The safety and health of children’s eyes is always a priority at VisionFirst. And because August is National Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month, we thought it beneficial to review some tips to keep young eyes safe. This means everything from proper safety eyewear to managing the environment in which your children play and live.
Approximately one-third of the estimated 2.4 million eye injuries that occur annually in the United States are in people age 17 and younger. (1) The most common eye injuries involving children come from:
- Falls on stairs, from beds, into furniture, and onto toys
- Sport-related injuries
- Improper use of toys, eating and writing utensils, and household tools
- Exposure to harmful household products like cleaners, detergents, paints, and glues
- Injuries from car accidents
Childproofing is a necessity to protect children’s eyes. Consider the following tips for giving children the eye protection they need at home.
1. Using baby gates at the tops and bottoms of staircases can prevent eye injuries from falls on stairs. Adequate lighting and sturdy handrails can assist children in going up and down the stairs.
2. Furniture and fixtures often have sharp corners. Padding the edges of household furnishings, like tabletops and brick hearths, can prevent injury.
3. Cabinet and drawer locks in kitchens and bathrooms can prevent many types of injuries to children.
4. Personal items, like cosmetics and toiletries, as well as kitchen utensils and desk supplies, must be stored out of reach of small children.
5. Keep all dangerous cleaning supplies and sprays out of the reach of children. Keep paints, pesticides, and fertilizers properly stored in a secure area.
The outdoors is an excellent play place for children to run, explore and have fun. However, children must be protected from the sun’s damaging rays. The lenses of a child’s eyes are more transparent than those of an adult so more UV radiation reaches the light-sensitive layer. The best protection against the sun’s damaging rays is the consistent use of proper child-sized sunglasses. For the best protection, be sure sunglasses block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. The effects of UV radiation are cumulative, so it’s important to develop good protection habits early.
Toys come in all shapes and sizes and some can be dangerous when not used properly or given to a young child. The following tips are good reminders when adding toys to your household.
1. Always read the instructions and warnings on every new toy.
2. Avoid toys with sharp or rigid points, shafts, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
3. When toy shopping, look for the ASTM mark. This means the product meets national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
4. Keep toys intended for older children away from younger children.
Most children participate in some type of sport in their lifetime. Children under age 15 account for 43 percent of all sports and recreational eye injuries. (2) Sports with the highest risk for eye injury include archery, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, mountain biking, paintball, boxing, soccer and hockey. Wearing the right protective eyewear can prevent 9 out of 10 sports-related eye injuries. Sports glasses or goggles can be fitted with prescription lenses to assist vision, but should not be limited for only that reason. Eye protection is needed for all eyes.
Eyestrain is caused whenever a child uses a smartphone, tablet or computer. You can help prevent eyestrain by positioning the computer screen slightly farther away from where your child would normally hold a book and slightly below eye level. Keep the screen clean and free of glare. Most importantly limit screen time and schedule breaks to rest eyes.
Make sure to properly installed all child safety seats, booster seats and that safety belts are used correctly to keep children safe while traveling in a car. If you have loose items like groceries or purchases, store them in the truck or secure them to floorboards. Loose objects become very dangerous flying projectiles when stopping quickly or during in a crash. As children get older, make sure they continue to sit in the back seat until they are at a height to properly wear shoulder seat belts.
The best approach to eye safety for children is a long term one. This involves assessing your children’s eye safety needs as they age and taking them for yearly eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam, along with the above precautions, can help preserve children’s eye health for the long term. Not only that, but it teaches them to prioritize their eye safety and gives them valuable lifelong habits.
(1) https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/e/eye-injuries (2) https://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/eyes-mouth-jaw/eyes/the-importance-of-wearing-protective-eyewear-for-youth-athletes