Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

by B.E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:
To raise awareness of the importance of children’s eye health, August is commemorated as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. Eyesight plays a crucial role in a child’s development of physical, cognitive, and social skills. One in 20 preschool-age children has a serious eye problem, which, if not detected and treated in a timely way, could result in permanent vision impairment. Most preschoolers do not receive routine eye screening or eye exams which are crucial to identify vision problems early, when they are generally most treatable. Because children who have never experienced clear vision may not realize their eyesight is impaired, parents may need to be extra vigilant about observing any symptoms of possible problems. Common signs of concern are frequent rubbing of the eyes, squinting, tilting, or turning the head to look at objects. Refractive abnormalities, the most common types of eye problems in children, include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. Arrange for your child to have a professional eye examination from an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) if they do not pass a vision screening or if they experience signs of possible vision problems. For more information, read the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s article on 10 Child Eye Problems Parents Should Never Ignore as well as the press release announcing that Prevent Blindness Declares August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month to Help Educate Families on the Importance of Healthy Vision and Early Access to Eye Care and the National Today piece here on Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month.

Pointers for Children

In addition to providing advice for parents to guard the health and safety of their child’s eyes, the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosts a website for kids to learn about ways to protect their eyes. They offer some questions and advice for kids:

Eat right. A well-balanced diet can help to keep your eyes healthy. Eat different fruits and vegetables, especially spinach, kale, collard greens, and other leafy greens. Salmon, tuna, halibut, and other fish can also help your eyes.

Speak up if your eyesight changes. If your vision is blurry, you squint a lot, or have trouble seeing things at school or elsewhere, let a parent or teacher know.

Wear your glasses. Glasses, if they are needed, help you see better, especially when they’re clean and not smudged. Speak with an adult about how to clean your glasses and how to store them when you’re not wearing them.
For additional suggestions, visit the NEI Healthy Vision Tips webpage.

NEI for Kids also hosts an “Ask a Scientist” video series for children, which includes video description. For instance, the “Eyes at Night” segment, where Dr. Cheri Wiggs explains what the eyes do when we sleep and why we can’t see colors well in the dark. Another example is Dr. Matt McMahon, who explains “What is an Optical Illusion?,” and describes this phenomenon and “how they play tricks on our eyes.” Read more here about the Ask a Scientist Video Series.

For more information and resources for children, visit the NEI for Kids webpage.