Protecting your child's vision and promoting good eye health should begin very early on. A parent can do many things to ensure the eye health of their children, as well as things that parents can avoid. Here are a few dos and don'ts you might want to begin following now.
1. Do Help Develop Your Infant's Visual Skills
Crib toys such as colorful mobiles can help to stimulate vision in infants. In addition, offer your baby bright and colorful rattles to play with. Doing so may help your child recognize colors from an early age.
As your baby grows older, choose toys that may help develop vision and hand-eye coordination. Keep in mind that the toys you choose should be age-appropriate. Hold objects in front of your child and move the objects around as well. Your baby will learn how to track objects with his or her eyes, and this helps vision skills develop.
Although this may seem a bit rushed to you, some experts recommend an eye exam beginning at the age of six months. At the very least, your little one should have a full vision exam before beginning school.
2. Don't Forget Safety Equipment for Playing Sports
If your school-aged child enjoys playing sports, don't forget to have him or her gear up with safety equipment designed for protecting the eyes. Did you know that eye injuries are a leading cause of childhood blindness in the United States? Protective eyewear can help your child avoid serious injury that may cause permanent damage or impair vision.
Whether your child wears safety glasses or goggles, insist he or she gears up with the right eyewear that fits well. Know that specially designed protective eyewear will not impair your child's vision, and they are usually impact resistant. Look for polycarbonate materials.
If your child currently wears eyeglasses, speak to the optometrist about protective eyewear. The eye doctor may choose to write a prescription for sports goggles that matches your child's eyeglass prescription.
3. Do Provide a Healthy Diet
For optimum eye health, provide a nutritional diet for your child. You may have heard that beta carotene and lutein promote healthy eyes and vision. Beta carotene converts into vitamin A, which helps support eye health. If your child's doctor recommends a daily vitamin, look for vitamin A in the supplement.
A balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables is also beneficial for your child's eyes and vision. Carrots, green leafy vegetables, and berries are a few good choices. Teach your child good eating habits from an early age to get him or her off to a good start. If your child doesn't care much for fruits and vegetables, consider blending them into a tasty smoothie beverage.
4. Don't Ignore the Signs of Vision Problems
Recognizing the signs of vision problems early on is very important. A great percentage of learning comes from visual means, so be alert to difficulties your child may experience.
Does your child squint frequently, especially while reading or watching TV? Does he or she rub his eyes more than occasionally? While reading, does your child hold the book very close to the face? Look for clues that your child may have a vision problem that needs evaluation.
In addition to the above, other signs may indicate a problem. If your child complains of headaches or has suddenly fallen behind in schoolwork, this may be due to vision deficiencies. Schedule an appointment with an eye care specialist as soon as possible. Your child may need prescription eyeglasses or other treatment, and a delay may worsen the situation.