As the new school year begins, kids are relying more and more on their eyes. Classroom activities rely 80% on sight, through spelling lessons, reading textbooks, and PowerPoint presentations from teachers. This makes preserving a child’s eyesight important for not only their health, but for their education as well. Since many young kids don’t know when something might be wrong with their eyes, it is important for parents to know what to look for in eye health and pay attention to their children’s needs.
In honor of Child Eye Health & Safety Month, The Colony ER Hospital wants to talk about some of the most eye-related risks that parents should watch out for in their children. From injury to illness, a child’s eyes can be affected when families don’t know what to look for.
Naturally, when someone thinks about eye health, the first thing to come to mind is one’s ability to see clearly. For those who wear glasses or contacts, annual appointments with an optometrist are familiar. For children who have not visited the eye doctor before, though, they might not know when something is wrong with their eyesight.
The biggest clues for a child’s eyesight changing is how they read things. If your child is an avid bookworm and they mention that it is hard to read at certain times of day, or they have to hold a book close in order to see the words, that is a sign that something could be wrong. In class, if your child is struggling with note-taking or seems to be suffering in school because they cannot see the board properly, then talk with them and their teacher to determine if their eyesight might be a factor.
Another indicator of possible eyesight issues is if your child seems to have trouble judging distances and depth perception. If they mention that that the ground always looks sloped, too close, or far away, then take note of this, because it might be a sign of near- or far-sightedness. If you suspect that your child needs corrective lenses for their vision, then see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. If they need corrective lenses, then you can look into getting them the right glasses or contact lenses for teenagers.
For older children and teenagers who are engaging in afterschool sports and classroom science experiments, the risk of eye injuries is higher. Teachers who are supervising science labs should instruct your children in proper laboratory safety, but parents can get engaged and encourage proper eye safety outside of class as well.
If your family likes to craft or has any home-improvement projects that your children are getting involved in, then look into getting some basic safety goggles for everyone. Lead by example for your children, so that when they get to chemistry class, they understand how important it is that they keep their eye protected from harsh chemicals.
For any families with sport stars, double-check regulation protective gear for your child. In some sports, like lacrosse, eye guards are encouraged or required to reduce any risk of impact on or near the eye. If your child needs an eye guard, or requires a helmet that will protect their eyes, then make sure they have the equipment they need to keep their eyes safe.
Good eyesight does not guarantee good eye health, and for many children, there is a risk for eye infections during their formative years in school. Being in contact with so many other children and getting dirty on the playground are normal things for any kid to do. But how do you know if your child has gotten an eye infection?
Maybe your child forgot to wash their hands after eating, or they got some mud under their nails at recess. Once they try to rub or scratch at an itch near their eye, they are running the risk of infecting their eye. Two of the most common eye-related infections are conjunctivitis and blepharitis. These two infections can be caused by several different factors, including irritation from bacteria or foreign particles getting into the eye—like dust or dirt.
Blepharitis, which is characterized most notably by a swelling of the eyelid, is not very contagious, luckily. These infections are easy to treat and difficult to spread. Seeing a doctor is important, though, to make sure it properly treated.
Conjunctivitis, on the other hand, is very contagious and can be spread easily between children playing or attending class together. Conjunctivitis is more commonly known as Pink Eye, and it is characterized most visibly by swelling and infection of the whites of someone’s eye and tear ducts. Pink Eye can be caused by several different causes, from infections to allergies, but it is highly contagious during the first 24 hours of treatment. This makes getting treatment from a doctor very important so that it does not spread or worsen.
Avoiding conjunctivitis and blepharitis is relatively easy. Washing your hands before and after eating, as well as properly washing hands after recess, can be great ways for your children to make sure no bacteria accidentally get into their eyes throughout the day. Sometimes, these infections happen even when children have hygienic habits, but as long as parents know what to look for and consult a doctor quickly, the risk of serious eye infections is low.
We all rely on our eyes every day, and children attending class rely on them more than they might realize. Keeping our eyesight checked and our eyes healthy is a part of our health that we often overlook. The Colony ER Hospital encourages everyone to see an optometrist if you think you may need corrective lenses and take the steps to keep your eyes protective for any sports and activities where they might be at risk. Our facility is open 24/7 with concierge-level emergency care for adults and children of all ages.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, content writer at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on The Colony Emergency Room Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.