Mind & Body
A Parent’s Guide to their Children’s Eye Care
5/1/2019 1:00:00 PM

Children's Eye Care


As a parent, it can be hard to keep up with all the appointments, routines and healthy habits that experts recommend for your child. 


But it need not be complicated. When it comes to eye care, it’s all about being mindful and prioritizing nutrition as your child grows. 


"Like anything else, eye health is all about maintenance and developing good habits early on,” said Dr. Bill Hart, M.D., owner and operator of Hart Eye Center. "It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does need to be a part of your life.” 


Here are some guidelines to help parents maximize their child’s eye health and avoid early damage.   


1. Eye care starts in the womb. It’s important to maintain a nutritious diet throughout pregnancy for all areas of a baby’s health, including vision.


2. Certain foods have been linked to healthy eyes. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and up to 12 ounces a week of fish can help your child get key antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy vision. It’s recommended that young children avoid fish high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish.


3. It may be obvious, but it still bears repeating — be mindful of any sharp objects that could harm your child’s eyes. The key word is "age-appropriate.” 


4. Know the signs. If your child shows signs of crossed or turned out eyes, or haziness and clouding in the pupil, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor right away. Watch for other common symptoms of eye issues like squinting, sitting close to the TV, holding books close when reading, and frequent headaches or eye-related pain.


5. Sunglasses aren’t only for adults. Always have a pair on hand for extended periods outdoors. 


6. Take a break from screens. Too much screen time can lead to eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Research suggests that it may even increase a child’s risk of nearsightedness, or myopia. Use the "20-20-20 Rule” to help mitigate this: for every 20 minutes of screen time, have them take a 20-second break and focus on something at least 20 feet away. 


7. Get outdoors. This can reduce stress, increase vitamin D and prevent eyestrain. Studies have shown that it may even lower one’s risk of developing vision issues. 


8. Schedule regular eye exams based on your child’s risk and family history.


"The frequency of exams varies based on a long list of risk factors, including family history,” said Dr. Hart.  "If you wear glasses, it is likely your child will need glasses at some point. The important thing is that everyone does see an eye doctor regularly, because some conditions don’t show up without an exam.”


Screenings offered at school and exams by your child’s pediatrician are beneficial, but they won’t catch every issue, said Dr. Hart. Childhood is a critical time for eye exams because of how fast children’s bodies are changing. 


For more information, call Hart Eye Center at 337-439-4014.


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