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10 Ways to improve your child’s vision

Although some eye conditions in childhood cannot be prevented, there are ways to improve and protect your child's vision.

Your child’s vision enables them to perceive the world. However, it also contributes significantly to their development. If your child has uncorrected vision issues, it may hinder their ability to learn and realise their fullest potential. A routine eye check-up is essential for maintaining healthy eyes.

Did you know that about 253 million people in the world have vision loss; 36 million of which are blind, with 217 million having moderate or severe visual impairment?

Because many vision disorders begin at a young age, you should ensure that your child receives frequent eye check-ups to maintain healthy eyes.

You can do much to safeguard your child’s growing eyesight. In light of World Sight Day later this week(13-14 October), Affinity Health provides ways to protect your child’s vision.

Vision tests and eye examinations

As your child grows, their eyes may undergo rapid changes. Your child’s paediatrician will likely evaluate their vision during routine examinations. If they detect indicators of a vision problem, they may recommend that your child get a complete eye check with an ophthalmologist.

What is the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam?

A vision screening is a brief eye exam for your child. It can be administered by a general practitioner, a paediatrician, a school nurse, or another health care provider. Although it can assist in identifying possible vision problems your child may be experiencing, it cannot diagnose the precise issue.

On the other hand, an eye doctor — a specialist known as an ophthalmologist or optometrist — conducts a full eye exam. The eye doctor can identify and treat your child’s medical or eyesight condition.

“A vision test should not replace a thorough eye examination. Even if your child passes a vision screening, they should visit an eye doctor at least once a year to evaluate their eyes’ overall health,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“If you have concerns about your child’s eyesight, ask their paediatrician for assistance in locating an eye doctor. Early detection and treatment are essential for safeguarding your child’s eyesight.”

Frequent vision issues in children

Make an appointment with an eye doctor if you observe your child squinting, wiping their eyes, having difficulties concentrating, or complaining of headaches after completing schoolwork.

If your child has a visual problem, they may have trouble identifying letters and written words, which can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. After an eye exam and therapy, several studies have observed gains in learning, testing, class participation, behaviour, and self-confidence.

Tips for safeguarding your child’s eyesight

Eye check-ups at every age and stage of life can help maintain healthy eyesight. Take care of your child’s vision like you would the rest of their body.

Provide health foods

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can aid in the protection of your child’s vision. Fruits and vegetables contain numerous essential vitamins and minerals for maintaining healthy eyes and vision. Consider that your children look up to you. If you add nutritious meals to your plate, you will serve as a model for them to emulate.

Reduce screen time

Increased screen time can exacerbate uncorrected vision issues. Limiting your child’s daily screen time and encouraging them to take frequent breaks when using digital devices will help safeguard their eyesight. Taking frequent rests is also recommended when children are performing other near-vision tasks, such as reading, writing, and drawing.

Encourage healthy sleep habits

Insufficient sleep can hinder your child’s eyes’ ability to recover from everyday eye strain and environmental irritants such as dry air, allergies, and pollutants.

Let your child spend time outdoors

Many children engage in near-vision activities for hours every day. Like other muscles in the body, the eye muscles require relaxation time. Allowing your child plenty of outdoor play, where they can focus on distant things, allows their eyes time to recover from strain.

Invest in a pair of sunglasses for children

Long-term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause damage to the eyes. Ensure that your child wears sunglasses with 100% UV protection for optimal protection. When your child goes outside to play in the sun, ensure they wear sunglasses.

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays have a cumulative effect and excessive sun exposure as a child could result in cataracts and macular degeneration in adulthood.

Ensure your child uses protective glasses

About 90% of childhood eye injuries can be avoided by ensuring that your child wears protective eyewear when participating in sports or other activities to prevent eye damage.

If your child participates in swimming or lacrosse, goggles and face masks help protect their eyes. Do not allow your child to play with unsafe toys; keep cupboards locked to protect them from ingesting cleaning products or pesticides.

Reduce ocular infections

Even the tiniest eye irritations can impair eyesight. Teach your child not to touch their eyes to prevent the transfer of bacteria from their fingertips to their eyes.

If your child uses contact lenses, tell them to only clean or replace them as directed and to use the proper lens cleaning solution. Effective lens maintenance reduces the incidence of eye infections significantly.

Promote healthy eating and exercise

Some meals can boost the eye health of your child. Consider consuming fruits, vegetables, and seafood that are abundant in vitamins A, C, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc.

In addition to eating well, your youngster should engage in regular physical activity. Exercise maintains blood and oxygen circulation throughout the body, which is essential for eye health.

Restrict screen usage

Your child is exposed to blue light from computer games, YouTube videos, and constant texting, which can cause digital eye strain.

Digital eye strain can result in headaches, vision blurring, dry eyes, and other discomforts. Limit your child’s screen time on computers, tablets, and other digital devices to avoid digital eye strain.

Have some fun

Your child’s eyesight can benefit from various activities, such as hand-and-eye coordination games as an infant and putting together a puzzle with you as an adult.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) suggests the following activities to improve eyesight for various age groups:

  • 0-5 months: peekaboo and patty-cake
  • 6 to 8 months: reading and playing hide-and-seek with toys.
  • 9-12 months: reading and rolling a ball back and forth with your child.
  • One year: tossing a ball and reading to your child.
  • Two years: reading to your child, playing catch and other outside activities.
  • Ages 3 to 6: climbing, running, and playground equipment use.
  • Seven and older: cycling and other physical activities.

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