What Do 5 Year Olds Need To Know For Kindergarten All You Need To Know About Eyes And Eye Care In Kids

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All You Need To Know About Eyes And Eye Care In Kids

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CHILDREN TO SCHOOL

“Vision problems affect one in 20 preschoolers and one in four school-aged children” (Shroff Eye Vision Screening Program, Mumbai, 2003-4).

“Two to four percent of Indian children develop squint [cross-eyed] and/or amblyopia [lazy eye]. Early detection and treatment of these disorders in childhood is essential to prevent permanent vision loss”.

In many cases, the child cannot see well in one eye because it may be a refractive error [spectacle number] only in that one eye. Here the eyes do not work as a team to see. If your child’s brain is not receiving visual images from that eye, the brain will eventually “shut down” that eye and vision could be permanently impaired. This condition is often undetected because the child has learned to read with the good eye. This condition can be diagnosed during an eye examination where each eye is checked separately.

Vision screening in preschool and primary school age children is very rarely practiced in India unless an obvious problem is noted. Often the problem is solved too late. For children who cannot read the alphabet, it is possible to have their eyes checked. All children attending Kindergarten must be screened on admission.

How to detect these common eye problems?

1. Basic eye examination for every newborn by a pediatrician.

2. All premature babies need an eye examination by an ophthalmologist

3. First detailed eye examination for all children at the age of 6 months; again after 2 years and then annually.

4. Inspections at school are intended to alert parents to the possibility of a vision problem, but do not replace a visit to an ophthalmologist. One study found that 11.3 percent of children who had vision screenings were found to have vision problems that needed correction.

5. Detailed eye examination by an ophthalmologist in case of visual impairment.

6. A follow-up annual eye exam is recommended to keep track of your child’s vision needs and also to make sure your child’s prescription glasses are still correct. The visual system develops with your child, so annual prescription changes are common.

Higher risk of eye problems at an early age nowadays

“Many pediatric ophthalmologists believe that frequent computer use among children puts them at risk of early myopia [short sightedness]”The average child now spends one to three hours a day on the computer doing homework, chatting online with friends and playing games. Parents are encouraging children between the ages of two and three to use the computer. Several recent studies have shown that computers can have negative impact on a child’s vision. They found that 25% to 30% of computer-using children need corrective glasses to comfortably and safely work on a computer at home or at school. Below are tips to prevent computer vision syndrome in children.

Tips for daily eye care for children:

1. Diet: A healthy diet with an emphasis on green leafy vegetables, drumsticks, carrots, beetroot, fresh fruit including mango and papaya are particularly rich in vitamin A.

2. Lighting: The light source should be placed behind the child when reading. Avoid direct glare by using a shielded light. Reading material should ideally be placed 12-14

inches away.

3. VDU or Visual Display Units include TV and computer screens.

Headaches, eye fatigue, burning, tearing, blurred vision, double vision and nausea can all be caused by prolonged work at VDU.

Avoid watching TV in a dark room. A well lit room with white light [tubelight] is ideal.

The preferred viewing distance for watching TV is 4 meters or more.

Position your computer screen at or slightly below eye level to minimize reflections and glare. The recommended distance between the monitor and the eye for children is 18-28 inches. Children are at risk of eye strain when viewing a computer screen closer than 18 inches. Parents and teachers should be on the lookout for any behavior that indicates potential problems, such as red eyes, frequent eye rubbing, head turning and other unusual positions, or complaints of blurred or tired eyes. Avoiding the computer can also be a sign of discomfort. Do not let your child sit in front of a computer monitor for more than 40 minutes continuously.

4. Allergies and frequent colds: must be investigated and treated. Eye allergies can cause a child to “roll their eyes”, which can become a habit and lead to permanent corneal abnormalities.

5. Swimming: Waterproof swimming goggles prevent irritation from chlorine and reduce the risk of infection.

6. Sports: If your child plays ball games and/or contact sports, we recommend safety glasses made of polycarbonate.

7. UV Light: Exposure to sunlight is healthy in moderation and helps in the production of vitamin D in the body. Too much exposure to bright sunlight is harmful and can cause damage. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV filters provide sufficient protection.

8. Applying ‘kajal’ to newborns, washing eyes with normal water, rose water etc. is an absolute NO-NO. Normal tear circulation is sufficient to adequately clear the eye of any foreign material.

The gift of sight is very rare. Give your child the best start in life by visiting your eye doctor today.

Common myths among children

Myth about squinting: “A child’s squinting should wait until they grow up”

Generally speaking, squint in children should be corrected before the age of 9. This is because, although cosmetic correction may be possible later, a child after 9 years will still have poorly developed vision from lazy eyes due to squinting.

Eye exam timing myth: “Kids don’t need an eye exam until they’re in school”

False. Starting at birth, it is recommended that every child’s eyes be examined regularly. Some eye problems, such as crossed eyes or amblyopia (lazy eye), can result in permanent vision loss in the affected eye if not detected and treated before the child reaches the age of five or six.

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