Taking care of your child’s eyes in childhood can help her have a lifetime of healthy vision. Since May is Healthy Vision Month, we have 8 tips from the CDC and the American Eye Institute to help you keep your kids’ eyes healthy.
- Get a dilated eye exam at least every 2 years.
- Know your family’s eye health history since many conditions are hereditary. You can get more frequent check-ups if your family is at higher risk for problems.
- Wear protective eyewear when playing sports, pursuing hobbies such as wood working or doing lawn work. This includes safety glasses, goggles, eye shields and eye guards. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in kids, and 90 percent of them can be prevented.
- Wear sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.
- Have kids clean their hands regularly to avoid the risk of infections like pink-eye. If they wear contacts, be sure your kids follow the cleaning instructions carefully.
- Encourage a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids is good for eye health, too.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts kids at risk for diabetes, which can lead to vision loss and glaucoma.
- Don’t smoke and encourage your kids to never start. Research shows a link between smoking and macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage – all of which can lead to blindness.
Common eye problems in children
Refractive error (need for glasses): Up to one-third of children may have trouble seeing things due to nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, and glasses or contact lenses will correct this problem.
Young children can also have amblyopia, or lazy eye. It affects 2 to 4 percent of preschoolers and can be corrected with glasses, a patch or eye drops to strengthen the weaker eye.
It’s important to catch the problem early for best results, so all children from 3 to 5 years of age should have a vision screening.
People with diabetes should have an eye exam every year to check for vision problems associated with diabetes.
In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Keeping blood sugar levels in check is important for both vision and the overall health of kids with diabetes.
If your child says his eyes are bothering him or he’s having trouble seeing, it’s a good idea to see an eye care specialist. Learn more about vision problems and check out this Eye Injury Instruction Sheet.
Keep your eye on the ball – but not without protection
For kids under 14, baseball is at the top of the list when it comes to sports-related eye injuries.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the highest risk sports for young athletes’ eyes are: baseball, basketball, boxing, hockey, paintball, racquetball, softball and squash.
Learn more about finding the right protective eye gear in this tip sheet from the National Eye Institute.