Now that the kids have had their annual comprehensive eye exam, other eye health and safety lessons to learn for back to school to keep their eyes healthy.
As we know from getting through last year‘s pandemic, kids should wash their hands regularly. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps to take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. Kids tend to rub their eyes quite a bit, so washing hands with soap and running water will cut down on eye infections as well as other infections like the cold and flu.
Encourage kids to give their eyes a rest. Another lesson learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many children were forced to remote learning. The average number of hours per day of school is 6 1/2 for 181 days a year for children. Breaks are important because staring at a screen for long stretches without taking breaks can cause symptoms such as:
- Eye fatigue/ eye strain
- Blurry vision
- Dry eye
Follow the 20 -20-20 rule that states:
Look away from the screen every 20 minutes look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Ideally, screen time should be limited to 2 hours a day.
Ensure children wear protective eyewear while playing sports. According to Prevent Blindness America, there are approximately 40,000 sports-related eye injuries each year in the US. Injuries severe enough to require an Emergency Room visit-that is one every 13 minutes, 90% could be prevented by wearing eye protection during sports, some recreational activities, or a task that produces flying debris.
Protective eyewear will guard against:
- Dust, dirt, and particles in the eyes
- Eyelid and corneal lacerations
- Fractures of the bones that make up the eye socket or orbit
- Flying debris
- Splashing of chemicals or hot liquid
Protective eyewear can be made to match a current prescription or coatings to match your child’s needs.
Some examples are:
- Ski goggles with UV protection
- Glasses with blue light protection
Depending on the sport or activity, some activities require a polycarbonate face mask or wire face shield to protect facial bones for example:
- Sports like baseball, hockey, or lacrosse.
- Swim goggles protect the eyes from bacteria and chlorine that may be present in swimming pools.
- For paintball always wear a paintball mask.
- Kids mowing the lawn should wear safety goggles.
Some toys and games that are a potential hazard to children’s eyes:
- Nerf guns
- Water balloon launchers
- Toy swords and fishing poles
- Silly string
This is just a sample list of sports and other activities where everyone, not just children should wear helmets masks, and/or protection for the eyes, face, and head. If there is any doubt consult your eye care specialist or a family doctor. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.