection
Provide your child with sunglasses that have UV-coated lenses when spending time outdoors or riding in the car - especially on brighter days. Children's eyes are more sensitive to light than adults', and according to Eyecare Trust and Eye Kit, up to 70% more UV light reaches a child's retina than an adult's. This exposure can lead to eye problems. Children with lighter eye colors are at even higher risk.
During summer sports, provide children with protective athletic eyewear while playing to protect their eyes from damage that can occur from running into other players or being hit in the face with sports equipment.
Regulate screen time
While sitting too close the television won't damage eyes, it will put strain on them. Eyes blink less frequently when using the computer or watching for long periods, causing dryness and tiredness, and 3D movies or video games can cause eye weariness. In addition, computer vision syndrome can occur from repetitive stress of moving your eyes in the same manner repeatedly from a long time, much like carpal tunnel syndrome in the hands. Restrict your child's screen time to two hours a day or less, and make sure she sits at least three feet away from the television.
Use only age-appropriate toys
Don't allow small children to play with toys that are pointy or blunt. Anything from your keys to a child's spoon or a Barbie doll can pose a threat to your young child's eyes should she run and fall on it. Only allow your child to eat at the table with supervision and keep all toys belonging to older children, as well as items such as keys, pens, and pencils, out of reach of your toddler or preschooler.
Provide plenty of light for reading
Make sure that your child reads in a well-lit area. Having proper lighting will help protect her eyes from strain. In addition, encourage your child to take a break from reading should her eyes feel tired or stressed at all.
Schedule regular eye exams
While some doctors feel children should begin visiting the optometrist at 6 months of age, others feel that standard pediatric eye checks beginning at the two-year check up are enough. However, if your child was born prematurely or has diabetes, their vision may need to be checked more frequently by a specialist. Talk to your child's doctor about what's best for your child.
Know the signs and symptoms of vision problems
Children have a difficult time expressing if their eyes are bothering them. However, parents can keep a look out for certain signs and symptoms that may be the result of a vision problem. Check to make sure your baby's eyes are not crossed or turned out and that there isn't any haziness or clouding in her pupils. According to WebMD, looking sideways, runny eyes, eye pain, squinting, headaches after reading, slanting of the head, or a sudden drop in grades can all be signs of a problem. If you notice any of these, or have any other concerns about your child's eyesight, visit an eye care specialist.
Children with poor vision may not realize that what they see is any different from what you see. That's why it's important for parents to protect their children's eyes from infancy through adulthood with proper vision checks and protection.