How to take care of your child's eyes
Good vision is extremely important for a child's development. Children are not very careful while socializing and playing, so maintaining the health of children's eyes is your task as a parent. When outside, if their sunglasses do not offer sufficient protection, over time children can develop more serious conditions. A child's eye is more sensitive than an adult's, and children are much more exposed to the sun, because they love to play outside most of the time. Despite this, in parks or on the beach, children often wear poor-quality sunglasses with their favorite cartoon characters on, which serve as entertainment, not protection.
Polarized glasses have no UV protection
Children should wear sunglasses, not to be fashionable or look cute, but to protect their eyes. Protecting children's eyes from the harmful rays of the sun is important from an early age so that they do not permanently seriously serious damage their vision. Children should wear sunglasses because the sun is the main source of UV rays, the main cause of damage to the tissues of the eye. You don't see the damage right away, but the eye becomes damaged over time, and the consequences may be permanent.
When choosing sunglasses to effectively block UV rays, you should ask for a certificate proving that the glasses really protect against harmful rays. If the glasses are simply dark but without optimal protection against UV rays, they will cause even more damage to the eyes. Low-quality dark glasses will contribute to the dilation of the pupil, which will allow even more UV rays to penetrate the eye.
In addition, it is important to check if the glasses you buy for your kid are marked as polarized. If there is a such mark, it means that the glasses have no UV protection. If the sunglasses do not provide 100% of the necessary protection, your child can still develop certain eye conditions over time. Unfortunately, some of those conditions can be more serious, though some can be easily curable. Therefore, you should always choose high-quality sunglasses for kids that will guarantee complete protection and thus allow for healthy eyes.
Signs that indicate your child has vision problems
Vision problems often appear at preschool age but remain undetected until children begin to read and write. Most children do not realize that it is not normal to have blurry vision, so the eye problem remains in the shadows.
As a parent, you can tell if your child has vision problems. Here are the signs that might indicate that you need to act:
- holding books too close while reading;
- sitting close to the screen while watching TV or playing on the computer;
- squinting or turning the head, or squinting or covering one eye while looking at a certain object;
- losing the order of the text on the page while reading or using the finger as a guide;
- not distinguishing between certain colors;
- having difficulty looking at distant objects such as the board at school;
- often complaining of a headache or eye pain;
- blinking excessively and scratching the eyes;
- the appearance of dry eye;
- double vision, etc.
Tips for protecting children's eyes
The sun, bad habits, and even children's games can seriously damage children's eyes. Fortunately, you can do a lot to prevent that from happening.
- Limit the time your child spends in front of the computer and TV. Nowadays, it is a real challenge to separate the child from the computer or the TV, but you have to engage with it. Limit the time your child spends in front of the screen. Ideally, a child should not spend more than 1–2 hours a day looking at a TV or computer screen1. Advise him to rest his eyes every 20 minutes by blinking to keep them moist or looking at a distant object for 20 seconds. Also, kids tend to be obese while having a more sedentary life due to using digital devices2.
Do not let the child watch TV in a completely darkened room.
Although most people love to watch TV in dark rooms, this is wrong, because the bright light from the screen makes the eyes even more tired. Make sure there is enough light in the room where the child is studying. Reading in a dimly lit room is tiring for the eyes and can lead to headaches and fatigue. The light source on the desk where your child studies should not be directed towards his face, nor should it come from behind him. If they are spending too much time on their favorite digital device, blue light blocking glasses for kids3 are the best option.
- They shouldn’t read while in a car or on the bus. Reading while driving is harmful, because it is harder for the eyes to focus on the text, and thus they strain much more.
- Buy high-quality sunglasses. Prospek-50 kids are third-party tested lenses that provide optimal protection from UV radiation. As said before, children's eyes are more sensitive than adults' eyes. It is thought that up to 70% more UV rays reach the retina of children's eyes compared to those of adults. Make sure the glasses you buy for your child have adequate UV protection, and that the lenses are not scratched or damaged.
- Teach him not to rub his eyes if sand or dust gets in them. Children's street games, wind at the beach, or dust in the air can easily "throw" danger into children's eyes. Rubbing the eyes while there is a foreign body in the eye is a serious mistake that can lead to damage to the delicate retinas of children's eyes. Advise the child to blink, and do not stop him if he wants to cry, because tears can help to remove the foreign body. Wash their eyes with clean water until the irritation is gone.
- Be careful when swimming in a pool. Chlorine in swimming pools does not have a positive effect on children's eyes at all, regardless of the level in the water. A high concentration of chlorine can cause serious eye irritation. On the other hand, low-chlorine pools allow algae and bacteria to grow, which can lead to infection if a child swims with their eyes open. If your child likes to dive underwater, provide him with swimming goggles for kids to prevent chlorinated water or bacteria from entering his eyes.
- Regularly serve food that is good for the eyes. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals help the eyes develop healthily4. Your mother was right when she kept reminding you how important carrots were for your eyes. Now, you need to do the same with your child. Include more fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts rich in vitamins A, C, and E in his meals.
- Take your child for regular check-ups5. Did you know that your little one needs to go through their first routine eye exam before they start school? Eye tests can help detect serious vision and eye health problems early. If your child has diabetes, or multiple people in your family have vision problems, take your child to an ophthalmologist every two years.
Ophthalmologists also advise that the lenses of glasses be larger and rounded to better protect the eyes. It is also recommended that they be made of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is the oldest and safest material for glasses, so if the glasses fall, the lenses will not easily break. They are also very durable and lightweight, so your kid would not have problems wearing them.
1. American Academy of Pediatrics. April 6, 2021. Media and Children.
2. Robinson TN, Banda JA, Hale L, Lu AS, Fleming-Milici F, Calvert SL, Wartella E. Screen Media Exposure and Obesity in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 2017 Nov;140(Suppl 2):S97-S101. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-1758K. PMID: 29093041; PMCID: PMC5769928.
3. Leung TW, Li RW, Kee CS. Blue-Light Filtering Spectacle Lenses: Optical and Clinical Performances. PLoS One. 2017 Jan 3;12(1):e0169114. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169114. PMID: 28045969; PMCID: PMC5207664.
4. Lawrenson JG, Downie LE. Nutrition and Eye Health. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 6;11(9):2123. doi: 10.3390/nu11092123. PMID: 31489894; PMCID: PMC6771137.
5. Dr. Lazarus R. July 15, 2020. 8 Tips to Protect Your Child’s Vision. Optometrists Network.