Image is from Specialty Eye Institute
Not many people are aware it exists, but August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. This is an important month because nationally, information is promoted that explains just how important it is to pay attention to a child’s eye health. Most people just wait for their child to come home from school with a note from their teacher explaining their child failed the school’s eye test and needs to obtain glasses. When really, there are a number of different conditions that can occur to the eye as a child develops and it is important to make sure regular checkups are scheduled either with an eye doctor or a pediatrician to ensure optimal eye health is being achieved.
Not being able to see the chalkboard or smart board in school can make for a challenging school year, but more importantly, vision should be checked to rule out other issues that could be going on. For example, many developmental delays and learning disabilities can be due to vision disturbances rather than brain development. A simple pair of glasses can sometimes be the fix that is needed and this is much simpler than needing additional tutoring or separate class instruction. There are some signs that parents can watch out for that indicate vision issues may be present and this includes:
-The child squints when trying to focus on something far away like the television or the road ahead while in the car.
-The child squints when trying to read a book or something that is close to them.
-The eyes seem very bloodshot or irritated after the course of a normal day.
-Eyes may appear watery.
-Headaches are very common amongst children who are having trouble seeing. –They can occur from squinting or simply from trying to focus on something that is giving them problems.
-One or both eyes may appear crossed.
In addition to making sure your child’s eyes are healthy and strong, making sure the eyes themselves are safe is also very important. When a child is playing sports or doing certain activities, protective eyewear can be beneficial to protect the eyes from harm. Physical injury to this very sensitive part of the body can be very hard to correct and can often lead to lifelong problems with one or both eyes. Eye surgery is not something you want your child to have to undergo. Physical injury to the eyes can occur not just during sports of activity but even during play at home. A small child can greatly damage the eye by tripping or falling while improperly holding an object as they move along. This is especially true with small toddlers who are just learning to navigate their way around and like to toddle around with their toys. While accidents happen, you want to prevent these situations from occurring as best as you can.
Eighty percent of education occurs by way of sight. With the new school year rapidly approaching, now is the time to ensure that your child’s eyes and healthy, safe and ready to be used for reading, learning and absorbing information. Don’t forget that once school starts, illnesses are usually on the rise and conditions such as pink eye are often running rampant. You want to make sure your child knows the importance of washing their hands and not touching their eyes. If you suspect there is an eye problem of any sort, you will want to make an appointment to have your child’s eyes examined. Infection can be present as well as refractive errors, astigmatism, strabismus and even color blindness.