With school in session, and fall sports and extracurricular activities underway, a top priority for parents is to ensure their children’s eyes stay healthy and can perform their best in every area of their life.
Having healthy vision, in particular, is key to children’s success both inside and outside of the classroom. However, a survey conducted by Think About Your Eyes, a national campaign designed to educate the public on the benefits of vision health, of more than 1,000 U.S. parents of kids aged 2 –17, uncovered parents’ misconceptions associated with maintaining healthy vision.
Below are tips for how to keep your children’s eyes healthy this time of year based on misconceptions illuminated by the survey:
- Kids should wear UV eye protection too: Parents surveyed said they are more than twice as likely to wear UV eye protection when they leave the house as compared to their children (33% to 13%), and only 8% of parents and 9% of their children wear eye protection when its overcast.
- Whether your little one is going with you to watch his big sister’s game or you are heading out on a family outing to the pumpkin patch, everyone should wear proper UV eye protection when they go outside. Without it, ultraviolet rays may cause serious eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration or vision loss, so adults and kids need UV eye protection – even when it’s overcast.
- Minimize screen time to prevent nearsightedness: Going on a weekend road trip to the apple orchard? Nearly half (47%) of parents surveyed said their children would spend four or more hours using screens while traveling to and from their vacation destination, and one third of parents said their kids will spend more than six hours with screens during the vacation itself.
- Sustained digital device use actually puts kids at a higher risk for childhood myopia (nearsightedness). Once you get to your destination, encourage your children to spend time outside to prevent the onset of myopia.
- Everyone should have three eye exams before starting school: Have kids at home that aren’t in school yet? They also need to get their eyes checked, yet only 8% of parents surveyed believe children should have three comprehensive eye exams before starting school and 40% surveyed believe one exam will suffice.
- Early identification of a child’s vision problem is crucial because, if left untreated, some childhood vision problems can cause permanent vision loss. Infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months old, and children should receive additional eye exams at three years old, and before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at age five or six.
- Comprehensive eye exams are vital to keeping eyes healthy: Think your kid’s school eye screening is enough? Think again. Almost half (44%) of parents surveyed believe methods such as eye screenings with a pediatrician or school nurse or monitoring kids at home catch all eye problems in kids.
- A vision screening can indicate that you need to get an eye exam, but it does not serve as a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam, and screenings often miss vision issues. Regardless of your age or physical health, an annual comprehensive eye exam will help to detect eye problems at their early stages when they are most treatable.
Scheduling an annual comprehensive eye exam is imperative to maintain eye health for your entire family. Visit ThinkAboutYourEyes.com to learn more and find a doctor near you.
Written by: Dr. Justin Bazan, Doctor of Optometry (OD)
Dr. Justin Bazan, Doctor of Optometry (OD), is the owner of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, N.Y., which he established in the summer of 2008. Dr. Bazan is also a recognized international speaker for The Vision Council, with an emphasis on eye care practice management and eye care trends more broadly. Dr. Bazan is also currently President of the Optometric Society of the City of New York and is involved in the American Optometric Association as the Federal Advocacy Representative for New York State. Lastly, he is a proud co-founder of the Young ODs of America a thriving nationwide network of burgeoning optometric all-stars.