Your child’s eyes are important. They are one of the most vital organs in their body, and yet they don’t get enough attention. We tend to take our eyesight for granted. We wear sunglasses when we need them and ignore them when we don’t. We protect them occasionally but mostly forget about them until something goes wrong.
As per WHO, at least 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from some kind of vision impairment. St last half of which, or 1 billion, could have been prevented or needs to be addressed.
There are many small ways you can help your child keep their eyes healthy and strong. And that starts with protecting their vision year-round.
Get Them to Pay Attention to Their Eyes
Your child should understand healthy eyes and inform you as soon as they feel a problem in their vision. As per the NIH, an estimated 1% – 5% of preschool children in the U.S. have myopia. The number rises to 9% in school-aged children, and approx. 30% in adolescents.
And though the only way to take care of near-sightedness in children is to get them the best eyeglasses, the sooner the problem is found, the easier it is to control it.
It would help if you had your child’s eyes examined by an ophthalmologist at least once a year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children get their first eye exam before age three and then again before entering school to ensure that they are reaching their full visual potential.
If there is a change in the child’s vision, it’s important to schedule an appointment with an eye care professional right away. Some common vision problems include:
- Red or irritated eyes
- Squinting or rubbing the eyes
- Headaches (especially if they occur more often when reading)
- Changes in color perception
Have Them Wear Sunglasses
Put sunglasses on your kids, and encourage them to wear them at all times when they’re outside. The sun’s rays can be harmful to their eyes, so they must protect themselves with the right type of glasses.
Sunglasses that block UV rays are the best option. They’re generally labeled “UV 400,” “UV protection,” or something similar in the product description. Polarized lenses are also beneficial because they reduce glare from surfaces such as water and snow, which can cause eye strain.
Show Your Kids How to Take Breaks From Screens
As per a recent study, there has been a 32% increase in screen time for children in the U.S. in the past two decades. Screen time for children also increases with age, with an average of 2.5 hrs of daily screen time seen for children aged between 2 to 4.
You’ll want to teach your child how to take breaks from screens. Most experts recommend that children take a break from screens at least once an hour and no more than two hours per time they’re using them. And the best way to teach this is by example. Don’t be afraid to remind your child when it’s time for a break, and then make sure you’re taking one, too.
Remember that our eyes need rest just like other parts of our bodies do. If we keep them focused on one task for too long without giving them a chance to rest, they’ll get tired and strained easily.
Promote Their Eye-Hand Coordination
It is essential to give your child toys and games that promote eye-hand coordination. Ping pong, badminton, baseball, yo-yos, hula hoops, jump ropes, and coloring books are all great options to help improve their eye health.
Another way to encourage healthy eyes is through imagination. Your child can pretend they’re the captain of a ship sailing from port to port or a superhero fighting off villains in their hometown. Use your imagination too.
Encourage Your Child to Eat Foods That Improve Their Vision
Your child’s eyesight is important, and you can help protect it by making sure they eat a balanced diet. Certain nutrients have been shown to help improve vision and reduce the risk of macular degeneration later in life.
Carrots: Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A when digested. Vitamin A plays an important role in eye health because it assists with central vision and night vision by aiding the eye’s ability to detect small changes in light intensity. It also protects against harmful UV rays from sunlight that may damage the retina.
Salmon: Salmon contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), which research suggests may slow down or prevent age-related macular degeneration through their anti-inflammatory properties.
Help Your Child Stay Hydrated
Keep your child well-hydrated by making sure they drink water regularly. They should drink more when it’s hot outside, before, during, and after exercise, and when they’re sick, hungry or thirsty.
If you want to get the most out of your child’s eyesight development, then ensure they stay hydrated all day.
Use an Eye Wash Solution
The eyewash solution is important for keeping your eyes clean. It’s a good idea to have some in the car, in the classroom, and at home. You can buy eyewash solutions at any drugstore.
Look Straight Ahead
Looking straight ahead is the first thing to consider when protecting your child’s eyes. When looking down, the rays of light from the sun bounce off tiny particles in the air and enter the eye, causing damage. To avoid this, make sure your child is constantly looking at objects far away or close up and in the distance as well.
The next tip involves adjusting their vision by shifting their focus to distant objects every few minutes. This will help them adjust their internal lenses so they can see clearly out of both eyes equally well.
Exercise the Muscles Around Their Eyes Often
One of the best ways to care for your child’s eyes is to teach them how to exercise their eye muscles. Here are some exercises you can do with them:
- Look up and down.
- Blink rapidly for a minute or two, then close your eyes tightly shut and relax them for a few minutes.
- Squint at an object across the room from you, then look out at something far away (without squinting). Do this several times per day, making sure that they don’t strain when they do so.
- Look in all directions (left, right, up) while looking out of windows or walking around outside during playtime. Also, encourage kids to look at things at different distances by asking them what objects appear closer/farther away than others.
We hope that you now feel more confident in helping your child learn to protect their eyes. As we mentioned, it’s never too early to start teaching your child how important it is to take care of their eyesight. Following these simple tips can protect their vision for a lifetime.
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