How to Prevent Eye Problems in Children
The visual health of our little ones should be a priority. Otherwise, both their development and their ability to learn can be affected. For this reason, we have to give special importance to this issue and look for ways to prevent eye problems in children.
Eye conditions can appear from the first years of life. For this reason, ophthalmologic control is key, as many vision disorders are treatable and reversible. In this regard, we must create healthy habits to take care of children’s eyes and prevent these types of problems from developing over time. In this article, we’ll describe some points to take into account.
Visual health in children
The development of vision is progressive and throughout childhood, our brain is nourished by the images it receives continuously. At around 6 years of age , correct vision is achieved, but it’s crucial to take into account that in childhood, the eyes are more sensitive to external stimuli. In this regard, they’re especially vulnerable to certain external toxins, such as ultraviolet rays.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are at least 2.2 billion people in the world with impaired near or distant vision. In at least 1 billion of these cases, the condition could’ve been prevented, suggesting that the visual impairment may have started in childhood.
Eye health is critical to a child’s proper development. When there are eye problems and vision disturbances, certain vital activities can be affected, such as socializing, reading, or understanding instructions at school. However, with healthy habits and annual ophthalmologic controls, many vision damages can be prevented. The most important thing is to be consistent with the care and early detection of any problem of this nature.
Eye problems in children
Eye symptoms are reflected in the child’s day-to-day activities. It’s estimated that 20% of children may have vision problems, which hinders their cognitive and social development. Pay attention if your child presents any of these manifestations:
- Recurrent headaches
- Excessive blinking
- Loss of attention span
- Blinks when reading or focusing
- They get closer to books or the television to see them better
- The skips lines when reading
If the child presents one or more of these symptoms, it’s best that you request an evaluation by an ophthalmology specialist. This will help diagnose the ocular pathology or refractive problem affecting your child.
Refractive problems arise from the inability of the crystalline lens and cornea to focus properly. These conditions are the most common during childhood, and also the easiest to treat:
Tips to prevent eye problems in children
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and other colleges of specialists have established a series of recommendations for vision care. In this way, they seek to reduce the incidence of ocular pathologies in both children and adults. Below, we’ll provide the advice that parents need to take into account.
To avoid eyestrain in children, it’s important for study and play areas to have good natural lighting. In addition, it’s important to have a special light that’s oriented towards the work area. This light should not shine directly on the child’s face, as this would increase eye fatigue.
Maintain a prudent distance from the work material
According to specialists in ophthalmology at Hospital Sanitas, children’s work material should be placed at a distance of 14 to 16 inches from the face when reading or writing. Likewise, they should be placed at an inclination of about 20 degrees to avoid reflections that fatigue vision.
Reduce exposure to screens
Protecting the eyes from blue light screens is essential to avoid eye problems in children. To do this, try to reduce the time of exposure in front of devices such as tablets, televisions, computers, and cell phones.
Protecting the eyes from the sun
During childhood, the eyes are more sensitive to sunlight. This is because the crystalline lens, a layer that protects the retina from light, isn’t yet fully developed. For this reason, it’s best to wear sunglasses with UV filters, with at least 99% protection.
Implement break times
When children study, spend time in front of the computer, play video games, or focus their eyes on the same place for a long time, they should have rest periods. This is to avoid eye fatigue. For this, a break every 20 minutes is recommended. You can also encourage the child to perform visual exercises, such as alternating the gaze between a close and a distant point for a few seconds.
Eating a balanced diet
A balanced diet provides children with the nutrients necessary for growth, in addition to promoting visual health. Vitamins A, C, and E and minerals such as iron, selenium, and fatty acids such as omega-3 keep eye structures in perfect condition.
Make an annual visit to the ophthalmologist
Children should visit the ophthalmologist at least once a year. Their first visit should be between the ages of 3 and 4. This way, the doctor will be able to make early detection of visual defects and make timely diagnoses that allow for quick intervention. At each visit, you should tell the doctor if you notice any special symptoms of discomfort in your child’s eyes. In addition, you should let them know if there are any cases or history of eye problems in the family.
Implement healthy habits to promote visual health
As we’ve seen, the eyes are sensitive and delicate organs that require special care to keep their vision in optimal conditions. In addition, this will help to avoid other consequences that may influence the child’s future life. Therefore, it’s key to create healthy habits in your child that promote their visual health. Teach your child about the importance of protecting this sense and, when in doubt or discomfort, visit the ophthalmologist for a checkup.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- American academy of ophthalmology (2021) Consejos y Prevención. Recuperado de: https://www.aao.org/salud-ocular/consejos-lista
- Delgado, J. (2006). Detección de trastornos visuales. Revista Pediátrica de Atención Primaria. 2006; 8 Suplemento 2: S93-112
- Rincón, I. (2006). Tamización de salud visual en población infantil: prevención de la ambliopía. Recuperado de: https://www.fucsalud.edu.co/sites/default/files/2017-01/8_2.pdf
- Sánchez, I. (2011). Problemas de visión más frecuentes en pediatría. Acta Pediátrica Mexicana 2011;32(4):251-254
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- Hospital Cima (s/f). El 20% de niños en edad escolar tienen problemas visuales. [Consultado el 11-03-23] Disponible en: https://www.hospitalcima.es/es/actualidad/28/el-20-de-ninos-en-edad-escolar-tienen-problemas-visuales