As parents, our children’s health and safety is our number one priority. For our family, as well as many of yours, summer is our favorite time of the year. It’s a special time when our children are off from school and get to spend time playing outside under the warm summer sun.
August feels like the turning point of summer, as kids return to school and we begin to look ahead to the fall season.
August is also National Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. With this in mind, we want to share some ways to optimize your children’s eye health.
In this post we will cover:
- When your child should get their first eye exam
- Foods & nutrients that promote better vision
- Outdoor eye safety for children
Keep reading as we touch on some crucial points to help you achieve the best eye health for your kids.
When Should My Child Get Their First Eye Exam?
In general, your pediatrician should begin checking your child’s eyes at the first newborn visit. When they are very young we mostly focus on proper eye movements and possible anatomical abnormalities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that all children should have basic visual testing starting at 3 years of age and annually thereafter. This gives you a great window as a parent to ensure your child will enter school with the best vision possible.
Should your child be showing signs of poor vision (squinting, head tilting, balance issues, or sitting too close to the television) regardless of their age, you should consult with your doctor and consider scheduling an appointment with your local optometrist to get their eyes checked out. See this list of signs that may indicate a vision problem.
Food & Nutrients that Promote Better Vision for Children
Have you ever wondered why parents of all cultures around the world encourage their children to eat their fruits and vegetables? There are many is reasons for this, especially when it comes to eye health.
Vitamin A, Lutein, and omega-3s are at the top of the list of the best nutrient sources to promote better vision. These can be found in foods such as:
- Orange and yellow fruits, vegetables, and proteins (carrots, peppers, mangos, oranges, apricots, egg yolks, salmon)
- Leafy greens (spinach, sprouts, broccoli)
While I’m sure you are already trying your best to makes sure your child is getting an adequate amount of high quality nutrients, we all know how hard this can be—especially for children between the ages of 15 months and 5 years.
If you find it challenging to come up with new, healthy meals, head over to our recipe section of the blog to help!
In addition, I routinely recommend giving children the Foundational Four Supplements: Multivitamin, Fish oil (omega 3), probiotic and Vitamin D. All four of these supplements have been shown in studies to positively effect vision. See this blog post for our age-appropriate kits and dosing recommendations.
Outdoor Eye Safety for Children
Spending time outdoors is one of my favorite things to do, especially with my children. However, spending extended time outdoors requires some special considerations.
While most people are aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure and the risks of dehydration, they are often unaware of the importance of eye safety. Protecting your children’s eyes is so important as they grow, as their vision is something they’ll rely on for their entire lives.
Sunglasses are not only essential for protecting the eye from the harmful UV rays of the sun, but also from potential physical injury or trauma. Children’s sunglasses come in a variety of colors and shapes, which makes choosing and wearing them fun.
If you are the parent of an older child who is wearing glasses for vision already, you may want to consider swapping them out for another alternative eyewear option when they’re enjoying the outdoors.
Though prescription sunglasses are certainly an option, your child may need to then carry their regular glasses with them for when they go back inside. This can not only be annoying but kids are often running around, jumping off of things, and more prone to breaking or losing things, including their glasses. More mature children will often find contact lenses to be more convenient.
As our kids head back to school this August for another year, I hope that these few simple suggestions will teach you how to keep your children’s eyes safe and healthy—both today and for the rest of their lives!