14 Jul 10 Easy-to-Teach Natural Eye Care Tips for Children
Teaching simple and natural eye care tips for children can go a long way in protecting their eyes from harm. Share this with your kids.
We may not think consciously about it, but it’s very important to teach our children eye care so they develop a lifetime of healthy vision habits.
Here are ten natural eye care tips to share with your children so they grow up practicing healthy eye care to protect their precious vision.
Eye care tip 1: Take a break and head outside!
Too much uninterrupted time hunched over computers, video games, social media, and books take a toll on your child’s eyes. They contribute to a worldwide problem with myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) says 41.6 percent of the U.S. population ages 12-54 was myopic as of 2004. @Invisalens.
Eye doctors and pediatricians highly recommend that children increase their outdoor playtime. Getting out there and playing with your kids is also healthy for parents!
Eye care tip 2: Common sense eye protection: Do not run around with sharp objects!
These tips are so obvious, we’re almost embarrassed to mention them. That’s okay. If we can save any child from a serious eye injury, we’re happy: Avoid buying toys with sharp points or edges. Projectile toys can cause damage if they hit the eye, no matter how soft they seem.
And, the rule we all remember from kindergarten: Teach your child to walk—not run!—when holding sharp objects such as pencils, pens, or scissors.
Eye care tip 3: More lighting, less glare
Remind him to always study with enough light. Improper lighting can strain the eyes. Provide your child an area with adequate lighting that’s free from glare for homework, reading, or watching TV. Turn on extra lighting for close-up work, and don’t wait till it gets too dark to turn on the lights!
Eye care tip 4: Teach your child how to tell if he has vision problems—and to let you know immediately.
Lots of children have vision problems but may not recognize them as such. Here are some signs that your child has vision problems that you must teach him to report to you (and his teacher) immediately:
- If he has sore, hot, tired, twitchy, or stinging eyes
- If he can’t see the blackboard/whiteboard or computer screen and textbook clearly
- If he often has headaches
- If he feels fatigued when playing sports
- If he feels fatigued while in a moving vehicle
- If he can’t copy from the blackboard
- If he looks up from his work to find everything looks blurred or misty
Eye care tip 5: Be on the lookout yourself for common symptoms of vision problems
Your child may or may not be forthcoming with the symptoms listed above, so it’s important that you also observe him closely for these signs of vision problems he may not be able to tell you outright:
- He’s squinting often
- He can’t differentiate colors
- He keeps losing track of what he is reading or copying
- He needs to hold the book close to his face to be able to read it
- He watches TV inches away from his face
If you observe any of these telltale signs, talk to your child about them and probe him. Tell him what you’re seeing and ask directly if he is experiencing vision problems. Encourage him to pay attention to his vision and to please speak up.
Pay attention to his performance at school, too. Poor grades may also be an indicator that your child’s eyes are not working properly.
If you suspect a problem, book an appointment ASAP with your eye doctor. Be sure to let your child’s teacher know if your child has any vision problems so she can make any necessary adjustments in the classroom. In fact, your child’s teacher should also be your ally in spotting the above-mentioned signs of vision problems while your kid is in school and away from your watchful eyes.
Eye care tip 6: Make kids realize the importance of eye exams to eye care
Your child’s eye health is just as important as the rest of his well-being, so if you have a pediatrician, so should you have a trusted pediatric eye doctor, also. And the first thing your pediatric eye doctor will do is perform an eye exam. Experts recommend that your child must have his first eye exam when he’s between six months and three years. When you make seeing the eye doctor a regular occurrence (like regular pediatrician visits), you’re teaching your child a lifetime habit of caring for his eyes.
Do not substitute a proper eye examination with a visual screening test (the kind usually performed at your child’s school). Visual screening tests do not include a pressure test, a slit lamp examination, a dilated fundus examination, or tests for ocular alignment or color vision. These are all important tests to ensure your child’s eyes are healthy, and if not, to diagnose the problem and present treatment options.
Some eye problems run in the family. Children whose parents have vision problems should see the eye doctor more often, as likely they will need close monitoring and extra eye care. Explain any family eye conditions for which he is at risk. Include symptoms/warning signs that he should watch out for as he grows.
Eye care tip 7: Exercise your eyes!
