How To Care For Your Child's Eyes?
- Regular eye checkups, change in eating habits, eye protection, limited screen time, and eye exercises can help to take better care of your child's eyes.
- Myopia, hyperopia, color blindness, crossed eyes, and lazy eyes are some of the eye problems that can bother your child.
- In children, early eye problem detection can help in starting the treatment before further damage.
- You should keep an eye on your child's behavior to identify any eye issues.
Do you adore it when your child looks at you with the most loving gaze? It's absolute bliss for you as a parent, isn't it? But what happens when your child's vision is suffering? As a parent, it's your responsibility to understand and help your child deal with his/her vision problems. If you're wondering Wondering how to take care of your eyes and your child’s eyes, here are some things that might help.
The eyes are an important part of health. People rely on their eyes to see the world around them. But some eye diseases lead to vision loss, and by that time it could be too late. Children's eye care is very much important. You may think your child's eyesight is just fine, but what if there is some issue with your child’s eyes?
If you know the problem earlier you can find the solution in time. Children may not realize that they have any vision problems. Without routine tests, the risk and problem can not be spotted.
When should you take your child for an eye checkup?
Your child’s eyes should be checked frequently during the first hours, weeks, and years of their life.
1. First checkup within 72 hours of birth
Your baby’s eyes should be checked to identify any abnormalities with eyesight.
The doctor will examine your child's eyes to see how they look and move. They are searching for various disorders, such as cataracts, which are a clouding of the translucent lens inside the eye.
In one or both eyes, about 2 or 3 out of every 10,000 newborns have cataracts that require treatment. However, the examination is unable to reveal your baby's visual acuity.
2. Between 6-8 Weeks Old
This is a follow-up physical examination after birth to check for any obvious problem related to the eyes.
3. Around 1 year or 2 and a half years
A doctor will examine your baby’s eyes to identify the following issues; crossed eyes, cataracts, childhood tearing, or visual impairment.
4. Around 4 or 5 years old
After starting school, an eye examination called vision screening should be performed. The main aim is to detect the problem early so that treatment can be started as early as possible.
This test is usually carried out in school. The test is entirely safe and your child enjoys playing the letter matching game.
Your child’s vision will change over time. That's why you should arrange an appointment with an optical specialist.
Child eye problems
Several distinct eye conditions can be identified during eye exams, including:
- Childhood cataracts: These appear as foggy spots on the eye's lens from the birth of a baby.
- Amblyopia (lazy eye): The lazy eye is a condition in which one eye's vision does not fully mature.
- Strabismus or squinting: This condition occurs when the eyes stare in various directions.
- Myopia (short-sightedness): Myopia causes the perception of close objects as plainly visible while distant items appear blurry.
- Long-sightedness (hyperopia): Hyperopia in which you can focus on far objects but not on close objects.
- Astigmatism: When the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye, is not precisely curved, it is said to have astigmatism.
- Color blindness: A vision impairment that makes it difficult to discern between different colors, is more common in boys than in girls.
Child eye care tips
1. Regular checkup of your child’s eyes
Regular eye checkup is very important in the first few years of your child's life. Depending on the age of your child different tests are carried out for eye check-ups.
The red reflex test
- As part of newborn examinations, the red reflex test is typically performed together with a proper inspection of your baby's eyes.
- It entails utilizing an ophthalmoscope, a device that magnifies the eyes and uses light to enable a clear examination.
- When light is shone into your baby's eyes, it should reflect in the color red.
- An eye condition may be indicated if a white reflection is observed.
The pupil reflex test
- A light is shone into each of your baby's eyes during the pupil reflex test to observe how the pupils—the black spots in the center of the eyes—respond to the light.
- The light should cause your baby's pupils to reflexively constrict.
- If they don't, there may be an issue.
Snellen and LogMAR charts
- When your child can recognize or match letters, a chart with rows of letters and numbers in descending sizes is used to evaluate their vision.
- You'll ask your child to read aloud or match the letters they can make out at a certain distance. Snellen or LogMAR charts are the names of these graphs.
- An analogous exam utilizing images or symbols could be used on younger children in its place.
Range of movement tests
- A kid will be led to an intriguing object, which will then be moved to eight various positions—up, down, left, right, and midway between each of these—to gauge the range of motion of each eye.
- This measures the efficiency of the ocular muscles.
- An optometrist performs a refraction test at a high-street optician to determine whether your child requires glasses and, if so, what prescription they require.
