Our eyes are very precious structures of biological wizardry and every effort should be made to take care of them. If this vital sensory organ is damaged, it has a profound effect on how we interact with and experience the world around us.
It is for this reason that it is never too early to teach children about eye health and safety.This includes awareness about healthy lifestyle habits that can affect their eyes and vision as well as how to keep their eyes safe from injury and infection.
Starting off with good eye habits at a young age will help to create good habits that will promote eye and vision health for a lifetime.
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW OUR BODIES PROTECT OUR EYES?
Here are a few examples of the simple yet ingenious ways in which these highly specialised organs are kept safe:
- Most of your eyeball is encased in a boney "cave" called the orbit. This minimises the effect of any trauma to the head or face, on the eyeball.
- If an object comes close to the eye, the lids are triggered to shut over the front of the eyeball in 1/10 of a second! That is an incredible speed giving credence to the phrase "in the blink of an eye".
- Your eyelashes act as "nets" catching dust particles before they land on the front of your eye.
- Your eyes produce tears. Not only do tears wash away any dust or other foreign bodies that might fall onto your eyes, but they contain specialised immune cells that act as a biological barrier to infection. Tears also keep the eye moist which stops the front of your eye from drying out.
There are many different ways in which children can be encouraged
to look after their eyes. If you are able to make implementing the various options fun
, your child will be far more likely to follow through with good habits.
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS:
1. PROTECTIVE EYE GEAR:
Your child must wear the correct protective gear
whilst playing sport.
For example, eye goggles for squash
, a helmet
and goggles and helmets for skiing
Your child should wear safety goggles if he or she is helping you in the garden
, with woodwork
or working with metal
must be worn during science experiments
Children who only have good vision in one eye
should consider wearing safety glasses
to protect this eye to protect this eye during his or her regular daily activities.
2. PROTECT YOUR EYE
Wear a hat
on bright sunny days when playing outside. Not only does this protect the eyelids from UV damage and the risk of skin cancer in the future
, but it also helps to protect the lens inside the eye
3. DON'T LOOK!
Teach your child to never look directly at the sun or a laser pointer.
This can cause irreversible damage to the eye
4. KEEP AWAY!
Keep sunscreen or other products away from the eyes as they can sting
. If a product gets into the eye rinse it out immediately with clean water
Did You Know?
A squash ball is the perfect size to fit through the opening of the orbit and crush the eyeball?
For such a small and soft ball, it can do an incredible amount of damage.
5. DON'T RUB!
Educate your child
that if he or she feels something in their eye, they must not rub.
As it could scratch their eyeball.
Rather encourage them to askan adult to help them wash the object out of the eye with clean water.
Persistent rubbing due to itchy eyes can damage
the eyes and change the shape of the eyeball.
Please take your child to be assessed by an eye specialist as this could be the sign of a more serious underlying condition.
6. KEEP OTHERS SAFE
Never throw sand
, dirt or small things at others. Never run with pointy things like pencils or scissors
in your hands.
Never have sword fights with sharp objects
like sticks or pencils. Never fire anything at others eyes
, e.g. Spud gun, peashooter, paper.
7. EYE INJURIES
Children's hospitals say that at least 90% of all eye injuries could have been prevented. Forty percent of accidents happen at home.
Types of Injuries include:
- Blunt trauma e.g. a knock with a ball
- Penetrating injuries e.g. a pencil in the eye
- Chemical burns e.g. a splash of bleach
Did You Know?
Did you know that on average, we blink 20 000 times a day?
Children should never be allowed to play with fireworks. Every year we see the detrimental and irreversible damage
that is inflicted on children's eyes
9. WEAR THE CORRECT PRESCRIPTION GLASSES
This is extremely important as glasses helps create a clear image which is transferred to the visual area of he brain.
If a child has a need for glasses and does not wear them, the image that is transferred to the brain will be blurry and the brain will become confused. Over time, the brain may start to "ignore" this unclear information coming from that eye, resulting in irreversible vision loss. The same applies to a child who wears another child's glasses.
10. READ IN GOOD LIGHTING
Ensure that your child always reads in good lightning.
11. REST YOUR EYES
Remind your child to rest their eyes. With the digital age, a new concern is kids' posture when looking at screens such as tablets or mobile phones. Prevent your child from holding these digital devices too close to their eyes.
A rule of thumb is to hold the device the distance from your chin to your elbow. Also, when looking at a tv, mobile or computer screen for long periods of time, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a break every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, by looking at something 20 feet (6 metres) away.
Did You Know?
Remember to educate your child that staring into the laser of a laser pointer can cause irreversible eye damage.
12. TELL - TELL - TELL
Encourage your kids to tell you or their teacher when their eyes feel tired, sore, itchy
or they cannot see the blackboard. These complaints could indicate that there is a more serious underlying condition in the eye that should be assessed by an eye care specialist
13. KEEP THEM CLEAN
Teach your child to wash their hands before touching their eyes. If your child or teen wears contact lenses, ensure that he or she follows your eye doctor's instructions carefully for proper lens hygiene. If your teen wears makeup, ensure that brushes are cleaned regularly, and that old makeup is thrown away. Make up should never be shared.
14. EAT RIGHT!
Eating a balanced diet is essential for eye health.
Fresh fruits and vegetables such as green leafies like kale, spinach and broccoli are packed full of eye protecting nutrients as are oily fish, like salmon and tuna.
An active lifestyle has been shown to reduce the risk of developing a number of eye diseases as well as diabetes - a disease which can result in blindness.
16. DISSUADE YOUR TEEN FROM SMOKING
Smoking has been linked to increased risk of a number of vision threatening eye diseases.
Download the article here:
Eye Health and Safety
17. REGULAR ANNUAL CHECK-UPS!
Don't forget the most important tip of all – have regular annual eye check-ups by a qualified eye doctor!
Remember, school eye screenings do NOT constitute a formal eye exam. They are only checking for basic problems, but could miss a really serious condition that could adversely and permanently affect your child's vision...
By teaching your children about eye health and safety at a young age, you are instilling in them habits that will enable them to take good care of their vision for the rest of their lives.