Healthy eyes and vision are a critical part of any child’s development. Your child will need good vision for just about every activity and task she chooses, whether she’s on the ball field, in class or behind the wheel.
As we celebrate Save Your Vision month in March, it’s the perfect time to share tips on keeping your children’s eyes healthy and seeing for a very long time.
The best protection is to have regular eye exams, just like you schedule well checks and dentist appointments for your child. The American Optometric Association recommends kids get a comprehensive eye exam at age 3 and again before they enter first grade, around age 6, and annually thereafter.
“Kids should have regular eye exams even if they don’t need glasses or aren’t complaining of any eye concerns,” said Dr. Casandra Solis, an optometrist with the Vision Center, an Akron Children’s Hospital Center of Excellence. “Even if a child has had an eye exam in the past without any concerns, kids are growing and can develop eye issues or a need for glasses. Make sure everything is working properly so there is nothing holding back their learning.”
Developing healthy habits now can help your child maintain healthy eyes and vision as they grow. Dr. Solis offers 7 healthy vision tips to help keep kids’ eyesight at its best and hopefully avoid eye problems in the future.
- Eat right: A balanced diet of foods rich in antioxidants and fatty acids — such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish like salmon and halibut — are important for healthy eyes. Too much junk food high in fat can cause deposits that restrict blood flow to the eyes.
- Exercise regularly: Getting regular exercise can help keep kids at a healthy weight. Being overweight can put your child at a higher risk for developing diabetes, which can lead to vision problems. In addition, exercise improves blood circulation to the eyes to help remove toxins.
- Keep germs at bay: Whatever germs or viruses are on your kids’ hands can be transferred to their eyes when they touch them. It’s one way kids catch colds and get eye infections, such as pink eye. Make sure your kids wash their hands regularly, especially before putting in their contacts.
- Gear up: Kids should wear appropriate protective eyeglasses to prevent eye injuries while playing a sport, doing a science experiment or mowing the lawn.
- Wear sunglasses: The sun’s ultraviolet rays can be harmful, so remind your kids that they should never look directly at the sun. Make sure your children wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Give eyes a break: Staring at any one thing for too long, such as a TV, phone or computer screen, can cause kids not to blink as often and they can end up with dry eyes. In addition, prolonged amount of focusing can tire their eyes. Tell kids to give their eyes a break by blinking frequently and using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Don’t smoke: Just like smoking is terrible for your body, it’s just as bad for your eye health. Smoking can increase a child’s risk for eye issues, and in some cases, can lead to blindness.
To schedule an appointment with Akron Children’s Vision Center, an Akron Children’s Hospital Center of Excellence, call 330-543-5290.