August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. So, parents, as you and your kids prepare for back-to-school season, don’t forget to put an eye exam on the list. What’s more, you can make sure that your child is taking measures to maintain their healthy eyesight.
Not only can failing eyesight affect a child’s physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also affect their social development and learning ability. The American Optometric Association reports that the majority of what a child learns is through his or her eyes. “Many times a child is unaware and won’t complain if their vision isn’t normal,” writes Dr. Linda Chous in a recent article for Muscatine Journal. “Early detection of vision problems is crucial, as untreated vision problems can impair development, affect learning, and possibly lead to permanent vision loss.”
The best way to promote your child’s eye health and prevent vision problems: Monitor their daily behavior. Ensure that you’re paying special mind to digital eye strain. That might mean that you’ll need to limit your youngster’s use of PCs, cell phones or tablets. Help your child develop good computer habits by keeping screens and tablets around a healthy distance from their eyes (about 30 or so inches). Make sure that they’re also resting their eyes at regular intervals. And encourage them not to squint. While too much squinting doesn’t cause eye damage, it can produce headaches because it contracts the muscles in the face.
Overall, to avoid digital eye strain, teach your kids the 20/20/20 rule: When your child is using a device with a computerized screen, have him or her look away from the screen every 20 minutes, at regular intervals, and take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.
And make sure to visit your pediatrician or eye doctor if you suspect your child has any of the eye diseases below:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)
- Color deficiency (color blindness)
- Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism)