August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. What does that mean exactly? It means that healthy vision is an integral part of living a healthy life. Getting children the vision correction they need early on can help them do better in school and lead happier, healthier lives.
Children are visual learners
Roughly 80% of the material presented in classrooms is done so visually, as this is what generally appeals to the younger crowd. It goes without saying, then, that children who have untreated or undiagnosed vision problems find it really difficult to pay attention and learn alongside their peers in school. In fact, about 60% of children with learning difficulties have an undetected vision problem.
Vision also affects how children see and interact with the everyday world around them. Hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and eye-tracking ability all depend on healthy vision. Some common activities that involve these skills include safely riding a bike, reading or watching a television show, drawing or writing, and playing sports.
Early detection of vision problems in children is key, which is why this month is dedicated to drawing awareness to the importance of regular exams. Believe it or not, children should be getting an eye exam starting as young as 6 months, which should then be repeated at age 3. Regular exams should follow once children reach school age. An eye doctor will look for the more common problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, lazy eye, crossed eyes, drooping of the eyelid, and color blindness.
It is sometimes difficult for a parent to know when something is wrong with a child because they may not have the words to describe how they feel. Some red flags that your child may have vision problems include:
- Wandering or crossed eyes
- A family history of vision problems
- Decreased interest (or no interest at all) in reading or looking at objects that are far away
- Squinting when watching television or trying to read
Oh, my eyes! My eyes!
Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month wouldn’t be complete without addressing the “safety” component. Eye injuries in children are fairly common. In fact, roughly 33,000 eye injuries happen daily to children ages 16 and under. As if this statistic isn’t staggering enough, almost all such injuries could be prevented with the use of proper protective eyewear. The same goes for injuries involving sharp objects or explosives such as fireworks. It’s important to be diligent as a parent and monitor your child’s playtime to ensure the safety of their vision.
Healthy vision is an important part of being a kid. The ability to run and play and take in the world around them is what makes children tick. That’s why honoring Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month is so important. We can raise awareness of the importance of early detection, proper correction of vision problems, and safety when it comes to eye injuries. As your kids head back to school, make sure an eye exam is one of the top things on your to-do list to ensure your child has a fantastic school year.