It is that time of year again. Time for finishing off those holiday cookies and preparing for a happier, healthier, more prosperous new year. A year ago I posted the Ten New Year's Resolutions for Your Eye Heath. This year I will turn my attention to children's vision. So without further ado...
The Top Ten New Year's Resolutions for Children Vision
1) Read up on children's vision
There are some wonderfully informative websites about children's vision and visual development. Check them out at Optometrist Network, College of Optometrists in Vision Development, Childrensvision.com, Parents Active in Vision Education, Optometric Extension Program Foundation, and many others.
2) Spend Some Quality Vision Time With Your Kids
One of the best things you can do is simply spend some time reading books and doing homework with your children. Watch them and talk to them about what they are seeing and what if feels like when they read. Compare what you find with this symptom checklist.
3) Have Their Eyes and Vision Examined
Have your children had an full eye exam? (A simple screenings done at school or the pediatrician doesn't count.) If they haven't, then make 2009 the year. The American Optometric Association recommends the first eye exam at age six months, followed by age three years and then before entering school. This exam should be thorough and evaluate all aspects of vision. You can find additional useful information about this at the Vision First Foundation.
4) Bring Their Glasses in for Adjustment and Cleaning
All children who wear glasses - especially boys - get them bent up a little bit. Sometimes a lot. Often the temples are crooked and the nosepads are flattened down. Don't hesitate to come by Bright Eyes and have the staff adjust and clean their glasses. You might be amazed how much difference it can make!
5) Consider Contacts
Many parents think that their children are too young for contacts. Sometimes they are correct that the child and family simply are not ready for contacts. However, contacts frequently provide better vision than glasses and is the best option for a child - if the parents are ready. You can read my post about this here.
6) Consider the Need for Sports Eye Protection
Many of my young patients participate in organized supports such as baseball, football, or basketball. For these patients, prescription sports goggles are a good idea. First, their use will limit sports-related eye injuries. Second, the improved vision sports eyewear provide may significantly improve their performance on the field.
7) Ensure They are Using Good Visual Ergonomics
Most people are familiar with ergonomics to help them function more comfortable and efficiently. This also applies to vision. Ensure that your kids take frequent breaks from activities such as reading and video games. Watch to see if they hold books or video games very close, which can cause eye strain. When reading and writing a slant-board is helpful. Read more here.
8) Have them wear their sunglasses.
We live Florida. It is sunny, even in January. Most of my patients have sunglasses and most of their kids do, too. But parents often forget to have their kids wear them. They'll go outside and put on the SPF 45 sunblock - which is a good idea - but then forget the eye protection. It is not too early to start preventing problems!
9) Myopia Progression
If you are concerned about your child's rapid development of nearsightedness, there may be some options to consider. First, Precise Corneal Reshaping not only temporarily eliminates nearsightedness, but has been shown in studies to reduce progression of myopia. Additionally, some children may benefit from additional options such as bifocal glasses, bifocal contacts, or vision therapy. Only a comprehensive eye exam can indicate what is most appropriate.
10) Pass this along to anyone who has kids!
If you know a family member or has children, pass this info along. Especially if there are visual problems in the family.
I hope everyone has a fantastic 2009! If you have any questions about this list, or anything else eye-related, feel free to call 813-792-0637 or stop by the office.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care