Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month Tips
August is National Children’s Eye and Safety Month! As we send our kids back to school this month CoachArt and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are arming parents with the facts, so they can make informed choices about their children’s eye health. Healthy eyes and vision are an important part of kids’ development, and there are several ways to address children’s eye health and safety.
Here are 6 tips for children’s eye health and safety month:
1. Eye-Healthy Nutrition
Eating a healthy diet has numerous health benefits, but getting the proper nutrition for children’s eye health helps protect a child’s eyes from damage. Protein helps strengthen developing tissues, and vitamins like C and E help to repair tissues and offer immune support to prevent infections.
Parents can help by making eye-healthy foods a regular part of their diet, specifically, foods that are high in nutrients like zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as:
- Leafy, green vegetables: spinach and kale
- Oily fish: tuna, salmon, and mackerel
- Citrus fruits and Berries: oranges, lemons, blueberries
- Vegetables: carrots, broccoli, and beets
- Seafood and meat: oysters and pork
- Protein (non-meat options): beans, nuts, seeds, and eggs
Eating an eye-healthy diet promotes children’s eye health and safety, and provides kids with healthy habits to last a lifetime.
2. Get Adequate Sleep
Getting adequate sleep rejuvenates the whole body, including the eyes. Establishing a regular sleep routine to get adequate rest promotes children’s eye health and safety.
10 Sleep Hygiene Tips For Children (Ages 0-12)
*Source: World Sleep Day
- Go to bed at the same time every night, preferably before 9:00 pm.
- Have an age-appropriate nap schedule.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
- Make your child’s bedroom sleep-conducive – cool, dark, and quiet.
- Encourage your child to fall asleep independently.
- Avoid bright light at bedtime and during the night, and increase light exposure in the morning.
- Avoid heavy meals and vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
- Keep all electronics, including televisions, computers, and cell phones, out of the bedroom and limit the use of electronics before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, including many sodas, coffee, and teas (as well as iced tea).
- Keep a regular daily schedule, including consistent mealtimes.
3. Get Kids Outside
Kids are naturally drawn to playing outdoors, and outdoor play has numerous benefits, including children’s eye health.
Research indicates that spending time outdoors benefits children’s health and helps avoid eye problems like myopia.
Participating in outdoor activities can also stimulate a child’s senses and assist them to develop normally. Like exercise for the body, being outdoors provides natural exercise for the eyes.
4. Protect Kids Eyes from Screen and Computer Eyestrain
Modern technology and the use of computers, tablets, and cell phones have added a lot of screen time to children’s daily lives. Excessive screen time, particularly at night, can cause strain and damage to kids’ eyes. Negative effects of excessive screen time can include:
- Focus issues
- Blurry vision
- Dry and irritated eyes
- Trouble sleeping
- Set a kitchen timer or a smart device timer to remind them.
- Alternate reading an e-book with a real book and encourage kids to look up and out the window every two chapters.
- After completing a level in a video game, look out the window for 20 seconds.
- Pre-mark books with a paperclip every few chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.
- Avoid using a computer outside or in brightly lit areas, as the glare on the screen can create strain.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen so that it feels comfortable to you.
- Use good posture when using a computer and when reading.
- Encourage your child to hold digital media farther away, 18 to 24 inches is ideal.
- Create a distraction that causes your child to look up every now and then.
- Remind them to blink when watching a screen.
Source: American Academy of Opthalmology. To learn more ways to keep your kid’s eyes healthy, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology website.
5. Regular Eye Checkups
When a child is experiencing eye issues, it’s important to know that not all eye conditions have noticeable symptoms. Keeping regular visits to your ophthalmologist can help detect issues early, address and treat any eye health problems, and keep children’s vision healthy.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises parents to seek a comprehensive eye exam if:
- A child fails a vision screening.
- Vision screening is inconclusive or cannot be performed.
- Referred by a pediatrician or school nurse.
- A child has a vision complaint or observed abnormal visual behavior, or is at risk for developing eye problems. Children with medical conditions (e.g., Down syndrome, prematurity, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, neurofibromatosis) or a family history of amblyopia, strabismus, retinoblastoma, congenital cataracts or congenital glaucoma are at higher risk for developing pediatric eye problems.
- A child has a learning disability, developmental delay, neuropsychological condition or behavioral issue.
*Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology
6. Eye Saftey Tips for Kids
Eye safety is an important part of maintaining healthy vision. The majority of 42,000 sports-related eye injuries in the United States each year affect children, and eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children. You can help prevent vision impairment from eye injuries by following a few basic eye safety:
- Protective Eyewear: All children should wear protective eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities
- UV Protection: Protecting a child’s eyes from the sun is extremely important for eye health in children. Wearing sunglasses (recommended to absorb 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays) is an excellent way to care for the eyes outdoors.
- Toy Safety: Be sure that toys are age-appropriate toys for children. Avoid toys with sharp or protruding parts.
- Eye Exams: Schedule a vision screening for your child and a comprehensive eye exam if necessary.
Children’s eye health is an important part of overall health and development. Using the Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month tips above, along with your doctor’s recommendations will go a long way to making sure your child’s eyes are protected and set them up for success for the school year!
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY CHILDHOOD CHRONIC ILLNESS
Since 2001, CoachArt has matched volunteer coaches with students for one-on-one or group lessons in arts and athletics. Our vision is that one day every family impacted by chronic illness will be connected to a community of support and an opportunity to learn and grow together.
CoachArt offers free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18 in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego. If your child has been diagnosed with a chronic condition, we invite you to fill out a student eligibility form or get in touch to learn if CoachArt is right for your child.
Ways to Help
Do you have an artistic or athletic skill you would like to share with a child impacted by chronic illness? Become a CoachArt Volunteer.