Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Children's Eye Health and Safety Month

eye health
Keep Those Blue Eyed Beauties Healthy!
August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month.  This coincides nicely with children going back to school making sure their eye health is the best it can be for school.   

Eye health is important because a child who has problems paying attention in class simply may be a result of the student having trouble seeing, not because they don't want to learn.  

Visually impaired students may get easily frustrated during class thus giving up on their school work.  Why would they want to try and do something if they are not able to see what is going on?  If there is a problem, often times students won't say anything either because of embarrassment of needing glasses or they may not feel socially confident.   This may cause them to struggle in school, sports, and especially in reading.  

Signs of Eye Problems
Knowing that your child has good eye health and is not visually impaired is sometimes hard to know.  If a child has had bad eyesight since birth they may not notice the difference and therefore are not prone to saying anything. Studies show that at birth, 25% of infants are near-sighted, 50% are far-sighted, and 25% need no refractive correction.  It is up to you as a parent to notice the signs of poor eyesight and get children an annual eye test with an optometrist.  Here are some common signs you may observe if your child has eye problems or any eye conditions that need to be addressed.
  • Squinting 
  • Constant blinking
  • Seeing double
  • One eye turning in
  • Rubbing the eyes constantly
  • Losing focus easily when they are reading
  • Getting frequent headaches
  • Constantly losing their place when reading 
Some of you may be wondering what is visually impaired?  Being visually impaired can range from having a partial problem in seeing to blindness.  Some people are born with it and others become sight impaired over time.  Still others may have suffered eye injuries or diseases of the eyes that caused vision problems.

Keeping Your Child's Eyes Healthy

In my preschool, I had a three year old that was constantly squinting in class, but never complained that he couldn't see.  His parents took him to the eye doctor for an eye exam and sure enough they found out that he was visually impaired and needed glasses.  When he came to school for the first time wearing his glasses I asked if he could see better and he said "Everything is SOOOOO crisp now Mrs. Marci!!!"  First I started laughing because of the word he used to describe how well he could see; and then I smiled from ear to ear knowing that he was so excited to see like his other friends.  Instead of the glasses giving him a complex like most people may think; it did the complete opposite.  He was more confident.  He was just happy to see and nothing else mattered.  All the kids thought he was so cool because he got to wear glasses and even a few kids went home asking to get glasses, too.  Not to mention he sure looked cute in them.

As your child gets older you need to stay up on their eye exams.  By age 10, the percentages drops to 8% on nearsighted , 6% farsighted, and 86% need no refractive correction.  This is awesome, however your child may be that small percent much like our oldest.  We took her for her yearly eye exam when she was 12 and found out that she had a slight astigmatism.  We thought this was odd since her father and I have perfect 20/20 vision.  So don't think because your eyesight is good that your child's will be good, too.  We are living proof that it isn't always true.  Now by the age of 15, they change again and the percentages rise to 15%, 6%, and 79% respectively.  It is very important to have annual eye exams to make sure your child is seeing correctly.

The eyes are very complex and need to be protected at all times to prevent eye injury.  With children that can be difficult since they just love to be rough and tough; and they have no fear.  There are several different kinds of eye injuries and diseases that can cause a child to become blind or sight impaired.  The most common injuries that your child may get is a scratch to the eye or eyelid or maybe a black eye, which is usually caused by innocent playing and not paying attention to what they are doing.  More extreme injuries include a scratch or injury to the cornea called corneal abrasion, a lodged object into the eye, hyphema or blood in the front part of the eye, a broken bone surrounding the eye, chemical burns,or long term UV radiation.  Some of the more extreme injures can be prevented if you teach children about eye protection and you are more cautious at an early age.   Here are some suggestions that may help.
  • Wear glasses when in the sun.
  • Wear safety goggles if they are in the garage working with someone. (They will think its cool and grown-up.)
  • Keep fingernails trimmed and short. (Babies are always scratching their faces and eyes.)
  • Wash hands after doing art projects and crafts. (This helps keeps all chemicals and fragments out of eyes.)
  • Cover sharp furniture edges with protective covers
  • Teach them not to run, but move slowly with sharp objects -- scissors, pens, pencils, etc....
  • Keep them away if the someone is mowing or weed eating the yard.
  • Keep away from fireworks. ( Did you know that a Sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees?  See our 4th of July blog.)
  • Keep eyes moist with eye drops if they always seem dry. (Click here for coupon)
One last tip for keeping your child's eyes in tip-top shape is to take Omega-3's.  It is a family of fatty acids essential to maintaining overall health and is especially important to help protect eye health.

Marci
Contributing Writer
Training Wheels Preschool Owner

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