Your child's doctor says their eyesight is fine and you breathe a sigh of relief. Nothing to worry about now, right? Well, a clean bill of health isn't a free pass to ignoring their eyes forever. By being aware and staying on top of things, you can help to avoid issues that could crop up while also taking the opportunity to learn about eye safety and to pass this knowledge on to your child.
Teach Your Kids About Eye Safety
Let's Talk about Things to Be Aware Of
Early Symptoms to Look Out For
Keep an eye out for symptoms that make be warning signs for the future, such as a child who often is seen rubbing of eyes, has shown a lack of hand-eye coordination or has a basic lack of concentration. If your child experiences constant headaches or you notice a haze or cloud over the pupil. These are all items to bring up with their doctor on their next visit or to talk with an eye care professional about. Catching things early is the best way to stop them from turning into a problem down the road.
A Healthy Diet Means Healthy Eyes
Get them to eat leafy, green vegetables (collard greens, kale, spinach), as well as other vegetables and fruits, to help keep their eyes healthy. Also fish like halibut, tuna or salmon have been shown to be good for eye health. I know, this is all easier said than done. But if you are constantly taking these items in with your own meals and offer them as the only alternatives at snack time, then your child will slowly take them in as their snacks of choice. Make these healthy alternatives always available and your child will get used to eating - and enjoying - them.
Block and Protect Rays From the Sun
Give them protection from the harsh sun. Everyone should protect their eyes from the sun and UV rays it emits. Children are especially susceptible to the sun and the damage it can do. Make sure to have sunglasses that offer close to 100% UV protection and aren't just tinted black with no shielding. Also, hats with broad rims and spaces to play in the shade help to cut down on the sun and its warming yet damaging effects.
Check In With Your Eye Doctor Regularly
Make regular eye appointments for your child, starting at six months old and then again around age 3 and then before they are going in to first grade. Once you have them comfortable with going as just another regularly scheduled appointment, keep it up. It is a habit they will adapt to and hopefully carry over into adulthood, for their benefit in the long term.
Reduce Your Child's Screen Time
With the modern world and the constant, nearly-unavoidable usage of computer and smartphone screens, parents need to teach their children at a young age home to use these devices smartly. Make sure to teach them to take breaks from whatever they are doing, whether it is a television screen or a cell phone. Have them sit a healthy distance from these items.
Use The 20-20-20 Rule
Speaking of screens and other devices, why not start early and teach the newer 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen use, take 20 seconds to look away at something at least 20 feet away. Gives those eyes a break and a chance to focus on something else.
Keep Those Hands Clean
Wash your hands, wash your face, wash your eyes and eyebrows. Germs can be everywhere. Extra steps make a difference. Don't share makeup with friends, and toss old makeup that could be germ-ridden. And if you wear contact lenses, follow proper care procedures so you keep your eyes and their health at the forefront of your regime.
Always Wear Proper Eyewear For Sports & Activities
Proper eyewear for children who compete in sports is also a must. You wouldn't send them out on the field without a helmet or knee-pads. A report has stated that most children's eye injuries come from incidents in competitive sports. Look for those that protect nearly 100% from UV rays and avoid polarized lenses, as that is made for glare, not UV protection.
A Small Conversation Can Go a Long Way
Another simple yet often overlooked tip is just to teach your child to be honest and upfront about anything they are experiencing with their eyes or vision. If they feel they are squinting or their sight has gotten blurry, anything. Teach them to talk to you right away. Getting to a problem as early as possible is often the best way to deal with it before it gets worse.
Remember, wearing glasses helps with your eyesight and can help younger eyes to be stimulated to work at improving. But for those who don't need glasses (at least, not yet), it isn't just a free pass to ignore their eyes. Keep aware, keep them healthy, and you can keep them functioning at the top of their game for as long as possible.