August is almost here, and so is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!
Children are the future of our country; they are extremely special, and so is their sight. Eye health and safety are essential elements of a fulfilling childhood. A vast majority of learning happens during these formative years of a child, and it happens visually. Therefore, good vision is an essential constituent of a child’s well-being, intellectual development, and physical development.
Eye health, along with good eyesight, is extremely important for a child’s development. Staying on top of a child’s vision is the number one priority for a parent since it is not always possible for a child to realize whether their eye health is great or not.
According to statistics, one out of every 20 children has serious eye concerns, which could potentially cause permanent vision impairment if not treated in time. These problems usually occur among children between the ages of 3 and 5. Despite these alarming statistics, four out of five children do not get their eye screenings done routinely.
About the Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month
Prevent Blindness and National Optometric Association have teamed up and declared August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. The month focuses on educating parents and guardians on different steps that must be taken to make their child’s eyes provide the necessary attention and care that they deserve. All this is done to ensure the child is provided the best opportunity to have a great school year, owing to healthy eyesight.
Can your child be at risk of developing vision problems?
A child can be at higher risk of developing vision problems if they:
- Were born prematurely (less than 32 weeks gestation)
- Have a family history of vision disorders, like childhood cataracts, amblyopia (lazy eye), misaligned eye, an eye tumor, etc.
- Have had an eye injury in the past. They can result in problems from certain childhood eye injuries, which may or may not develop later in life.
- Have been diagnosed with problems that can affect their physical, mental, and emotional development.
Common signs to detect vision-related problems
This Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, experts present some common signs you need to track. If your child is displaying any of the following signs, you need to take them to their routine eye screening:
- Frequently rubbing their eyes
- Closing or covering either of their eyes
- Tilting their heads
- Thrusting their head forward
- They are having trouble reading or skipping words/lines while reading
- Reduced comprehension
- Blinking eyes more than usual
- Squinting their eyes
- Poor attention span or homework taking extra time to complete
Suppose your child is displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above, or you have a family history of vision impairment. In that case, your child needs to be taken to a doctor for an eye examination.
Some of the most common vision problems among children that you need to know on Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month are Amblyopia (lazy eye), color deficiency (color blindness), Ptosis (eyelid drooping), and refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism). Many of these conditions can be treated if diagnosed early. So, the earlier the diagnosis, the more effective the treatment will be.
As per the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 80% of preschoolers have not received any form of eye screening even once. Your child’s eyes should be examined as soon as they turn six months old. The subsequent screenings should happen at the age of three and then yearly while they are in school. If your child’s vision is not kept track of, it can result in potentially permanent blindness and vision loss.
If you or your pediatrician suspects that your little one could have vision problems, you should immediately make an appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist. It is essential to know here that multiple warning signs can indicate possible vision-related issues with your children.
Parents should look out for any of the following signs and be on alert if they actually see one:
- They are sitting too close to the TV
- They hold their book very close to themselves
- They squint their eyes
- They tilt their head
- Your child frequently rubs their eyes
- They have a shorter attention span
- They are seen turning their eyes in and out
- They seem to be extra sensitive to light
- Your child has difficulty with eye-hand and body coordination while they are riding their bikes or playing.
- They avoid coloring activities and puzzles
- They are not interested in reading
- They have difficulty viewing distant objects
- Your child is not performing great at school.
Parents and guardians are encouraged during the Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month to stress the importance of their child’s eyes. It is time you start practicing safe eye habits for years to come.
Since a child spends a significant amount of time playing, whether indoor or outdoor, their eyes are always at risk. Your child’s vision is, of course, not in your hands. However, you can still control and protect your child’s eyes with proper eye protection and precautions.
Protect your child’s eyes
Proper protective eye gear should be worn when they are playing any kind of sport. These gears can be bought at any independent eye care store. Moreover, it is essential to set certain time limits for kids when watching TV or playing a video game. Approximately 30 minutes of playing, followed by a visual break, is encouraged in children. Moreover, indoor playtime on video games should not exceed two hours in total on any day. Ensure your child is wearing near-work-specific glasses while reading and playing video games.
An inevitable part of a child’s life is accidents. If they do happen and your child injures their eye, it is important as a parent/guardian to follow these steps:
- Do not allow your child to touch their eye after an accident
- Do not let them rub their eyes
- Do not try to remove any debris from their eyes on your own
- If any chemical substances have been in their eye, try to flush their eye out with water.
- Do not perform any kind of eye treatment/procedure on your own. Medical professional’s help is required for the same. If accidents of any form, major or minor, happen, immediately seek medical attention.
Your child’s vision is important, not just for you and them but for the future of our entire world. They are the visionaries of the world; they are going to take this world forward. So let’s take a pledge this Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month that we will ensure our children can see the world with healthy and safe eyes for years to come.