September is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. As parents, it’s important not to overlook this aspect of our kids’ total well-being. Following are seven tips from The American Academy of Ophthalmology that can help to ensure that your children enjoy good vision.
1. More than 12 million children suffer from vision impairment. Vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school-aged children. That is why it is so important to protect your child’s eyes by having them screened for any vision problems during his or her regular pediatric appointments.
2. Early screenings can help control conditions such as Amblyopia (lazy eye), Strabismus (crossed eyes), Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid), Color deficiency (color blindness), Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism). These problems can damage your child’s vision if not caught early.
3. Some vision problems are easy to miss, so infants should be screened during their regular pediatric appointments and vision testing should be conducted for all children starting around the age of three. (However, if there is a family history of eye problems or your child appears to have a problem, speak to your Eye M.D. right away.)
4. Aside from vision threatening conditions, eye screenings for children are important because vision changes can occur without you or your child noticing them. If your child is having trouble seeing the blackboard or the words in a book, learning and participating in recreational activities will suffer.
5. Children should wear appropriate protective eyewear when participating in sports/recreational activities, since sports are the leading cause of eye injuries to children. (There are an estimated 42,000 sports-related eye injuries each year and the majority of them happen to children, so check with your Eye M.D. for information on protective eyewear for your child’s sport.)
6. It’s also important to make sure toys and games are appropriate for your child’s age and maturity level. A child’s eyes can be severely injured by toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts. Another note on the recreational side: do not use or allow children to use fireworks. Instead, take your family to a professional firework show.
7. One of the best ways to make sure your child keeps his or her good vision throughout life is to set a good personal example. A few examples: always wear protective eyewear when playing sports/recreational activities/doing yard work/ using harsh chemicals/working on the car/etc. Another great way to set a good health example is to be sure to have your own personal eye exams at recommended intervals. There’s no better way to show your child the importance of taking care of his or her body than by letting them see you take care of your body. Ben Franklin’s quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies. (In other words, it is better to try to avoid problems in the first place, rather than trying to fix them afterwards)
For more in-depth information on eye health and safety, please visit www.geteyesmart.org.