As a parent, your child’s vision is of utmost importance. However, many parents and caregivers don’t realize just how to protect their little one’s eyesight. By making a few adjustments and adding an extra layer of protection when you’re outside, you can help improve and safeguard your child’s eyes.
Many parents don’t realize the impact of screen time.
Television, movies, video games, and handheld devices can have a big impact on a kid’s vision.
Although most parents acknowledge the negative consequences of too much screen time, many are unaware that a child’s eyesight can be greatly impacted by screens.
Excessive screen time has both short-term and long-term consequences for a child. A reliance on screens can cause myopia (nearsightedness) and other vision problems later in life. Outdoor exercise and exposure to natural light can benefit a child’s eye development. Balancing screen time and outdoor playtime can have lifelong health benefits, including lowering the risk of eye problems.
On average, kids should spend 2 hours outdoors each day.
Diet is important for eye health.
Your child’s vision can be greatly impacted by their diet. Choose foods that contain at least one vitamin that is beneficial for eye health. Fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts contain vitamins and nutrients that can help with vision development.
Here are a few foods that can help boost their eyesight and overall health:
1. Leafy greens
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and lettuce have high levels of the carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. These elements act as antioxidants that protect against macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts as your child grows and develops.
Carrots are perhaps the most well-known food to protect eyesight. They contain high levels of beta-carotene that promote healthy function of the eye’s components and improve the structural integrity of the eye.
Eggs are beneficial for eyesight because they are rich in Vitamin A, which is known to help prevent dry eyes and nighttime vision issues.
Fish are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Choose fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, or other deep-water varieties because the omega 3 fatty acids they contain can help with dry eyes by maintaining lubrication.
Berries such as strawberries and raspberries have high levels of Vitamin C, which can boost your kid’s immune system and prevent eye infections.
6. Citrus fruits
Similar to berries, citrus fruits like oranges are rich in Vitamin C, which is known to be useful to the immune system and may help ward off potential infections of the eyes.
Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain high levels of Vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant that protects kids’ eyesight. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin E can protect the body’s cells against free radicals. Kids should eat foods that naturally contain Vitamin E. Some studies show that eating nuts on a daily basis can be a helpful way to treat myopia.
Beef contains high levels of zinc, which helps move Vitamin A from your child’s liver to their retinas. This is important for producing the pigment melanin, which boosts the eye’s photoreceptors and prevents night blindness.
Your child should have regular eye exams.
Eye exams are recommended from infancy onward.
Scheduling a vision test for your infant can help doctors address issues early and give your child a better chance of getting treatment to stop any progression of the issue. A doctor can examine a baby’s vision development and check for vision abnormalities or other related problems.
Your child should have several eye exams before he starts elementary school.
It is recommended to get your kid’s eyes checked around 3-4 years of age and again before they start elementary school. Basic vision tests can be included in your child’s annual well-child exam, and parents might be referred to a specialist if any visual problems are detected.
Annual exams can be useful as well. If there is a family history of eye problems, it is even more important for kids to get regular eye exams.
Parents can model essential behaviors for keeping the eyes healthy.
Caregivers should regularly check their baby or child for any haziness or clouding in the pupil. Watch your baby for crossed eyes (which can still be normal) or eyes that are turned out. Potential issues in the way your child’s vision is developing are sometimes observed first in the home. Monitor your child for any abnormal behavior and report to the pediatrician.
Caregivers should also model how to protect your eyes from the sun. Provide sun protection during your child’s outdoor exercise and playtime. UV-coated lenses, sun shelters and tents, or wide-brimmed hats can be effective ways to protect a young child’s visual health.
Although playing sports are a great form of exercise for kids, it is important to ensure that your children are wearing appropriate athletic gear, such as a helmet, hat, or face mask, to protect the eyes.
Give your baby plenty of visual stimulation through toys, books, and exploration. Hanging toys are a great way for your baby to search out items and observe them. Experiment with light and dark, or buy books or flashcards that are black and white. These eye exercises can help your little one’s vision develop properly.
Protect your children’s eyesight and set your kids up for a lifetime of healthy vision.
Great eye health starts at home, so be sure to model behaviors and habits that will help your little one’s eyesight. Practice good eye care, get regular exams, and protect the eyes from too much screen time. Healthy habits are formed at home!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.