Simple ways to protect your child’s eyes

Monday, 22.08.2016

If not studying or reading, children are often in front of a mobile phone or tablet for extended periods of time. This puts them at risk of straining their eyes, and inadvertently affects their vision as they grow up. Here are some simple tips that can help you take care of their eyes.

#1: Rest the eyes

It is recommended that your child takes regular breaks for every 30-40 minutes of reading, writing, or computer use. Time spent on electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones or handheld devices should be reduced too.

The American Academy of Paediatric (AAP) recommends that children should engage with entertainment media for no more than 1 or 2 hours per day1. Television or other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under the age of 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these initial years, and they learn best by interacting with people, not screens1.

2: Protection against sun damage

Invest in sun protection accessories such as sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection, or hats to shield your child from the sun’s damaging rays.

For younger children, it is preferable to use a hat or umbrella to prevent them from accidentally poking their eyes with the sunglasses.

#3: Increase time spent outdoors

Studies have shown that outdoor activities delay the development of myopia2. Therefore, incorporating more outdoor activities like swimming or cycling with your child can be highly beneficial.

As an additional benefit, outdoor activities result in better physical fitness and improved hand-eye coordination for your child.

However, do avoid the hottest periods of the day, typically from 11am to 4pm.

#4: Intake of fruits, vegetables and fatty fish

Eating vegetables and fruits that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to protect eyes from free radical damage3.

These nutrients can be found in foods such as kale, collard greens, spinach, Brussels sprout, egg yolks, corn, avocado, pistachios, goji berries, orange peppers, kiwi, grapes, orange juice and zucchini.

Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and tuna also contribute to eye development.

#5: Schedule regular eye check ups

Good vision is key to a child’s physical development, success in school and overall well-being.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Association for Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) recommend regular vision screenings for children starting from new-borns, through infancy (between six months to one year), and throughout their pre-school and school-going years4.

The earlier an eye problem is detected, the earlier an appropriate treatment can be recommended to ensure successful vision correction and life-long benefits.

#6: Encourage healthy eye care habits

Teach your child healthy eye care habits, such as reading or playing where there is adequate light.

When reading, your child should keep his eyes at a distance of 30-40cm away from the book, and about 50cm away from electronic devices.

Having at least eight hours of sleep each night is another important habit that can prevent your child’s eyes from getting strained.

Find out more on how you can safeguard your child’s windows to the world

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