Linking Vision and Learning: Eye Care Tips for Sharp Eyes
The kids are back in class! This school year, children will be using many visual skills to read, write and learn in the classroom. Eye care is important for making sure kids’ eyes stay sharp – when kids experience vision problems, they may have added stress and difficulty while learning in the classroom.
Vision problems are common in adults and kids alike. Amblyopia, which is also called “lazy eye,” is one common vision condition in children that occurs when one eye is weaker than the other. According to the CDC, 2 to 3 percent of children have amblyopia. Strabismus is another example of a common childhood vision problem. Also known as “crossed-eyes,” strabismus occurs when eyes do not line up with each other.
If your child is experiencing a vision problem like amblyopia or strabismus, they may have trouble with many visual activities in school. They may not be able to see words or numbers on a page or on the chalkboard. Untreated vision problems may also lead to eyestrain, headaches, dizziness or nausea.
The most important first step for eye care is to make sure that your child has regular eye exams. Eye care providers can monitor eye health and provide expert help and treatment. In addition, there are many ways you can help your child’s eye health at home. Here are five eye care tips for kids that you can use to keep eyes healthy for school – and year-round!
- Eat for Eyesight
In addition to eating a healthy diet, there are a few vitamins and minerals that are particularly important for eye health – these nutrients are listed below, along with examples of foods you can find them in. Kids might enjoy these foods in their lunchbox or in an after school snack!
- Vitamin A – Carrots, sweet potatoes
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Tuna, walnuts, salmon
- Lutein – Broccoli, eggs
- Vitamin C – Oranges, other citrus fruits, strawberries
- Vitamin E – Almonds, peanut butter, sunflower seeds
- Zinc – Chickpeas, red meat, yogurt
When packing school lunches or making food for kids, remember to always be mindful of food allergies.
- Shield Your Eyes
Eyes are sensitive and sometimes need extra protection. Make sure your child wears protective glasses if they are involved in sports or activities that put them at higher risk for eye injury. Sunglasses are equally important for developing eyes – look for a pair with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
- Take a Break
Between video games, television and phones, our kids spend a lot of time looking at screens. To avoid eyestrain, limit the amount of screen time your child has each day and help them take frequent technology breaks.
- Guard Eyes From Germs
When germs get in your child’s eyes, they may cause uncomfortable infections like pinkeye. Avoid these germs altogether by helping your child practice good hand hygiene. When washing hands, scrub with soap and warm water for 20 seconds - singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice can help kids keep track of time.
- Go With Your Glasses
If your child wears glasses, help them wear them consistently according to the directions given by their health care provider. Wearing glasses consistently helps prevent headaches and accidental injuries caused by vision problems, and it can also help with healthy eye development as your child grows.
For any questions you have about eye care for kids, reach out to your child’s health care provider. We are here to help them succeed for the back-to-school season and beyond.
About the Author
Maureen Ben-Davies, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician with Cone Health Pediatric Teaching Service.