Want to Protect Your Children's Vision? Encourage These Healthy Eye Habits
Good vision is essential for everything your child does, from riding a bike to tying his or her shoes to mastering math facts. Encouraging your kids to adopt these healthy eye habits will decrease their risk of eye injuries and may even help them avoid myopia.
Spend More Time in the Sun
Urging your kids to go outside to play might lower their chances of developing myopia (nearsightedness). Children who are nearsighted see close objects clearly, but objects in the distance look blurry.
Spending an additional 76 minutes outside per day could reduce a child's myopia risk by as much as 50%, according a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of sunlight on myopia. Unfortunately, increasing outdoor time didn't stop myopia from getting worse if children were already nearsighted. The researchers, who published their results in Acta Ophthalmology in 2017, noted that more research is needed on the subject.
Limit Screen Time
Staring at digital screens for hours can lead to dry eye. That's not surprising since people tend to blink less when looking at screens. Spending too much time using screens can also cause eyestrain, headaches and other symptoms.
An Indian survey on the effects of digital devices on vision during the COVID-19 lockdown reported that digital device users experienced watery eyes, dry eyes, shoulder pain, back pain, headache and red eyes. The symptoms were worse the longer the people used the devices or if they used more than one digital device.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends following the 20-20-20 rule to improve eye comfort when using digital devices. After using a digital device for 20 minutes, ask your kids to look at an object 20 feet in the distance for 20 seconds.
Wear Safety Goggles
Safety goggles prevent eye injuries due to a blow from an elbow or hand or exposure to dirt and debris during a practice or athletic event. Goggles should be tight enough to prevent fingers or airborne debris from reaching your child's eyes but not so tight that the eyewear is uncomfortable. Since you never know when an eye injury will happen, it's important to wear goggles during every practice and game.
Keep Sunglasses Handy
Sun exposure increases your child's risk of developing eye diseases that could cause vision loss when you son or daughter gets older. Exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet (UVB) light increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, eye cancer and growths on the eye.
Failing to wear sunglasses on the beach or when skiing can cause photokeratitis, or sunburn of the cornea, the clear round covering over your iris and pupil. Sand, snow, water and ice reflect UV light on the eyes, causing the condition. Although photokeratitis only lasts a few hours and days, it's extremely painful.
Check the tag before you buy sunglasses for your child. For maximum protection, choose glasses that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Wraparound sunglasses are the best choice, as they offer complete protection for the eyes.
Schedule Yearly Eye Examinations
Yearly visits to the optometrist help you ensure that your son or daughter's vision is as crisp and clear as possible. Although school vision tests are very helpful, they don't always catch all types of vision problems. In fact, up to 75% of vision issues aren't identified during school exams, according to the AOA.
According to AOA recommendations, children should receive a baseline exam between 6 and 12 months, one comprehensive exam between 3 and 5, and annual visits starting before first grade.
Eye exams at the optometrist's office offer a simple way to protect and enhance your child's vision. Give us a call if your child is due for a visit with the eye doctor.
Acta Ophthalmology: Time Spent in Outdoor Activities in Relation to Myopia Prevention and Control: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review, 09/2017
Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: Impact on the Use of Digital Devices on the Eyes During the Lockdown Period of the COVID-19 Pandemic, July 2021
American Optometric Association: Computer Vision Syndrome
American Academy of Ophthalmology: The Sun, UV Light and Your Eyes, 06/11/2020
American Optometric Association: Championing Children's Eye Care, 7/24/2019