- Your youngster may receive special eyedrops before the test to enlarge their pupils so the rear of their eyes may be seen more clearly.
- Your child will have several lenses placed in front of their eyes while being asked to look at a light or, if they are old enough, read letters on a chart.
Attention to visual objects
- This easy test will determine whether a newborn baby is attentive to visual stimuli.
- To get your baby's attention, the nurse or doctor will use an intriguing object. When they move it, they check to see if the child's eyes follow.
- The eyesight of older infants and young children who are not yet able to talk can also be checked using these kinds of tests.
- Pictures may be substituted for things if your youngster can speak but is not yet able to recognize letters.
Color vision tests
- If a problem is suspected, older kids typically undergo color blindness exams, also known as testing for color vision deficiencies.
- The Ishihara test is one of the tests used to determine color blindness. Viewing images composed of dots in two different colors is required for this. A child with normal color vision will be able to identify a letter or number in the illustration.
- The inability of a youngster to distinguish between two colors will prevent them from seeing the number or letter, which suggests that they may have a color vision issue.
2. Protect eyes
Some studies show that 90% of pediatric eye injuries can be preventable. Be sure to avoid any hazardous equipment indoors or outdoors, where your child is playing.
3. Restrict use of digital screens
Digital learning and usage are becoming more common, mobile, computers, and tablet screens are all over the place around your child. They tend to use all those devices. Teach them the optimum use of a digital screen to avoid eye strain.
Keep the screen 18 to 24 inches away from the eyes, and encourage your child to do eye exercises such as the 20-20-20 rule, rolling eyes, near and far, etc.
4. Encourage visual ability
With high-contrast colors and patterns in toys and décor, you may encourage your child's visual development as a baby and toddler.
When introducing your child to new locations, give them time to focus on the surroundings.
When approaching objects from different angles, let your child become accustomed to having a wider field of vision.
In the same way, a game of catch can aid your toddler or school-aged child, playing games like peekaboo and patty cake with babies can help them develop their hand-eye coordination.
5. Keep an eye on your child’s eye
You can detect vision problems in your child by keeping an eye on them. If you see them struggle with the following activities:
- Eye rubbing
- Sensitivity to light
- Poor hand and eye coordination
- Head tilting
- Cross viewing
- Holding objects very close to the eyes
- A problem in reading and recognizing distant objects
6. Have a balanced diet
Food is an essential part of human life to survive. Food gives you various nutrients such as protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, etc. there are some foods for children to improve their eyesight.
Many fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The fish that contain high levels of omega-3 include:
They help to maintain lubrication in your child’s eyes and prevent early dry eyes. Give a small portion of fish to your child on a regular diet.
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich sources of lutein and zeaxanthin and are also a good source of vitamin C. According to doctors, they act as a defense mechanism to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts in your child.
Leafy vegetables include:
- Eggs and carrots
Eggs are good sources of vitamin A that can help to prevent night blindness and dry eyes in children and adults.
Carrots have beta-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in vision. It is a part of a protein called rhodopsin, that helps the retina to absorb light.
Give your child strawberries, grapes, and oranges as snacks. Fruits that can improve the eyesight of your child should contain vitamin C. Fruits with vitamin C can strengthen the immune system of your kids and increase their eye infection resistance.
Nuts and legumes
A doctor will advise you to include nuts in your child's diet to give them vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids which protect the eyes from age-related damage.
You can include nuts and legumes like:
- Brazil nuts
- Pistachios in your child’s diet.
Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are rich sources of omega-3fatty acid.
Give your child plenty of water to prevent dehydration, and reduce symptoms of dry eyes.
Children's eyes are very sensitive. Childhood cataracts, lazy eyes, myopia, hyperopia, and color blindness are eye problems associated with children in their early years.
Proper eye care can give through regular eye checkups, protecting your eyes, limiting digital screens, and changing the diet of your child can help you to take care of your child's eyes.
To know more about well-being, click here.
- Eye tests for children, available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eye-tests-in-children/
- Keep an eye on your vision health, available at https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/keep-eye-on-vision-health.html
- Cassetti V, et al. The British and Irish Orthoptic Journal. 2019;15(1):96.
- Top 10 foods for healthy eyes, available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321226
- 6 foods to help maintain your child’s eyesight, available at https://www.myopiainstitute.com/eye-care/6-foods-to-help-maintain-your-childs-eyesight/