August - Children's Eye Health & Safety


Summer is almost over and for many of you that means back-to-school shopping. Which, depending on how you look at it, may be fun or a daunting task. Preparing for the new school year isn’t just about buying clothes or supplies, it can also be a time for sport physicals or children’s well visits. Not surprisingly, during this busy time, parents often forget to schedule their child’s comprehensive eye exam. Conveniently, August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!

Many practitioners recommend having your children’s eyes examined during well child visits, beginning around age three. Your child’s eye doctor can help detect refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism as well as the following eye diseases:

  • Strabismus (crossed/turned eyes)

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)

  • Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)

  • Color deficiency (color blindness)

If you or your doctor suspects that your child may have a vision problem, you can make an appointment with your local optometrist or ophthalmologist for further testing. Some specific warning signs that may indicate that your child has a vision problem include:

  • Wandering or crossed eyes

  • A family history of childhood vision problems

  • Disinterest or difficulty in reading or viewing distant objects

  • Squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching television

With the beginning of the school year, regular sport activities will be picking back up. Keeping your children’s eyes safe is another part of maintaining healthy vision. Did you know that eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children? With about 42,000 sports-related eye injuries every year in America, children are the largest population to suffer these injuries. By following a few basic rules for safety, you can help prevent your child from being one of the more than 12 million children who suffer from vision impairment:

  • Children should wear appropriate eye protection made with polycarbonate lenses for baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, paintball.

  • Make sure that all chemicals and sprays are kept out of reach of small children.

  • Parents and others childcare providers should practice safe use of common items that can cause serious eye injury, such as paper clips, pencils, scissors, bungee cords, wire coat hangers and rubber bands.

  • Only purchase age-appropriate toys.

  • Avoid projectile toys such as darts and bows and arrows.

  • Appropriate “baby proofing” such as the use of safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs, padding or cushioning sharp corners, applying locks on all cabinets and drawers that kids can reach.

  • In cars, make sure children are properly secured in baby carriers and child safety seats and that the seat and shoulder belts fit well. Children age 12 and younger should never ride in the front seat. Store loose items in the trunk or secured on the floor, as any loose object can become a dangerous projectile in a crash.

In the event of an eye injury in a child be sure to take the following steps and immediately seek medical professional help:

  • DO NOT touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye.

  • DO NOT try to remove any object stuck in the eye. For small debris, lift eyelid and ask child to blink rapidly to see if tears will flush out the particle. If not, close the eye and seek treatment.

  • Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.

  • A cut or puncture wound should be gently covered.

  • Only in the event of chemical exposure, flush with plenty of water.

Help your children have a successful school year by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam and taking the right safety measures to ensure their eyes are free from injury.