Promoting Children’s Eye Health

Kids are back to school with all the necessary supplies. Fall sports are underway with all the required gear. It’s a positive start to the school year, ready to be the best one yet.Children's Safety Glasses

To make sure that happens, take time to consider your children’s eye health too since roughly 80% of what a child learns in school is information presented visually. Add to this the fact that there are 42,000 sports-related eye injuries each year, and the majority of them happen to children.

For these reasons, take time to promote good eye health for your children.

10 Ways to Promote Good Eye Health for Your Child

  1. See the pediatrician yearly. Experts agree that eye exams performed during well-child visits help detect problems with a child’s eye health, allowing for early treatment.
  2. Consider family history. Since nearsightedness, color blindness, and lazy eye (amblyopia) are often inherited, consider family history when assessing your children’s vision health.
  3. Get an eye exam before 1st grade. More than 12 million children suffer from vision impairment, that’s 25% of school-aged children with vision problems. Get your child’s first eye exam before entering 1st grade & then regularly after to help detect & treat impairments early.
  4. Let go of common myths. Sitting too close to the TV will damage your eyes and eating a lot of carrots will improve your eyesight are common myths about children’s eye health. Educate yourself about Children’s Eye Health Myths and Facts to make sure your efforts are focused in the best way possible.
  5. Understand the relationship between vision & learning. While the more obvious signs of vision problems in children, such as not being able to see the chalkboard, are usually detected fairly easily, learning-related vision problems often are not. Realizing that a child struggling in school may have a learning-related vision problem may be the key some parents need to truly helping their children succeed. Take time to understand types of learning-related vision problems and their symptoms, especially if your child seems to be struggling with no obvious reason why.
  6. Remember sports safety. Since the majority of sports-related eye injuries happen to children, wearing protecting eyewear while participating in sports or recreational activities is a must. Make sure safety eyewear fits the child and the activity properly.
  7. Make sure kids wear sunglasses. Dr. Mark Borchert, division head of The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital LA says, “The lens of a child allows 70% more UV rays to reach the retina than in an adult. Learn the basics of sun safety to protect not only your child’s skin but eyes as well.
  8. Encourage a healthy diet. The best ways to do this include setting a good health example and make healthy options available at home, especially vegetables and dark leafy greens that contain many eye-healthy vitamins and minerals. In addition, talk to your doctor about a good multivitamin for children.
  9. Promote safety around the home. The Importance of Good Eye Safety Habits becomes clear when you realize that 45% of eye injuries happen in the home with many of those happening to children. Take time to be safe while working and playing at home, and this begins with having safety glasses available for everyone.
  10. Be aware of symptoms of vision problems. From poor performance in school and difficulty paying attention to headaches, eye pain and trouble seeing information on a chalk board, knowing the common symptoms of vision problems in children as well as their associated disorders can go a long way in detecting and treating problems early.

Children can’t always tell if there is something wrong with their eyes. They simply accept what they see as normal. Having parents who educate themselves on children’s eye health is important for detecting and treating vision problems early. In addition, taking steps to ensure good eye health through diet and safety measures adds another level of protection for a lifetime of healthy vision.

Eye Injury by Age Group

Eye InjuryProjectile objects and flying debris represent about 18% of all reported eye injuries, with blunt object injuries making up just over 13% of injuries. In third place comes injury caused by fingers, fists and other body parts (10%). And in fourth place at about 9% is injury from sharp objects such as a fishhook or glass shard.

In case you weren’t counting, we’ve just accounted for 50% of all reported injuries. The remaining 50% comes from a variety of causes including sports equipment, automobile airbags, paintballs, bb guns, pellet guns, furniture, household chemicals, firearms, and fireworks.

As reported in Who Is At Risk for Greatest Eye Injury? almost half of the 2.5 million eye injuries reported annually occur in individuals ages 18-45. Many of the same type of injuries, primarily the ones listed above, occur as much in the over-45 age group as in the 18-45 age group. But, less injuries occur overall in the older group probably due to increased caution and decreased activity and risk that usually accompanies aging.

The second largest age group (25%) receiving the most eye injuries are children. Even more specifically, older teens and young adults in their late twenties present the highest numbers of eye injuries. Of the total number of injuries, 73% of them are received by males.

While older teens and young adults represent the highest number, no one remains exempt from receiving an eye injury. The article Children Need Eye Protection Too details the hazards facing young children with regard to eye injury as well as gives measures for preventing injury in the first place.

So that leaves one group yet to cover with regard to risk for eye injury… the elderly. In this age group, falls cause the most eye injuries. More specifically, loss of balance resulting in falls.

Preventing injuries caused from falls starts with a visit to the doctor to address any health issues. Then, make sure an individual’s home provides sturdy support structures for moving about and that paths for everyday activities are safe and clear.

While we know that 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented using protective eyewear and that every home should have at least one pair of safety glasses, we need to realize that eye injury prevention also comes through making the environment itself safer as well.

This means realizing that most eye injuries take place at home and then doing what we can to prevent eye injuries in the home. This also means making sure the age of individuals in a home is taken into consideration and appropriate measures follow based on that information, especially when young children or the elderly are involved.