There’s so much to celebrate in August — National Ice Cream Day, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, National Dog Appreciation Day, and here in Georgia (unofficially), Send Your Kids Back to School Month (we might have taken some liberties with that one) — just to name a few of the fun observances in the last full month of summer. While we love ice cream and puppies as much as you do, we’re also very excited that August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month.
Dr. Mital Patel, Dr. Mark Machen, and Dr. Ronald Becker, the optometrists at Classic Vision Care, with offices in Marietta, Kennesaw, and Atlanta, share these five tips to help protect your child’s eyes as they head to school, sports, dance classes, and all the other activities that are in full swing.
1. Make sure your child’s vision prescription is up-to-date
As a parent, you undoubtedly participated in the whole back-to-school shopping experience with your children, to make sure they had the appropriate school supplies, a new pair of tennis shoes, and at least a couple new additions to their wardrobe. Kids grow so quickly, especially over the summer, it seems, that most of last year’s clothes may not even fit anymore.
Although their vision usually doesn’t change as rapidly as they outgrow clothing, it’s important to make sure their vision prescription is up-to-date as they embark on a new school year.
The American Optometric Association recommends that school-aged children have eye exams every two years if they don’t wear glasses and every year, or as your optometrist recommends, if they do wear glasses or contacts. As children grow, their eyes can change, too, and scheduling a comprehensive eye exam to make sure they can see well in the classroom ensures they won’t have trouble taking notes or watching a visual presentation.
2. Protect your child’s eyes to prevent sports injuries
Each year in the United States, about 42,000 children suffer from a sports-related eye injury — the leading cause of vision loss for kids in America. Be sure your children have protective eyewear to prevent injuries during sports and recreational activities like:
- Field hockey
- Racquet sports
- Baseball or softball
Prescription sports goggles are a great alternative to glasses because they stay securely in place while your kids are running, jumping, or catching a fly ball. Even if the sport doesn’t involve flying objects or balls, it’s still a good idea to wear protective eyewear so kids don’t get elbowed or poked in the eye during those competitive moments. At the very least, if your child is frequently outside on sunny days, invest in a cool pair of shades to protect their sensitive eyes from ultraviolet radiation and glare.
3. Choose safe, age-appropriate toys
For little ones, especially, make sure your children play with toys that are safe and age-appropriate. Anything with sharp, pointy ends is a bad idea, so take inventory of their playsets and toys and fix or dispose of broken pieces that could present an eye hazard.
4. Get help for eye injuries immediately
If your child is hurt during a sporting event or gets something in their eye, don’t try to treat the injury yourself with eyedrops and other medications. It’s best to seek medical attention to remove the object or treat the eye to prevent further complications.
Also, keep your child from rubbing and itching their eyes. If a chemical or another irritant gets into their eyes, flush the eyes with water and call your eye doctor or go to the nearest emergency room.
5. Watch for signs of vision problems
As a parent, you know your kids best. If you notice them frequently rubbing their eyes, squinting to see far away or up close, or tilting their head to look at something, it could be a sign of a vision problem. Watch for signs of crossed eyes, a lazy eye, or difficulty deciphering colors.
These conditions along with nearsightedness and farsightedness are among the most common eye problems in children. Catching them early so your doctor can diagnose and treat them increases their chances of restoring your child’s vision more effectively than if treatment doesn’t begin until later in life.
August is a busy month in Cobb County, and all around Atlanta, as families get back into the school year routine. Take time during Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month to ensure that your kids enjoy all their activities, clearly and safely.
Call one of our offices to schedule your family’s eye exams, or make an appointment using the online system. We look forward to seeing you.