August is Child Eye Health and Safety Month, so Hospitality Health ER wants to make sure you include vision screening in your back-to-school checklist. That’s because catching an eye disorder early on in your child’s life can make a major difference in the outcome of the disorder. Because our children are more active than ever, practicing eye safety has never been more important.
The more common eye conditions that affect children can typically be treated. These include lazy eye (Amblyopia), crossed eyes (Strabismus), color blindness (color deficiency), and refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. But if the condition isn’t discovered and addressed until later in life, treatment may not be as effective. That’s why it’s important for you to take your children for regular vision screening, even in the first months of life. Being able to see is a blessing that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Vision Screening Schedule:
- 6 months. Your pediatrician will examine your baby’s eye structure to ensure they are developing and working properly together. They will, of course, check for conditions that may impact their vision such as tumors.
- Between 2 and 3 years. At this stage, the doctor will be able to catch developmental eye problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. This checkpoint is critical for your child because the doctor can get a headstart on any necessary therapies before the condition progresses.
- Before Kindergarten. The doctor will test their vision and prescribe glasses if needed.
If your baby or child shows any of the following signs, take them to an eye doctor to have their eyes checked:
- Droopy eyelids
- Eyes water excessively
- Eyes are not straight (eyes look crossed)
- Frequently rubbing eyes
- Tilting or turning head to look at objects
- Wandering eyes or squeezing eyes
- Complains that they can’t see far (for example, they can’t see the board)
- Excessive blinking
- Complaints of headaches
- Double vision
How to Prevent Eye Injuries
Children are highly active as it is. When you add toys, sports, and chemicals to the equation, it’s no wonder why thousands of children go to the ER with eye injuries. Not surprisingly, the group that sustains the most injuries are athletes between the ages of 5 and 14. Fortunately, more than 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented by using appropriate protective eyewear.
Here are just a few tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
- Make sure your children wear sports eye protectors made with polycarbonate lenses for most sports including baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, and paintball.
- Keep all chemicals and sprays where children cannot reach them.
- Practice and teach safe use of items that commonly cause serious eye injuries such as paper clips, pencils, scissors, bungee cords, wire coat hangers and rubber bands.
- Set an example for your children by safeguarding your own sight with ANSI-approved protective eyewear while performing high-risk yard work and projects around the house.
- Only let your children play with age-appropriate toys.
- Discourage play with sharp toys such as darts, bows and arrows, and missile-firing toys.
- Select toys that meet the national safety standards (marked with “ASTM”).
- Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Pad or cushion sharp corners.
- Avoid non-powder rifles, pellet guns, and BB guns. They are extremely dangerous and have been reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments.
- Do not allow children anywhere near fireworks, especially bottle rockets. These fireworks pose a serious risk of eye injury and have been banned in several states.
- Make sure you secure your children properly in cars using age-appropriate child safety seats and restraints. Don’t allow any children under the age of 12 to ride in the front seat. Loose items should be stored in the trunk to prevent injuries in the event of an accident.