Parents recognize there’s no aspect of kids’ health that can be taken for granted. Common colds can appear overnight, and injuries on the playground can occur in the blink of an eye. Such issues may be hard to see coming, but the risk for colds, playground injuries and other health-related conditions, including childhood vision problems, can be mitigated with various preventive measures.
Vision issues that affect children can lead to a host of unwanted outcomes, including physical injuries and decreased academic performance. Though kids may ultimately need vision problems to be corrected with the help of an eye doctor, the following are some steps parents can take to protect their children’s vision over the long haul.
· Schedule routine eye exams. The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that children’s vision can be screened by various medical professionals, including eye doctors but also pediatricians, family physicians or other properly trained health care providers. The AAO recommends children at all age levels receive eye examinations. Newborns will need eye exams so doctors can check for various indicators of eye health, while a second eye exam conducted during a well visit before the child’s first birthday can confirm healthy eye alignment and movement. Exam intervals can be discussed with a physician as children age, but it’s important that kids receive routine eye exams to confirm their vision is healthy and to identify any issues that could be compromising their vision.
· Feed children a healthy diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which have the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain healthy vision.
· Monitor screen time. The CDC notes that excessive screen time can exacerbate uncorrected vision problems. Daily screen time limits can help protect kids’ vision, and parents should ensure kids take frequent breaks when using digital devices. Frequent breaks from additional activities like reading, writing and drawing also can protect kids’ vision.
· Squeeze in time outdoors. Access and exposure to nature pays a host of health-related dividends, including some linked to eye health. The CDC notes that going outdoors affords kids’ eyes the opportunity to look at distant objects, which can provide a respite from the eye strain and fatigue that can develop when looking at screens or books.
· Provide protective eyewear, including sunglasses. Exposure to UV rays from the sun can harm children’s eyes, so kids should wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection when spending time outside. The CDC also urges children to wear protective eyewear when engaging in activities such as sports that can increase their risk for eye injury and vision loss.
Taking steps to protect long-term vision is a vital component of childhood preventive health care.