Everything is possible for your kids when they have a good vision. Without a good vision, your kids aren’t able to learn which makes the world around them difficult. Factually, children are most vulnerable to poor eye health and safety than people of every other age group. This is because of their size, behaviour, and physiology.
So, here’s brief information on kids’ eye health and safety which will help you take more care of them.
Your child’s vision
To fully understand about kids’ eye health, it is beneficial to first know about how vision develops in a baby. Here’s a timeline of the development of vision in a baby:
- Newborns – It is very interesting to know that the acuity (vision sharpness) is already fully developed in a newborn baby. They are attracted to faces and brightly coloured objects.
- 3 months – By now, babies have full control over their eyes and are able to follow a moving object. Cot mobiles help in stimulating their vision development.
- 6 months – The eye develops two third of its adult’s size at 6 months while distant vision and depth perception continue to develop.
- 1 year old – By now, the eyes are almost fully developed. Coordination of the eyes can be improved with games which involve activities such as catching, placing, tossing, and pointing.
- 2 to 5 years old – Vision is well coordinated with hearing at the preschooler age.
Kids’ eye health
As discusses above, a good vision is essential for any kid to learn properly in and outside of school. Here are the vision skills that every child needs to have to read and learn effectively.
Eye focusing – it is the ability to maintain clear vision while the distance of the object(s) changes. For instance, a child can easily maintain clear vision when looking from a book to the chalkboard (and vice versa) with a good eye focusing ability.
Visual acuity – with a good visual acuity, a child is able to see clearly over distant objects.
Eye tracking – it is the ability to focus on a target when shifting gaze from one object to another. For instance, following a moving ball, or moving the eyes along a printed page.
Visual perception – with a good visual perception, a child is able to organise, understand images and remember what it is. For instance, normal visual perception allows a child to read and remember.
Eye-hand coordination – it is the ability to direct hands using information. Normal eye-hand coordination allows a child to draw pictures, write, or play.
As children spend a great deal of time in school learning, they face increasing demand on their visual abilities while they are progressing. Although parents are very concerned about getting the best education for their children, the vision, which is one of the crucial elements of learning, is often overlooked.
Children have to spend a great time reading school books that have small print size and increased homework may put extra pressure on their eyes. This, therefore, can tire the eyes.
When the vision in a child is not fully developed or if the child has poor eye health, he/she may find attending the school and learning difficult. If your child is suffering from poor eye health, he/she may show these typical signs:
- Short attention span – as they experience discomfort and fatigue.
- Avoid reading or looking into objects that are near and intricate.
- Poor performance in school work.
Children may experience vision changes during the school years. So, it is very important that parents ensure regular eye and vision care. Failing to do so can cause eye problems to occur.
Common eye problems in kids
There are many eye problems (diseases and conditions) which can affect a child’s vision. Here are the common eye problems in kids.
- Strabismus – it is a condition in which one or both eyes get misaligned and may be intermittent or constant. Strabismus in children typically results in lazy eye.
- Amblyopia – Amblyopia (aka lazy eye) is the poor vision in an eye that has not fully developed eyesight. Amblyopia can also be referred as deterioration of vision which results from the misalignment of the eyes (strabismus).
- Refractive errors – it is a common eye problem in kids’ which involves blurry vision. Refractive errors are classified into two types: Nearsightedness (poor distant vision), and Farsightedness (poor close vision).
- Astigmatism – Astigmatism is a condition in which one cannot see both distant and close objects clearly as they appear blurred. It is the result of imperfection in the eye’s curvature.
- Epiphora – Epiphora (aka childhood tearing) is a condition which involves excessive tearing. The condition often occurs during infancy but can be acquired later on as well.
- Congenital Glaucoma – it is a rare condition in infants which is often inherited. The condition is the result of incomplete or incorrect development of the drainage canals of the eyes before birth.
- Infantile Cataracts – in general, cataract is the clouding of the eyes’ lens. Infantile Cataracts occurs in newborns.
- Retinoblastoma – it is a malignant tumour which causes whiteness in the pupil and vision loss. Retinoblastoma can affect children of up to 3 years.
- Double vision – as the name suggests, double vision involves the displaced perception of an object in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal fashion. It is often caused by misalignment of the eyes (strabismus).
- Nystagmus – it is a condition in which the eyes move involuntarily. The eye movements can be circular, up and down, or side-to-side.
Spotting signs of eye problems in kids
Children may not complain or tell you about their eye/vision problems as they can be on the perception that how they see is the way everyone else sees. And children aren’t usually concerned about their health, they may try to get away with bearing the eye/vision problem(s).
