Your Child’s Eye Health
There is no better time to check your child’s eye health than right now!
Eye exams are an important part of this process. Did you know that your child’s vision matures between ages nine and 11? You can see why it is important that they receive early eye exams!
The sooner you find the vision problems, the better chance you will have of correcting them.
Children can’t always tell you if there is something wrong with their eyes. They accept how they see things as normal.
Quite often, children with vision problems are simply labeled as having learning disabilities. Far too many children are diagnosed with ADHD when the reason they can’t focus is their vision. While unfair, this is a common problem in schools. Classes are often overcrowded, making it difficult for teachers to spend as much time with each child. They aren’t able to find all the problems that may be affecting students’ ability to learn. This is one reason why it is very important for young children to get an eye exam before starting school.
When you are having problems seeing correctly it is very difficult to learn.
What Can You Do to Help?
Parents know their children better than their teachers do. So, there is a good chance that you may notice signs of vision problems that their new teachers may not catch. There are many signs that your child may be experiencing vision problems:
- Following along with a finger while reading
- Losing their place while reading
- Squinting while reading or watching television
- Tilting their head to get a better view
- Sitting too close to the TV
- Sensitivity to light
- Rubbing their eyes a lot
- Watery eyes
- Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
- Their grades have dropped
- Complaining that their eyes hurt when using the computer
- Avoiding sports or activities which require near or distance vision
Common childhood vision problems include hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism.
Other Common Childhood Vision Problems: Strabismus and Amblyopia
Strabismus (crossed eyes) is when the eyes fail to align simultaneously. This results in one or both eyes turning out, up, in, or down. This eye problem can be either inherited or the result of injury to the eye muscles or nerves. This issue is more common among young children than you may think.
Strabismus is not something that your child will outgrow. See an eye doctor immediately if you notice this problem. Treatment may include eye drops, eye exercises, glasses, or surgery. Physical therapy for the eyes is often very effective. This condition doesn’t physically hurt your child, but it can be a source of insecurity and emotional stress.
Amblyopia (lazy eye) results when one eye has dimmer or lower focus than the other. There is no apparent difference in the structure of the eyes to cause this. Treatment for this may include glasses, eye patches, or eye drops.
The danger with this condition is that, if left untreated, one eye may become useless. The goal in treatment is to increase the strength of the weaker eye so that the strong eye does not compensate for it.
So, get your kid’s eyes checked early to start building stronger vision and a better future. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: eye exams are integral to preserving your child’s (and your!) vision for life.
Is There Anything You Can Do to Improve Your Child’s Eye Health?
One very important thing that you can do to improve your child’s vision is to provide a healthy diet. Ensure that they eat a diet high in eye-healthy vitamins and minerals. The younger you start your child eating vegetables and dark leafy greens the better. If children grow up with these foods, they are less likely to rebel against eating their vegetables. It is more difficult to switch your child over to an eye-healthy diet if they are not used to eating these healthy foods to begin with.
As soon as your child is able to eat normal foods, try giving them vegetables to snack on instead of crackers or chips. You will probably want to start with cooked vegetables that they can hold in their fingers like carrots or green beans. As they get older and have more teeth and learn to chew harder foods you can easily switch them over to raw vegetables as snacks. These are very easy to prepare ahead of time. Have them prepared in the fridge so that your older children can get their own snacks if necessary.
Talk to your doctor about a good multivitamin for children. Get them used to taking a vitamin every morning with their breakfast. This helps to ensure that they will get all the vitamins and minerals that may be missing from their daily diet. Schools have become more aware of the need to provide healthy foods for their lunch programs. However, if your child refuses to eat the vegetables supplied, there is not much the schools can do about it. Early training in good eating habits is an important step that you can take to ensure your child’s health.
As a bonus, a healthy diet not only strengthens your child’s vision, it can also help to build a strong and healthy body. Avoiding saturated fats, fast foods, and processed foods can make a big difference in your child’s health. This doesn’t mean that you should never allow your child to eat these foods, just make sure it’s not often. Save them for special treats like passing a difficult test in school or a birthday.
The steps you take to improve their health have long-lasting benefits. Yes, it can be inconvenient to take them to eye doctor appointments regularly. Yes, they could be suffering from a vision condition and not a learning disability. As their parent, you are your child’s health advocate. Insist on covering all your bases and learning about different treatments. Make sure they eat their veggies! Your child may not appreciate it now, but when their vision improves and they are healthy, they will thank you.
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