8 Simple Ways to Protect Your Children’s Eyesight

Children's_eyeglassesThe words “you need glasses” to a child can send shivers down their spine and pleas of other options. I think we can all remember the tough crowd elementary school can be. Maybe your kiddos are experiencing it right now?

Taking proper care of your eyes isn’t only healthy, it’s essential to learning. That’s why when Kaiser Permanente reached out to us to talk eyesight awareness, we were eager to share tips on keeping your children’s eyesight in tip top shape.

Related: 10 Tips to Help Everyone Ease Back to School

Did you know, it’s estimated that as much as 80 percent of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. And yet a child’s vision can be overlooked. The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that 80 percent of preschoolers do not receive vision screenings.

In our busy parenting lives it’s easy to forget something as simple as a vision screening, until either our kids or someone else brings it to our attention. There’s no question it can easily slip our minds. With a toddler running around the house I have to admit I should give it a bit more thought than I have. But I really didn’t know when I should start to have checks (outside our routine pediatric visits) or how often kids should have their eyes examined?

So, here’s the answer! The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Optometric Association recommend babies have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children should receive additional eye exams at 3 years of age, and just before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at about age 5 or 6, and then every 1-2 years.

“Pediatricians and optometrists look for conditions such as a lazy eye or misaligned eyes. Early detection and treatment of these eye problems can help avoid permanent vision loss,” said Dr. Danny Ngo, a Kaiser Permanente optometrist.

Related: How to Keep Your Hobbies After Kids

With back to school on the horizon, now is a great time to schedule an appointment to get their eyes checked and make this year a bright one! Thanks to our friends at Kaiser Permanente, here are some great tips to help you spot possible early conditions and how to keep them healthy for years to come.

8 tips to spot eye problems in children:

1.        Frequent squinting

2.        Looking out one eye

3.        Tilting head to one side to see

4.        Frequent headaches

5.        Eye turning in or out, or “lazy” eye

6.        Holding reading materials too close to face

7.        Losing their place when reading

8.        Avoids reading or has difficulty reading

8 ways to protect your child’s eyes:

1.        Children, teens, even toddlers, should wear sun glasses with UVA/UVB protection.

2.        Make sure they’re not looking too closely at their TV or mobile screens.

3.        Remind them to take breaks and limit screen time.

4.        Prevent eye strain by teaching the 20-20-20 vision rule. Every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

5.        Blink often to refresh eyes and take regular breaks from the computer screen.

6.        Boost their eye health with nutrition. Eat green veggies like broccoli, kale and spinach. Blueberries and cantaloupe can help keep the retina healthy, and fish with omega 3’s can help dry eyes.

7.        If your child is active in sports, consult with an optometrist about protective eyewear such as goggles.

8.        Youngsters can start wearing contact lenses when they’re mature enough to keep them clean – normally 12 years old. Also, daily/disposable lenses may be easier for them to manage.

It’s never too early to catch a potential problem. “If parents recognize any of these signs that indicate their child has trouble seeing, schedule an exam for your child. Optometrists and pediatric ophthalmologists can make sure that your child’s eyes are healthy and that there are no other ocular conditions that can cause problems,” said Dr. Ngo.

Adding this to your back to school “to do” list may be one of the most important things to get done.

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