So, it’s up to you to check for any sign which may be an indication that your child has eye/vision problem. Here are some indicative signs:
- Short attention span
- Difficulty in reading and seeing closer objects
- Difficulty in remembering what he/she has read/watched
- Tilting the head to one side
- Frequent headaches
- Poor concentration
- Consistently holding books and other objects close to the face to see properly
- Frequent blinking
- Chronic rubbing of the eyes
- Reddening of the eyes
- Watery eyes/excess tearing
- Lower eyelids getting swollen
- Covering one eye
- Using a finger as a guide while reading
- Sensitivity to light
- Avoiding using the computer (as the eyes hurt)
Foods to keep the eyes healthy in kids
The best ways to keep your child away from eye/vision problems is making them eat healthily. The right and healthy foods provide the eyes with essential nutrition which helps in keeping eye problems/diseases at bay.
Here are the foods that are beneficial for kids’ eye health and vision:
Fresh and green leafy vegetables play a profound role in improving eyesight and are thus considered as super foods for the eyes. Green leafy veggies such as Collards, Kale, Spinach and Broccoli are a rich source of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, A, and Calcium.
Making your child eat grapes and blueberries can improve their night vision. Make sure to include blueberries in your child’s lunchbox as they reduce eye fatigue and helps in improving vision.
- Carrots and sweet potatoes
Yellow vegetables such as carrots contain a high amount of Vitamin A and beta-carotene which promote retinal health and better eyesight.
Omega-3 fatty acid promotes blood circulation in the brain which in turn results in improved eye function. Dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and flax seeds are some of the plant-based omega-3 sources.
Almond is a rich source of Vitamin E and is an excellent food for the eyes. Make sure that you give small amounts of almonds to your child.
Eye exams for kids
Taking children for regular eye check-up is essential in ensuring that they have a good eye health. There are different types of eye doctors and their names can be confusing.
Optometrist – they provide medical care of the eye but do not perform surgery.
Ophthalmologist – they provide complete eye care including medical care and surgery.
Pediatric Ophthalmologist – they specialise in treating kids’ eye problems.
Here are the eye exams that children should undergo:
- New born babies should be checked for general eye health even if they do not have eye irregularities.
- Babies who are 1 year old, should be checked for general eye health routinely.
- At around age 3, kids should be screened for general eye health and visual acuity test.
- Pediatric Ophthalmologist can be chosen for vision and eye alignment test for 5-year-olds.
- Kids who are more than 5 years old should undergo routine screenings.
Eye health safety for kids
Eye safety is another crucial aspect of ensuring good eye health in your child. Children are often reckless and aren’t concerned much about their eyes. So, you as a concerned parent must teach/supervise eye safety to your child.
Here are some of the eye safety measures for kids:
1) Sports-related eye injuries
Kids are often energetic and can get carried away while playing outdoors. In such cases, they may unintentionally cause harm to their eyes. Kids aren’t bothered about their eye safety when they are exploring and experimenting new things.
So, it is very important to make your child wear a protective eye wear whenever he/she is playing outdoors. Similarly, if your kid takes swimming classes, make sure he/she wears swimming goggles as chlorine present in swimming pool water can irritate the eyes.
2) Eye injury with toys
Although toys are intended to be kids’ best companion, they can pose a risk of eye injuries as well. Try and get rid of all the jagged toys as they can cause eye injury upon mishandling. Also, when you are buying new toys for your child, check the packet to see if the materials used in the toy are safe for children.
3) Eye injury inside the house
As much the risk of eye injury outdoors is concerned, your child is not completely safe inside the house as well. Make your house safe and lower the risk of eye injury to your child. You can do this by identifying all the sharp corners inside the house and making them blunt or covering them with protective padding.
4) Too much of TV, computer, and games
Your child’s eye already has a lot to take in during school time and watching TV or using a computer at home for long hours adds extra stress to the eyes. So, you’ve got to limit TV, computer, PlayStation, and phone exposure to ensure that their eyes don’t get excessively tired.
5) Safety in school labs
Kids are often required to visit science labs in school to learn practical. When in the laboratory, the teacher must insist students to wear protective eye glass to stay safe from the risk of chemical spillage.
6) Carefulness with contact lens and spectacles
If you child has been prescribed glasses or contacts, then you’ve got to teach them how to handle it carefully. For instance, remind your child to take off the contacts while sleeping and bathing.
7) Precaution with chemicals inside the house
Chemicals inside your home such as petrol, insecticides, paint, and fertilizers pose a great risk to your kid’s eyes. Therefore, it is important to label them with a warning sign. For the best, keep them out of reach for your child.
8) Safety during travelling
When you travelling with your kid in the car, make your he/she is wearing a safety belt throughout the journey to avoid bumps upon applying brakes.
9) Sleep routine
One of the best ways to keep your kid’s eye health safe and sound is to insisting them on sleeping early.
10) Avoiding rubbing the eyes
Whenever you see your child rubbing his/her eyes, you should immediately stop them and instruct them not to do so. Instead, you can soak a piece of cloth in lukewarm water to bring relief in case a foreign object gets into the eye.