Protect Your Child’s Vision: 8 Eye Care Tips Parents Should Follow
Children normally start to see shapes during the first six months of life. Halfway through their first year, their eyes reach two-thirds the size of that of an adult’s. By then, the eye muscles strengthen as kids take in the world around them.
During his preschool years, your child’s vision will continue to develop until it becomes as clear as it can get. As a parent, it is your responsibility to help keep your child’s vision that way.
From making him rest his eyes to buying him the best computer glasses for kids, here are eight eye care tips you can use to protect your child’s vision:
1. Schedule Eye Rest
Children tend to forget the time when they’re immersed in what they’re doing on their phone, tablet, computer, or even on paper. However, rest is crucial for eye health.
For every 30 to 40 minutes of writing and reading, experts recommend taking regular breaks. This also applies to activities involving electronic devices, such as computers, tablets, and mobile phones (more on this later).
One way to do this is to set a reminder or alarm to let your child know when it’s time for a break. Once the allowed time is up, make sure that he stops whatever he is doing and closes his eyes for a short while.
Although some people believe that looking at something green helps the eyes rest, there is no scientific evidence that supports this. Instead, it is believed to be based on the fact that green is in the midrange color in the visual spectrum and is the “easiest” to detect.
So instead of looking at the lawn or a green wall, let your child take a nap. There’s no better way to rest those peepers than by not using them for a little while.
2. Follow the Recommended Age-Appropriate Screen Time
Take note of the specific ranges on the allowable screen time for children of different ages recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This is usually about less than one hour to two hours per day.
Entertainment media like television should be avoided for babies and toddlers below two years of age. Since the brain is developing rapidly during this time, interacting with people instead of screens would be best for their development.
For older kids, one hour in front of a screen per day should be the maximum. This way, you can maintain not only their eye health but also their sleep and physical activity.
Speaking of sleep, make sure that your child isn’t exposed to any video screen before bed. Babies below 18 months should never be exposed to screens at all.
It would be better to encourage outdoor games and other activities like arts and crafts. If it’s time for your child’s favorite TV show, make sure that he observes the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, aim to look 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds.
3. Maintain a Safe Distance from Screens
Besides the length of exposure to the screen, your child’s viewing distance from the television or tablet is also a contributing factor to eye strain.
You have to make him sit a good distance away from the TV or tablet. This varies depending on the size of the screen. For example, if you have a 40-inch television, watching should be within the recommended range of five to 8.33 feet to avoid eye strain. Don’t forget to keep the room well-lit.
4. Include Eye-Friendly Foods in His Diet
Your child’s healthy diet should include foods that foster optimal eye health. This includes egg, fish, meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Yellow and green leafy veggies, in particular, contain plenty of Vitamin A that helps maintain ocular health.
Fresh and homemade foods are generally better than processed foods as well. Steer clear of junk foods.
Ensure that he consumes a mixed diet so that he has access to all the essential vitamins and minerals. This keeps his vision clear and ensures that he grows into a healthy adult with as few eyesight problems as possible.
5. Discourage Eye Rubbing
Kids often rub their eyes, especially if foreign bodies come into contact with them or they’re experiencing some eye irritation. However, this practice may lead to more harm.
You see, rubbing may damage the cornea and cause foreign particles to scratch it. It can also pass germs from the hands to the eyes and result in conditions like conjunctivitis.
That said, be sure to remind your child not to do this. Instead, have him wash his eyes with cool water to relieve irritation. Also, make sure he practices proper hand hygiene to keep his hands clean in case he subconsciously touches his peepers.
6. Protect from UV Rays
Sun protection isn’t just for the skin – it is also necessary for your little one’s eyes. Invest in a good pair of children’s sunglasses to help keep his eyes safe from the damaging rays of the sun. Make sure it has UV protection.
For very young children, umbrellas and hats may be better choices. This way, there won’t be any risk of them poking their eyes with the sunglasses by accident.
7. Make Them Wear Eye Protection
Activities like sports and games require a bit more eye protection than your average casual eyewear to prevent eye injuries. If your child participates in such activities, make sure he wears the appropriate eyewear with UV filters (and tell him not to look directly at the sun). Sports goggles and helmets are crucial, too.
But if your primary concern is eye strain due to screen time, there are plenty of Al Jaber computer glasses available online that your child can choose from. Pick one that fits his face and eyes well. Computer glasses are specifically made to alleviate the effects of screen exposure with their tint that boosts viewing contrast and anti-reflective coating that reduces glare.
8. Get His Eyes Checked Regularly
Vision screenings should be conducted regularly, starting at infancy and throughout their pre-school and school years. This is recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to ensure their visual development. This will also help parents know whether their child requires prescription glasses, and if there are issues that must be corrected early on.
Good Vision for a Better Future
Good eyesight is an important factor in your child’s development. Make sure you protect your little one’s vision to give him a better future.
Firas Saab is the Training Manager at Al Jaber Optical in Dubai, the leading optical and eyewear company in the UAE that offers a comprehensive range of eyewear and optical services across the board, through a wide range of modern optical products and facilities. Firas is an enthusiastic trainer with more than a decade in the retail and optical industry and has recently acquired HND in Business and Management in addition to his Optical qualifications.