4 Essential Eye Care Habits That Your Kids Need to Learn Early On

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In January 2024, eye experts confirmed what many parents and healthcare providers have long suspected: there is a rising prevalence of myopia among children. This is generally attributed to children’s prolonged engagement in near-vision activities, which strains the focusing muscles in the eyes. In fact, 2023 YouGov research has confirmed that weekly signs of eye strain, from rubbing eyes to headaches, are witnessed by 50% of primary school teachers.

Despite advancements in treatment options, it’s essential to acknowledge that myopia cannot be reversed. This emphasises the importance of preventive measures, particularly during childhood. For starters, children can be encouraged to spend more time outdoors if parents lead by example and give specific tasks like foraging or nature walks, which can help expose children to nature and minimise screen time.

Below, we’ll explore four more eye care habits that parents can instil in children from a young age.

Screen time management

The widespread use of tablets and televisions as “good babysitters” has become a common practice among parents. However, screen time must be limited for children before it turns into an addiction, especially with how most kids aged 5-12 already spend an hour looking at screens at school, according to YouGov.

To encourage healthy screen time habits, parents should specify time limits for screen use each day or designate screen-free zones in the home, such as during meals or before bedtime. Additionally, parents can provide alternative engaging activities to screen time, from creative projects to family bonding activities outdoors, so that children are more likely to see screen-free time positively and avoid pressure from cell phone-owning peers.

UV protection

Without proper UV protection, caring for your eyes by spending time outdoors can be futile. That’s because the lens of a child’s eye allows approximately 70% more UV rays to enter the retina than that of an adult, making their eyes more vulnerable to permanent damage. Hence, parents need to be vigilant in ensuring their children’s eyes are properly shielded.

For starters, pick quality options. The sunglasses from corner stores or drug stores may not be UV-certified, rendering them ineffective in blocking harmful rays. Fortunately, many major retailers offer a wide range of UV-certified sunglasses specifically designed for children. On Vision Express, you can sort through their catalogue by gender and age to find children-appropriate options like the Ray-Ban RJ9506S or the Vogue VJ 2021. Remember to involve your child in the selection process throughout. By empowering children to pick their own eyewear, parents can increase their enthusiasm for wearing sunglasses regularly.

Proper hand washing

Hand washing is a fundamental aspect of maintaining good hygiene, especially among children who tend to touch their mouths, noses, and eyes while sharing snacks and toys with schoolmates. However, there are proper techniques for washing hands to effectively prevent the transmission of infections, especially eye infections like pink eye.

For instance, it’s important for children to scrub their hands thoroughly, including between fingers, the tops of hands, and under the nails, especially after spending time outdoors. Parents can demonstrate this to their kids by washing hands together after school and before meals. You can also make hand washing extra fun for your children by providing colourful and fragrant soaps or soaps featuring their favourite characters.

Regular eye exams

While implementing lifestyle changes to protect your children’s eye health is important, none of these measures can replace the need for regular eye exams. These are essential for detecting potential problems, from myopia to glaucoma, and ensuring optimal vision.

Parents should schedule comprehensive eye exams for their children at least once every two years. Take the time to explain what happens during an eye exam and address any fears or concerns. You can even promise your child a special treat or outing after the appointment or let them pick out a new pair of glasses as a reward for good behaviour at their check-up.

By instilling these habits early on, parents help lay the foundation for healthy eyesight. Children can equally safeguard their eye health and enjoy vision wellness in the years to come.

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