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5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our The Woodlands eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, and more. It is all-too-easy to spend way too much time on these digital devices, causing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Excessive blue light, like the kind that comes from these screens, interferes with sleep and is also thought to increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life.

To prevent symptoms and protect your child’s long-term vision health, limit their screen time, when possible, to approximately one hour, and devices should be turned off a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option. 

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection. 

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact Child & Family Eye Care in The Woodlands today.

Q&A

Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.

It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

  • Eye teaming ability
  • Convergence and divergence skills
  • Tracking and focusing
  • Visual accommodation

They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.

As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

How Does COVID-19 Affect Your Eyes?

COVID-19 is caused by a virus that enters your cells through an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The blood vessels, heart, lungs, digestive tract and ocular membranes all contain this enzyme. According to some experts, the virus can enter the eyes through this enzyme, producing ocular problems.

A review of research published in the Journal of Ophthalmic & Vision Research (2021) found that 11 percent of more than 8,200 individuals with COVID-19 had symptoms affecting their eyes. Burning eyes were observed by 8 of the 932 participants with eye symptoms, and ocular pain was recorded by 83.

Covid-19 Eye Symptoms

Though ocular problems are less common than cough and fever, the following ocular symptoms have been reported by some patients with various strains of COVID-19:

  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Burning eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)

COVID-19 and ocular symptoms were also studied by Clinical Microbiology and Infection (2021). In the study, 75 of the 108 COVID-19 patients experienced at least one eye symptom. Burning eyes were the most prevalent symptom (39 of the 75 individuals).

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, with or without COVID, contact Child & Family Eye Care in , Magnolia, and Shenandoah, to determine their underlying cause and how to treat them.

At Child & Family Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 281-363-4362 or book an appointment online to see one of our The Woodlands eye doctors.

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Q&A

Does the Covid-19 vaccine cause vision problems?

Some people are hesitant to acquire a COVID-19 immunization due to concerns about side effects, including vision problems. There is currently no indication that any of the COVID-19 vaccinations on the market cause vision-related side effects.

Can Covid-19 cause eye problems in children?

A study in JAMA Ophthalmology (Aug 2020) found that nearly one-fourth of children treated for COVID-19 at a Chinese hospital had mild eye problems. Those problems included:

  • Eye pain
  • Eye rubbing
  • Eye discharge
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

How Smartphone Apps Help Low-Income Communities

People who don’t have in-person access to an eye doctor may go years without getting their eyes examined. Now, thanks to smartphone technology, people in low-resource communities or who find it difficult to visit their eye doctor for other reasons can now have access to certain eye exams.

Even if a person doesn’t own a smartphone, volunteers or other people in their community can conduct a simple vision screening test via a phone app. If the app identifies problems, it could signal the need for an in-person eye exam.

Vision Problems Are Not Being Checked

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 2.2 billion people globally have a near or distance vision impairment, with rates of unaddressed near vision impairment at greater than 80% in western, eastern and central subregions of Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, only 13% of those experiencing visual symptoms, ranging from poor night vision and blurry vision to red eyes and double vision, visited their eye doctor for an eye exam and treatment.

How Can We Get People to Undergo Annual Eye Exams?

According to a study published in the Lancet Digital Health, using smartphones for eye screening and referrals could triple the number of people seeking primary care for eye disorders and boost the uptake of hospital services in low-resource settings.

This Lancet study, conducted in Kenya, demonstrates how smartphone-based screening allows non-expert community volunteers to visit homes and conduct eye exams, freeing up capacity among specialized eye care services.

While smartphone apps aren’t a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor, they certainly can help. They may assist in managing ongoing eye conditions and notify the patient you when a doctor’s help is required.

By eliminating an initial visit to the eye doctor, patients can get their eyes checked from the comfort of their own home. Only if an eye problem is detected will they need to go visit the eye doctor.

This isn’t to say that people should not go to their eye doctor, but if for some reason it’s financially difficult to go on an annual basis, or they don’t have direct access to an eye doctor, a smartphone app is a great solution.

To learn more about smartphone apps that conduct vision screening tests, contact Child & Family Eye Care in The Woodlands today.

At Child & Family Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 281-363-4362 or book an appointment online to see one of our The Woodlands eye doctors.

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Q&A

What can an eye exam app do?

Vision screening apps allow you to measure your visual acuity using your smartphone and help determine whether you need an in-person exam by an eye doctor. The app may measure your lens power, test for color perception and vision distortions, and monitor possible vision changes related to eye conditions and diseases like macular degeneration. It may even locate an eye care provider nearby and enable you to book an appointment.

What can in-person eye exams detect?

A comprehensive eye exam can assess your vision and diagnose eye disease. Eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, can go undetected for years because their symptoms may not become apparent until the condition is at a more advanced stage. Unfortunately, by then it may be too late to prevent irreversible vision loss and even blindness.