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5 Ways to Protect and Improve Your Child’s Eyesight

Your child’s vision is their primary window into the world around them. Keeping their eyesight healthy is an important part of allowing them to experience life to the fullest.

Here are 5 tips on how to protect and improve your child’s eye health:

1. Take them to the eye doctor for routine eye exams

One of the most important take-aways from any article you read on the subject of keeping your child’s vision and eyes healthy, is the need to keep up with routine comprehensive eye exams.

Although your kid’s school may perform vision screenings, these tests can only detect the most basic issues, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or severe amblyopia. They are not equipped to check for eye diseases that can affect your child’s long-term ocular health, or binocular vision disorders that can hinder their ability to learn.

Our Belmont eye doctor will be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for the presence of these and other conditions. If ocular diseases or vision disorders are detected, your eye doctor will have the equipment and expertise to properly treat them.

2. Limit their screen time

Screens are an ever-present part of our lives. Children can spend hours every day texting, playing video games, watching television, and more. It is all-too-easy to spend way too much time on these digital devices, causing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain

Excessive blue light, like the kind that comes from these screens, interferes with sleep and is also thought to increase the risk of macular degeneration later in life.

To prevent symptoms and protect your child’s long-term vision health, limit their screen time, when possible, to approximately one hour, and devices should be turned off a few hours before bedtime to allow your child to wind down.

3. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and get exercise

As with every part of the body, a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the long-term health of your child’s eyes.

Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote eye health. Good sources include fish such as salmon and herring. For vegans and others who don’t eat fish, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also a great option. 

Leafy greens and fruits are also important, as they’re high in vitamins A, C and E, which are all important for the development and maintenance of healthy vision.

Along with a healthy diet, you should encourage your child to get up and exercise. Physical activity is good for the whole body, and that includes the eyes.

Bonus points if you can get your child outside, as sunlight and outdoor play have been shown to slow or even prevent the development of myopia. Just make sure your child wears sunglasses and a sun hat — UV rays have a cumulative effect that could lead to eye diseases like macular degeneration later in life.

4. Help them avoid eye injuries

Eye injuries are an all-too-common occurrence, especially among children.

If you have little ones at home, make sure that paints, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals and irritants are put away somewhere safe. If these ever get into their eyes, they can cause severe damage to your child’s visual system, including permanent loss of vision.

For contact and ball/puck sports, ensure your child wears the right eyewear to protect their eyes from accidental impacts or pokes. Helmets should also be worn where the sport warrants it, to prevent concussions and other head injuries that can have an effect on vision.

5. Reduce eye infections

Even small, common infections such as pink eye can have an impact on your child’s vision.

Hands are some of the most bacteria-filled parts of our bodies. Your child should learn not to touch their eyes with their unwashed hands, as this is the primary way of introducing germs to the eye that may result in infection. 

On a similar note, if you have contact lens wearers, be sure to teach them to wash their hands each and every time they put in or take out their contact lenses. They should also learn to store and clean their lenses strictly according to their eye doctor‘s instructions and should change lenses according to their intended schedule. Daily contacts should be changed daily, monthly contacts, monthly.

For more information on how best to protect and improve your child’s eyesight, contact Family Eye Center Optometry in Belmont today.

Q&A

Can I rely on the vision screenings at my child’s school to catch vision and eye health issues?

No. School-based vision screenings check for basic visual acuity. Even if your child has perfect 20/20 vision, there may still be issues with visual skills or undetected eye diseases that these types of screenings are not equipped to catch.

It is important not to rely on school vision screenings as a replacement for an annual comprehensive eye exam with your local optometrist. During these visits, your eye doctor will be able to assess your child for vision skills such as:

  • Eye teaming ability
  • Convergence and divergence skills
  • Tracking and focusing
  • Visual accommodation

They will also be able to diagnose and treat conditions such as:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • (Rarely) pediatric glaucoma or cataracts

These and other conditions can only be diagnosed and treated by a trained optometrist as part of a comprehensive eye exam.

Can vision problems be misdiagnosed as ADHD/ADD?

It is unfortunately common for learning-related vision problems to go undetected. These vision problems can often mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, leading to misdiagnosis and mistaken treatment.

As many as 1 out of every 4 school-age children suffers from some form of visual dysfunction. If not properly treated, a child may struggle throughout their entire school career, harming their learning and possibly their long-term self-confidence.

5 Ways to Set Up Your Home Computer to Reduce Eye Strain

Family Eye Center Optometry | Computer Glasses in Belmont

Nearly 60% of people who routinely use computers or digital devices experience symptoms of digital eye strain โ€” also called computer vision syndrome โ€” according to recent data. Since COVID-19 began, the number of hours spent on a computer for tasks like working from home, online schooling, and online shopping has increased dramatically.

Symptoms of computer eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eye, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and red eyes.

If your eyes feel dry and tired, your vision is blurry by the end of the day, or your head, neck, and shoulders ache, the way you utilize your computer and other digital devices might be to blame.

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How to Reduce Eye Strain

Spending less time in front of your computer is the best way to reduce digital eye strain, but if you’re working from home or you or your children are learning online, that might not be an option.

Here are 5 steps you can take to lower your risk of eye strain:

1. Use proper lighting

Excessively bright light, either from sunlight or from interior lighting, can cause eye strain.

By reducing exterior light (by closing your drapes, shades or blinds), and tweaking the lighting inside your home (using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or lower intensity bulbs and tubes) you can lower glare and reflections off the screen.

Also, if possible, position your computer screen so the windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.

2. Blink more often

When staring at a screen, people blink one-third less frequently than they normally do. Blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation.

To reduce your risk of dry eye during computer use, every 20 minutes blink 10 times by closing your eyes very slowly. This will lubricate your eyes and help prevent dry eye.

3. Relax your eyes

Constantly staring at a computer screen can lead to focusing fatigue, which causes digital eye strain. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

Some eye doctors call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking far away relaxes the focusing lens inside the eye to reduce fatigue.

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Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery โ€“ now or in the future? Our Belmont eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

4. Take frequent breaks

Taking frequent breaks from your screen can help reduce eye strain and neck, back and shoulder pain during your workday.

It is recommended to take at least one 10-minute break every hour. During these breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to reduce tension and muscle aches.

5. Modify your workstation

Poor posture also contributes to digital eye strain. Adjust your workstation and chair to the correct height so your monitor is not too close to, or too far from your eyes, or in a position that causes you to crane your neck.

Position your computer screen so it’s 20 to 24 inches from your eyes. The center of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes for comfortable positioning of your head and neck. With this adjustment, you will not only reduce neck, back, and shoulder pain, but reduce eye strain as well.

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People experience different levels of digital eye strain, so if after you have shut down your computer the symptoms persist, then you may have a visual problem that requires attention from your eye doctor. If these symptoms are ignored and nothing is done to alleviate the eye strain the problem will only worsen.

Having a yearly checkup can help you preserve your eye health. Contact Family Eye Center Optometry to learn more about how to keep your eyes healthy and reduce eye strain when working on computers.

Call Family Eye Center Optometry on 650-399-7060 to schedule an eye exam with our Belmont optometrist.

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