Reading, writing, using a computer, or staring at the TV/phone screen can make your child’s eyes feel dry and tired. @Invisalens
Teach your child to help keep their eyes healthy by exercising them. Here are a few fun moves your kids will enjoy:
- Let eyes take a break every 20 minutes.
- Look away from the page or screen and slowly blink 10 times.
- Close eyes and slowly roll the eyeballs clockwise twice, then two times counterclockwise.
- Look to the left then to the right two times with eyes closed, then do the same looking up and down. Move eyes slowly.
- Look at something farther away and focus on it while counting to 10. Then look at the screen or page while counting to 10. Do this five times.
Eye care tip 8: Sunglasses are more than an accessory
Most of us know about UV rays and protecting our own eyes from the sun. So why do we see so many children without sunglasses? It’s not like we don’t understand the harmful effects of sun exposure. We’re super vigilant about applying sunscreen to our kids. I imagine you do encourage your child to wear sunglasses whenever he is outside. But I would also bet that your child simply refuses, right? Well, parents, it’s time for some tough sunglass love.
Buy sunglasses that offer 100% protection from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun, and avoid buying toy sunglasses, even for toddlers. Also have your child wear a hat with a wide brim to block sunlight from overhead.
Eye care tip 9: Be aware—and never share
This natural eye care tip may at first be difficult to implement, but it is absolutely essential. Impress upon your child to wear only his own glasses/contact lenses, as the lens prescription is specific to him. Never borrow these items from someone else or share them with friends. It’s very important to use any prescription ointments or eye drops exactly as prescribed. Failing to do so will make his vision problem worse and may lead to other complications/conditions.
This category also includes helping your child take responsibility for his own glasses/contact lenses. We understand how frustrating—and expensive—lost or broken glasses/lenses can be for parents. Exactly how you choose to handle this issue with your child is up to you, but it’s fairly common and must be among the top eye care tips for children.
If your child seems uncomfortable about wearing eyeglasses, listen and be sensitive to his concerns. There may be alternative correction options that offer more freedom and less social awkwardness. (See orthokeratology below.)
Eye care tip 10: Take myopia detection and treatment seriously
Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, usually appears in childhood and progresses in severity from there. @Invisalens
In today’s digital landscape of constant computers, smartphones, etc., the incidence is practically epidemic. The best way to take advantage of methods to control myopia is to detect nearsightedness early. Even if your child is not complaining of vision problems (nearsighted kids often are excellent students and have no visual complaints when reading or doing other schoolwork), it’s important to schedule routine eye exams for him.
If your child has been diagnosed with myopia, you’re probably wondering if there is a cure—or at least something that can be done to slow its progression so he doesn’t need stronger glasses/contact lenses year after year or develop serious often-related eye problems like cataracts or glaucoma.
Although an outright cure for nearsightedness has not been discovered, your eye doctor can now offer a number of treatments to slow its progression. One of the best ways to control myopia in children is orthokeratology or Vision Improvement Therapy (VIT), which offers added benefits for kids who are reluctant to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses in public.
Orthokeratology is the use of specially designed gas permeable contact lenses that are worn at night to temporarily correct nearsightedness and other vision problems. With Vision Improvement Therapy lenses, your child can go to sleep and wake up to clear vision in the morning without the need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses! Vision Improvement Therapy (VIT) is definitely something that wouldn’t be hard to get your kid to wear faithfully, since he will do so in his sleep.
Increasingly, eye doctors are using VIT lenses like Invisalens® to control myopia progression in children. See our review of orthokeratology lenses here. Evidence suggests nearsighted kids who undergo several years of orthokeratology may end up with less myopia as adults, compared with children who wear eyeglasses or regular contact lenses during the peak years for myopia progression.
Many eye care practitioners refer to these lenses as “corneal reshaping lenses” or “corneal refractive therapy (CRT)” lenses rather than VIT lenses, though the lens designs may be similar. Whatever you want to call it, if your child has myopia, be sure to ask your eye doctor about it.
Now you know what you can do to teach your children natural eye care tips to help protect their vision and maintain healthy eyes for a lifetime.
Dr. Page’s own vision struggles helped propel him into the optometry field. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of South Dakota and a Doctor of Optometry from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, he launched his career in Phoenix.