Protecting your child's vision is an important responsibility for parents. However, eye care often gets overlooked when parents are busy keeping up with other appointments. Fortunately, you can help your child preserve their vision by using this parent's guide to eye care.
Be Alert for Signs of Vision Problems
Vision problems can arise at any point during your child's life, and many of the most common issues are treatable when they are caught early. For instance, amblyopia, or lazy eye, can be corrected using a patch or special eye drops to strengthen the vision in your child's weak eye.
Depending on your child's age, you may also notice these warning signs of vision loss that let you know to schedule a vision exam:
- Rubbing their eyes frequently
- Sitting too close to computer or television screens
- Receiving poor grades on their report card
- Complaining of eye pain or frequent headaches
- Difficulty handling bright lights or sunshine
- Problems paying attention during learning times
- Holding books close to their face
- Different looking eyes
If you notice any of these warning sign with your child, then you should schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. Most of these issues are simple to address, and being able to see and focus makes a big difference in your child’s comfort and success at school.
Insist on Protective Eye Wear During Extracurricular Activities
Parents will often insist that their child wear a helmet or knee pads while playing sports, yet they fail to properly protect their kid's eyes. Find out what type of protective eyewear is available for your child's favorite activities, and make sure they wear it.
Protective eyewear, such as goggles during woodworking, help ensure that sharp objects do not penetrate your child's eye. In some instances, a helmet with an attached mask may be necessary to avoid blunt force trauma to your child's eye if they play sports such as football.
Watch for Signs of Infection
It is also possible for an eye infection to get so bad that it obscures your child's vision. Since conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is common during childhood, be alert for symptoms such as redness, tearing or swelling. If you spot the signs of infection, contact your child's eye doctor immediately.
Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Catching eye problems early is far easier when you work with a vision professional. Ideally, children should have an eye exam by the age of five, but younger children can also have their vision tested using special procedures designed for kids who cannot read yet.
During your child's vision exam, the optometrist will examine their eyes for signs of abnormalities such as crossed eyes. Then, the accuracy of your child's vision will be tested. If an issue is discovered, your child's optometrist will recommend the best course of treatment.
Choose Kid-Friendly Glasses
Fortunately, kids who require corrective lenses have tons of options today, which are more stylish and less likely to break. Work with your child's eyewear technician to find a pair made from break-resistant materials.
It is also helpful to involve your child in their eyewear selection as much as possible. Being able to pick out their favorite color or style of frames makes it more likely that your child will wear their glasses when they are away from your watchful eye.
Teach Older Kids Proper Contact Care
Once your kid is old enough to wear contacts, they must learn how to maintain their hygiene to prevent infections. Have your child demonstrate the care procedure to their optometrist, so they can offer suggestions for correction if needed.
After you return home with your child's contacts, set up a hygiene station where they can keep their cleaning supplies and case. Ideally, this should be in a place where you can check on them periodically to make sure that they are keeping up with care methods, such as overnight soaking.
Identifying and correcting vision issues early in your child's life gives them the best opportunity to learn and develop normally. When you have a concern, visit Harry W. Chan, OD—we make treating kids one of our specialties.