Childhood is a great time to establish healthy habits. That’s why we’ve compiled 6 habits that parents can teach their kids to promote healthy vision for a lifetime.
1. Good Hand Hygiene
Regular handwashing is the best way to reduce the spread of germs. Keeping kids’ hands clean will minimize the amount of bacteria, viruses and other microbes that can enter their eyes and wreak havoc.
Teach your child to wash their hands every time they return home from school or the park, after they use the bathroom and before eating. It’s important to remind them not to rub their eyes, even when their hands are clean.
If your child is frequently rubbing their eyes, it could be due to eye allergies or other conditions that your optometrist should address.
2. Eat the Rainbow
Including a wide variety of [colorful] fruits and veggies in your child’s diet will help support healthy eyes and vision.
Think red peppers, orange carrots, yellow squash, and green broccoli. Some eye-healthy proteins to consider are eggs, fatty fish, lean red meat and poultry.
3. Protect Their Eyes
Whether it’s ultraviolet light from the sun, a hockey puck, or a pair of scissors, a child’s environment is full of eye hazards. The best way to prevent an eye injury is to always wear eye protection like protective glasses or goggles when participating in activities that pose a threat to eye safety.
For time spent outdoors, make sure your child has a quality pair of sunglasses that block 100% of UV light. Children’s eyes are more susceptible to sun damage because the lens of their eye is clearer than adult lenses, allowing more sunlight to enter. Teach your child to never look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses, as doing so can damage the eyes.
4. Limit Screen Time
For optimal eye health, try limiting your child’s daily screen time to 2 hours per day. When your child is doing any near work, including staring at a digital screen, remind them to shift their gaze away from the screen every 20 minutes or so, for about 20 seconds. Ideally, they should focus on something at least 20 feet away.
5. Enough Sun Time
Research has shown that children who spend less time in the sunlight are more susceptible to becoming nearsighted. Childhood myopia (nearsightedness) is a known risk factor for developing serious eye diseases in adulthood.
Children should ideally have around 2 hours of sun time per day. Make it a habit to use sunblock, wear sunglasses, pack a water bottle and sun hat for all-around protection.
6. Regular Eye Exams
No matter what healthy practices you establish with your kids, children still need regular visits with an optometrist.
Children should have a comprehensive eye exam yearly to make sure their eyesight is clear and that their vision is developing normally. It’s important to note that vision screenings, such as those offered in schools or by pediatricians, don’t replace the experience and care of an eye doctor!
To schedule your child’s annual eye exam and learn more about the services we offer, call Southern Eyecare Associates in Norfolk today!
- A:Many children are exposed to numerous screens throughout the day. Whether it’s a phone, tablet or laptop, staring at a screen too long can cause computer vision syndrome (CVS), even in children. To protect their eyes from the uncomfortable symptoms of CVS like headaches, eye fatigue and blurry vision, ask your optometrist whether computer glasses are right for your child.
- A:The most common eye problems that children face today include refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism), amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), nystagmus, pediatric cataracts and genetic eye diseases. At your child’s next visit, let your optometrist know of any eye diseases or conditions that run in your family.
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