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.

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Paintball Safety
Kids Eye Health and Safety - Wearing Eyeguard

Have You Ever Tought 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 to Protect your Childs’ Eyes

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Wear Protective Gear for Playing Sports

1. Protective Eye Gear

Your child must wear the correct protective gear whilst playing sport.

For example, eye goggles for squash and swimming, a helmet and guard for cricket or softball 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.

Safety goggles must be worn during science experiments at school.

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.

Child Wearing Sunglasses

2. Protect Your Eye

Wear a hat or sunglasses 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.

Child in the Sun Wearing Sunscreen

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.

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Do Not Rub Your Eyes

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 ask an 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.

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.

Children Baking

6. Keep Others Safe

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.

Child Holding a Sparkler

7. Fireworks

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

Child Sleeping with Teddy

8. 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

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Wear Correct Prescription Glasses

Did You Know?
On average, we blink 20 000 times a day?

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.

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Remind Your Child to Rest Their Eyes

Did You Know?
Staring into the laser of a laser pointer can cause irreversible eye damage so remember to educate your child.

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Encourage Your Kids to Tell

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.

Mother Helping Toddler Wash Hands
Kids Eye Health and Safety - Eating a Balanced Diet

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.

15. Exercise

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.

Kids Eye Health and Safety - Dessuade Your Teen from Smoking
Kids Eye Health and Safety - Regular Annual Checkups

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.