Protecting our own eyes is extremely important throughout our life. As parents it’s our job to ensure our children’s eyes stay healthy too. Children learn about their world through what they see. Unfortunately the very nature of being a child means that their eyes are more vulnerable to infection. A common complaint in childhood is conjunctivitis because it is so infectious. Good handwashing and a trip to the gp will help prevent and treat this. Our eyes are our windows to the outside world and looking after the health of our eyes will ensure that any problems can be identified and rectified.
It is recommended that children should have their first eye examination before school, following which our eyes should be examined at least annually by a qualified optician or eye specialist. Specialists not only look at correcting your vision with spectacles or contact lenses, they also look at the health of your eyes and will refer you for further examination by an ophthalmologist if necessary. Your child's eyes will probably be screened at school in the first year. This is to identify whether your child needs their vision correcting or if they are showing signs of astigmatism.
Children who have a family history of eye conditions may need extra screening, being aware of your family history regarding eye conditions will enable yourself and your eye specialist to be on the lookout for the conditions affecting yours and your child's eyes. Many eye conditions are hereditary. Conditions such as glaucoma need to be treated early either by medication or surgery. There has been a lot of progress in treating conditions in recent years.
Conditions such as cornea ectasia can now be treated by a procedure called corneal cross linking, which strengthens the cornea and stops it from changing shape.
Your child’s eyes need protecting from bright sunlight by the use of sunglasses with uv protection. Goggles with uv protection are also necessary for skiing as the combination of sunlight and white snow creates extremely bright conditions.
Give your child’s eyes the chance to rest and recover from the onslaught of technology. Try to monitor screen time and encourage teenagers to avoid being on their mobile phone for long periods of time, checking social media accounts or simply just surf the web!
School work is often completed on computers or tablets nowadays, which often means long periods of time looking at screens. A lot of children enjoy gaming as a hobby or watching TV, added together all these activities mean a huge amount of time staring at screens. Encourage regular breaks and time away from screens in the evenings if possible. Too much screen time can cause your child’s eyes to feel dry and gritty. Too much screen time can also cause headaches.
By following this advice and encouraging your child to eat a healthy well-balanced diet, your child’s eyes should remain in good health. For optimal eye health visit your eye specialist regularly and ensure your child’s diet consists of lots of leafy green vegetables, oily fish and carrots - yes the old wives tale did have some truth in it!