According to a study done by VSP Vision Care, 84 percent of people rate vision as their most important sense, but only half of people get annual eye exams.
Protect your family’s vision by proactively scheduling eye exams annually for the whole family – don’t wait until something seems “off.” Eye exams provide an opportunity to check for diseases like glaucoma or common refractive errors like myopia. It's important to spot them early on when they are easier to treat and before damage has occurred.
Although eye health is important for everyone, children can be significantly impacted by poor vision. One of the more obvious signs that a child may need glasses or contacts is when he or she appears to have difficulty concentrating on schoolwork or trouble seeing the board in class. Here are a few additional signs that your child might be experiencing vision problems, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Squinting – may be a sign that your child has a refractive error, which affects how well the eyes focus on an image.
- Tilting head or covering one eye – Your child might cover one eye or tilt his or her head to adjust the angle of vision to increase clarity. This might be an indication that your child has amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, which is one of the most common eye disorders in children.
- Rubbing eyes excessively
- Complaining of headaches or eye pain
In addition to yearly exams, here are six tips for maintaining healthy vision!
1. Take care of your health and eat well
It goes without saying that a healthy lifestyle can benefit your kids in a variety of ways, including eyesight. Healthy habits early on in life like eating well and being active can lower the risk for diabetes, which can lead to eye or vision problems, according to the Academy of Ophthalmology. After-game snacks like granola bars or Gatorade are great, but also eating fruits and vegetables like dark leafy greens, carrots, and oranges, can all help improve your eyesight.
2. Quit smoking
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs and secondhand smoke isn’t just bad for your kids’ lungs. Smoking can drastically hurt your eyesight, putting you at risk for cataracts.
3. Wear sunglasses
This one is easy and stylish! You would never forget your sunglasses on a sunny game day sitting in the bleachers or on the sidelines, so make sure your athlete doesn’t either. Have your kids wear sunglasses on the bench or even in the game (if appropriate) to protect their eyes from the sun. It’s important to purchase sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB radiation.
4. Use safety eyewear – especially when your kids play sports
Safety glasses and goggles are specifically designed to protect your child’s eyes while doing certain activities, especially contact or high-risk sports. Sports lenses are made of polycarbonate materials that are much safer, lightweight, and impact-resistant, providing better protection against debris, blunt trauma, and UV radiation.
"With fashion-forward Rec Specs, if you use the Sensity option for photochromic lenses, you have maximum protection for all sports in all venues. So, if it clouds up during a baseball game, or the sun sets, or your practice moves indoors, no need to change! Also, parents and swimmers realize how reasonable it is to get pre-made prescription swim goggles for significant near or farsighted swimmers to make them more comfortable in the water." – Dr. Richard Freeman, Northwest Eye
"Most high-intensity and contact sports require protective eyewear. It should be worn, but it is critical that it is properly fitted and not compromised by wear-and-tear or age." – Dr. Timothy Ehlen, Northwest Eye
5. Limit computer/screen time
Limit your child’s screen time, as too much can cause a strain on their eyes that can lead to blurry vision, trouble focusing at a distance, dry eyes, and headaches. We are all excited to watch the Twins play a full schedule this summer and see all our favorite events while watching the Olympics this July, but try to keep tabs on everyone’s screen time. To protect your child’s eyes from harsh screen lights, make sure their prescription is up to date and remind them to take breaks from watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling on social media.
6. Visit your eye doctor regularly
You can do all the right things to maintain healthy eyesight, but it is extremely important to have regular eye exams for you and your children to keep your eyes at their best.
Be Eye Wise and visit Northwest Eye’s website to learn more about how you can encourage healthy vision in your family. Questions about our pediatric clinic, LASIK, or one of the other many services we offer? Call us at (763) 416-7600 to speak with a team member, or you can request an appointment.