Protecting Your Child's Eyes and Vision
There are many things you can do to keep your child's eyes healthy and seeing clearly from birth through the teen years.
What Can I Do to Protect My Child's Sight?
To help protect your child's eyesight:
- Eat right both during pregnancy and after. Your baby will be healthier and you will set a good example.
- Provide nutritious meals with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and up to 12 ounces a week of fish. These foods contain key antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin, E, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein, which are linked to eye health. (Buy fish such as salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish, or pollock. Young children should avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.)
- Provide your child with age-appropriate toys that are free from sharp edges.
- Give your child toys that encourage visual development.
- Watch your baby for signs that the eyes are crossed or turned out.
- Look at your baby for any haziness or clouding in the pupil.
- Provide sun protection when outdoors by means of shelter or UV coated lenses, especially if your child's eyes are light in color.
- Be an example to your child by wearing the proper protective athletic gear when playing sports.
- Have your child's eyes examined by an eye doctor regularly, particularly during infancy and childhood.
How Can I Help My Baby Develop Good Eyesight?
To help your baby develop good eyesight:
- Place toys within focus of your baby's eyes, only 8 to 12 inches away.
- Encourage your baby to crawl. This helps develop hand-eye coordination.
- Talk to your baby as you move around the room to encourage his or her eyes to follow you.
- Hang a mobile above or outside of your baby's crib.
- Give your baby toys to hold and visualize.
Make sure your baby is following moving objects with his eyes and developing eye-hand coordination. If he seems delayed, talk to your child's doctor.
As your baby grows into an active child, continue to encourage good eyesight by providing visually stimulating toys that will improve motor and eye-hand coordination skills. Some good examples are:
- Building or linking blocks
- Stringing beads
- Drawing tools like pencils, chalk, crayons, and markers
- Finger paints
- Modeling clay
How Often Should My Child's Eyes Be Checked?
Experts have different opinions on vision screening and exams for children. Talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you.