I don’t know about you, but I’ve stared into my child’s eyes countless times. When she was a baby, I marveled at the miracle that I was holding in my arms. I still am in awe of her, and like any other mom, I want my child to be healthy in every way. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and it’s important to do all we can to help our kids have great vision. In addition to feeding our children a healthy diet, there are a few other things we can do.
REGULAR EYE EXAMS
Your baby’s initial eye exam will be with a pediatrician, but he or she will eventually need to visit an optometrist. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, less than 15% of preschool children get an eye exam and less than 22% receive vision screening. The American Optometric Association has set forth some recommended guidelines for how often your child’s eyes should be examined:
- Birth to 24 Months – At 6 months of age
- 2 to 5 years – At 3 years of age
- 6 to 18 years – Before first grade and every two years thereafter
Be sure to consult with your child’s doctor or optometrist to determine what is best.
Before my little one’s first exam, we watched cartoons about going to see the eye doctor. There are also books for children that help in preparation for their appointment. It also helped that we found a pediatric optometrist that understood how to make her feel at ease. As a result, the annual eye exam is a stress-free event.
PROTECT THEIR EYES
We all know that we should have our children play with safe and age appropriate toys and also wear proper athletic gear when playing sports. But, those cute sunglasses we love our kids to wear also protect their eyes. Young eyes are more vulnerable to UV rays because they’re not mature. Therefore, they should wear proper eye protection. I know it can be a challenge to get your child to wear sunglasses and a sun hat, but don’t give up. Start the habit while they’re young and compliment them on how cute they look (because they do). Explain that you’re just trying to keep their eyes healthy. Be consistent and persistent, and your efforts will pay off.
Another way we can protect our child’s eyes is by limiting screen time (yes, this topic again). I’m right with you – prying the phone or tablet away from those cute little hands or turning of the TV is an ongoing battle with our family. I know you’ve heard and read over and over about the negative effects of too much screen time, but it turns out that it can also affect a child’s vision, as it may be a reason for the rising incidence of nearsightedness. The key is – less screen time, more sunlight (with proper eye protection).
LOOK FOR WARNING SIGNS
Mothers can play an important part in promoting good eye health, which includes noticing any warning signs, which may range from squinting, light sensitivity, excessive blinking, frequent headaches, to avoiding reading. Children don’t typically complain about vision problems and infants aren’t able to do so. You know when your child isn’t acting normally, so if you suspect a problem, don’t be afraid to take action.
Your child’s vision can impact their ability to learn and seriously affect their overall way of life. As someone who has worn glasses since childhood, I’m aware of the importance of eye health. I hope that you’ve found at least one thing you can do for the sake of your child’s eyes.