How To Look After Your Child’s Eyes: Tips, Tricks & Warning Signs
By Space Coast Daily // April 24, 2021
Sight plays a vital role in your child’s development. From social skills to language learning, sight is one of the most important senses, providing the window for how we see and understand the world around us.
According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, there are more than 25,000 children suffering from at least one type of vision impairment in the UK. Vision impairment can significantly alter a child’s development, and pose unique challenges to learning that often need specialist attention.
This said, with durable nature and modern medicine, young people with vision impairment tend to lead easily adaptable lifestyles, and with specialist help, their own development will not differ from their peers.
According to Vispero, vision impairments are set to increase between now and 2050. If you’re concerned about your own child’s visual health, there are many ways to help aid their eyesight and protect them from future visual damage. We have collated our own selection of tips and tricks to help look after your little one’s eyes, and common warning signs to look out for when monitoring their visual health.
Common Warning Signs To Look Out For
Parents or family members are often the most likely to recognise changes in their child’s visual health from an early age. As your little one may not recognise symptoms of visual impairing conditions, it’s up to you to look out for early warning signs that they may display during early life.
When caught at a young age, most visual impairments can either be aided or prevented so it has never been more important to get your child’s eyes tested if you notice a deterioration in their eye health.
Long-sightedness is one of the most common visual impairments seen in younger eyes. Occurring when the eyeball is slightly too short, those suffering from long-sightedness can often struggle to see objects up close.
If your child is struggling with their learning development, take the time to observe their reading skills. Children with long-sighted vision often struggle to read at a younger age, which could be your first warning sign to take them to the optician.
Short-sightedness is also a very common visual impairment seen across children and younger people. Opposite to long-sightedness, those who have short-sighted vision have trouble seeing objects that are further away.
A great way to detect this as a parent is to monitor your child’s screen time. Are they sitting too close to the TV? Are they squinting during the family movie? These could all be signs of the common short-sighted visual impairment, which may mean that the kids may need eyeglasses. If you notice this issue at home, it’s also important to ask your child’s teacher if they have noticed them struggling to read the whiteboard in class, or become detached or distracted during learning periods.
If you suspect that your child may be short-sighted, take them to the opticians so a specialist can treat the condition with glasses or contacts to help aid future learning.
Difficulty Seeing Colours
If your child struggles to identify colours, this could indicate that they may be colour-blind. This can often be detected at school, as children with the condition often have trouble reading books or viewing images where a variety of colours are involved.
Colour blindness often goes undetected at an early age, so it is important to tell your optician about any worries you may have regarding your child’s ability to view colours. A recent study suggested that only 20% of children in the UK are given a colour vision deficiency test, making it all the more important to speak up if you suspect your child could be struggling.
How To Look After Your Child’s Eye Health
If your child currently has healthy eyes, it’s still important to keep them that way. Read on to find out our tips and tricks for boosting your child’s visual health for a future of strong sight.
Regular Eye Checkups
This is not only the most obvious but the most important step you can take in protecting your child’s visual health. Regular eye examinations will not only put your mind at rest as a parent but help prevent and protect your child from future visual impairments. Opticians are able to catch most eye-related health issues early in children and can often intervene to prevent further sight problems or aid the impairment to reduce visual struggle.
If a problem with your child’s eyesight is detected, there are various types of glasses and vision boosting therapies that an ophthalmologist can prescribe to help strengthen the eyes from a young age and reduce the need for visual aids in the future.
Vision Boosting Foods
It’s easy to forget that consuming a healthy diet not only improves general wellbeing and fitness but can also help to boost vision. We’ve all heard about eating carrots to help you see in the dark, but in all seriousness, there are a range of vision boosting foods that should be a must-have in your child’s diet to help protect and strengthen their eyes.
Green leafy foods, eggs and yellow coloured vegetables are all good sources of vitamin A which is an important nutrient known for contributing to ocular health. Foods rich in vitamin A are great staples to cook into meals, packed full of beta-carotene for the ultimate no-fuss vision boost.
It’s also important to encourage your child to drink more water. Hydration is essential for maintaining eye health as it contributes to the cleaning process and all-around function and reactivity of the eyeball. Depending on their age, it’s recommended that a child drinks at least 4 glasses of water a day to retain healthy eye function.
Educate Your Child About Eye Health
As your child begins to grow up, it’s imperative that they learn how to take care of their visual health. By simply explaining the dangers of UV light and the effects of not protecting their eyes when engaging in games or sports, your child will gain important skills in managing and prioritising their own eye health.
For example, it’s important to teach them to wear helmets and protective goggles when engaging in sports and outdoor activities. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 90% of eye injuries in children can be prevented with protective goggles.
For the little ones who love the outdoors, it’s also important to teach your child about eye-related UV damage. Encouraging your child to wear sunglasses when out in the sun is a great way to protect them from harmful UV rays that can cause macular degeneration or cataracts in the future.
Limit Screen Time
In 2021 it’s no surprise that the younger generation is suffering from more screen-related eye problems than ever before. With the rise of the smartphone and the new gaming consoles that continue to hit the market, it’s important to limit screen time to help reduce eye strain in younger children.
Some tips to integrate into your child’s daily routine include introducing the 20-20-20 rule, which consists of looking 20 feet away, for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to reduce eye strain when watching a screen for a long period of time.
For online learning and long periods of screen use, why not also try blue light glasses to help reduce the impact of screen glare. Blue light protection not only assists your child’s visual health but can prevent them from suffering from screen-related headaches and fatigue.
If you have any concerns about the health of your child’s vision, it is always best to speak to a specialist or take a simple trip to the optician. Nearly all adolescent visual impairments can be treated, making it more important than ever to make sure your child has the best visual ability as they continue to flourish.