As a parent, you want to do everything to make sure your children get the best chance at life, and become happy, well balanced, adults. This means you need to look after them properly, and that includes looking after their eyes, something many people forget. Babies often have a form of conjunctivitis, which generally clears up on its own. After that, we often forget to provide proper care and attention to our children’s windows to their souls.
The majority of children don’t need eye glasses, and they will usually have their vision tested in school to be sure. However, that doesn’t mean you should not have any concerns. In fact, a lot of parents don’t even start thinking about sight until their children start to read, but problems may be present long before that.
Possible Sight Problems in Children
The most common problems children have with their sight are:
• Color blindness
• Lazy eye
• Short- or long-sightedness
It is important that you regularly have your children’s eyes checked, but also that you do all that is possible to avoid them sustaining any damage. Let’s take a look at the 5 things to avoid to keep your kids’ eyes safe.
1. The Sun
You must make sure your children are protected from the sun. It is likely that you will put a hat on your young children, and cover them in sunscreen. Neither of these will really protect your child’s eyes from the sun, however. Did you know that 76% of parents say they don’t make their kids wear sunglasses? You must make sure that you are part of the 24%. You must also remember not to make your child avoid the sun. Children who spend more time outdoors have healthier lifestyles and are less likely to be short-sighted. Just make sure that your children wear sunglasses, thinking about the following things:
• They must offer 100% UV protection.
• They have to be of good quality and dark.
• Fashion and price comes AFTER safety (80% of under 25s admit to doing the opposite).
There should be absolutely no reason why you should let your child on a sunbed anyway. They are linked to skin cancer and can damage the eyes. If, for whatever reason, your children have to use a sunbed, make sure that they wear protective eye glasses. Without them, they are at increased risk of developing cataract and age-related macular degeneration.
3. Computer Screens
It is almost impossible to keep your children away from screens nowadays. However, you have to make sure you minimize their exposure as much as possible. Kids over the age of 3 should spend no more than two hours per day looking at a screen, excluding time spent on homework. Children under the age of three should have no screen exposure at all. Excessive screen exposure has a number of significant dangers, not in the least the development of computer vision syndrome.
Having a pet is a joy in children’s lives, as well as teaching them important life lessons such as care and responsibilities. However, pets carry a number of parasites and diseases that can infect children, many of which affect the eyes. These parasites and diseases include:
• Toxocariasis, decreasing vision, making children go cross eyed, causing swelling, and damaging the retina.
• Toxoplasmosis, which can even be deadly, particularly in unborn fetuses (this is why a pregnant woman should never clean a cat’s litter tray).
Nobody would suggest that you don’t allow your child to play with toys. However, you have to be very aware of the potential dangers that toys can present to your child’s eyes. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that around 250,000 children go to emergency rooms every year because of an eye injury caused by toys. 35% of these are under the age of 5. Worryingly, a study by All About Vision has shown that 41% of parents rarely, or even never, think about eye safety when they pick a toy for their children. At the same time, 54% of parents said that toys could ‘definitely’ cause harm to their children’s eyes and 22% said they possibly could. It is strange, therefore, that parents don’t consider it when they buy toys, particularly when injuries can lead to retinal detachment and corneal ulcers. So which toys should you most definitely avoid?
• Aerosol string
• Toy fishing poles
• Party foam
• Guns that shoot projectiles
• Water guns and water balloon launchers
• Toy wands, guns with bayonets, sabers, and swords.
• Bright flashlight and laser pointers
A list has been created by WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm), and they have released a list of the top 4 toys that could harm our children’s eyes:
• Hasbro’s Jurassic World Velociraptor Claws
• Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Leonardo Electronic Stealth Sword
• Imperial Toy LLC’s Zooma Splat X Smack Shot
• Jiefeng Toys’ Foam Dart Gun
These are the five things to avoid to keep your child’s eyes safe. Most of these are down to common sense, yet most parents do forget about them. Do also make sure you have your children’s eyes checked regularly. While some problems such as being cross eyed or having a lazy eye are very clearly visible, others, including short- and far-sightedness, are not. These can be easily picked up by an optician, however, so make a habit of having your kids’ eyes checked. Most importantly, you need to make sure that you don’t expose your children to additional risks and that, if you must expose them, they are properly protected at all times.
Resources and References:
How Can I Protect My Children from the Sun? – Suggestions on how to protect children’s eyes from the sun. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Eyes – Protecting Your Eyes – Information for kids on how they can protect their eyes. (Women’s and Children’s Health Network)
2015 “10 Worst Toy” List – Toys to avoid. (World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc.)