If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you know how hard it is to function when you cannot see clearly enough to read, drive, or recognize faces. So imagine what it is like for your child if he or she cannot see clearly while first learning about the world around them. Also consider how important it is to protect their eyesight for lifelong wellness, comfort, and success. Your children rely on you for protection and guidance, and their vision is no different in needing this support.
Kids need to visit the eye doctor, either an optometrist or ophthalmologist, at about age six months and again when they are about to start school. Then, they need a routine child eye exam every one to two years. These appointments are critical for ensuring their best ongoing eye health, vision, and overall wellness.
Below are more things you can do to protect your child’s eyes and encourage their best eye health:
Rest the Eyes
Teach your child to rest their eyes and not overexert them using electronic devices, television, or reading material. They should take a break every half hour to 40 minutes to relax their eyes.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids should not use digital devices for more than one to two hours per day. This is difficult to achieve, as schoolwork usually necessitates more time on the computer than this advice suggests. To help their eyes recover from exposure and prevent strain, have your child play outside, rest, or otherwise stop using their devices for intermittent breaks.
Protect Them From Sun Damage
The sun’s damaging rays can affect your child’s eyesight at any age. To protect your young ones, have them wear sunglasses with UV protection. A wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap can also shield their eyes when properly worn. For very young children, cover them with an umbrella.
Increase Outdoor Play Time
Although you need to protect your child’s eyes from the sun, having them play outdoors more often actually delays the development of nearsighted vision. Encourage them to swim, bicycle, play sports, or pursue other outdoor activities for better hand-eye coordination, too. Just try to avoid the hottest times of day in summer, typically from 11 am to 4 pm.
Have Them Eat More Fish, Fruits, and Vegetables
Lutein and zeaxanthin in vegetables and fruits help protect your kids’ eyes from damage caused by free radicals. To ensure they get more of these nutrients, have them eat kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, egg yolks, collard greens, corn, pistachios, avocado, kiwi, grapes, zucchini, goji berries, orange juice and orange peppers. Salmon, tuna, and herring also aid the development of their eyes.
Go to the Eye Doctor
As said before, it is essential to schedule regular visits for a child eye exam. These exams catch signs of vision problems and eye health conditions early. By doing so, they improve your child’s physical development, overall wellness, and school performance.
Encourage Good Eye Health
Teach your child about eye health and how to take care of their eyes. Good habits to encourage should include using adequate lighting for play or reading, holding books at a distance of 30 to 40cm from their eyes and keeping electronic devices at a distance of 50cm. They must also learn to strive for eight solid hours of sleep or more each night. This sleep prevents eye strain from regular daily activities.
Instill Good Eye Development Habits in Babies
Babies need you to help them develop good eyesight, too. Some suggestions for your baby’s best eye health include:
- Place toys 8 to 12 inches from their face
- Encourage them to crawl for good hand-eye coordination development
- Encourage your baby to follow you with their eyes by talking to them as you move around a room
- Hang a mobile over your baby’s crib
- Give your baby colourful objects to hold and follow with their eyes
- If your baby’s vision development seems delayed, talk to their eye doctor
Make Good Toy Choices for Young Children
For healthy eye and vision development, offer your active child the following types of toys:
- Building blocks or linking bricks
- Finger paints
- Modelling clay
- Stringing beads
- Drawing tools