Some vision problems are a direct result of genetics, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even try to promote eye health in your kids. Here are some ways you can help your children’s vision develop as normal as possible.
1. Limit Screen Time
Spending too much time in front of a screen may lead to eye strain. Eyes benefit from focusing on objects at different depths. When you stare at a screen, they only focus on one up-close object for an extended period. Computers aren’t the only culprit—so are tablets, smartphones, televisions, and any other electronic, screened device. Encourage your children to develop other hobbies that don’t include a screen.
2. Provide a Healthy Diet
Giving your children the right nutrients can also promote healthy eye development. Vegetables such as carrots and spinach are especially beneficial due to their vitamin A content. Carrots alone will not give your child super vision—their diet needs to be balanced. Iron and other vitamins are important in eye health as well. Supplemental herbs such as lutein, eyebright, bilberry, and zeaxanthin can also help keep eyes healthy and vision strong.
3. Visit the Ophthalmologist
Take your child to an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Many eye doctors, like those at Crowfoot Vision Centre, can perform vision exams for the family—adults and children. Newborn eye care should be performed by a general pediatrician or family doctor. At about age 5-6, most children go through eye-testing at school. After that, you should take your child to the optometrist every 1-2 years, unless they show symptoms of vision problems, such as headaches, blurry vision, or squinting.
4. Encourage Outdoor Play
We already know that outdoor playtime goes a long way in promoting health and battling obesity. Now we can add to that list of benefits. Research from the American Academy of Ophthalmology shows that children who spend more time outside are less likely to develop myopia (nearsightedness).
Scientists are still trying to find what exactly causes the increased eye health in kids that play outside, but some suggest it is related to sun exposure. Of the thousands of kids who were studied, the kids who were nearsighted had about 3 ½ fewer hours of outdoor playtime per week than those with normal vision.
Encourage your children to spend time playing outdoors. Not only will it potentially promote normal vision, but it will also keep them away from screens.
5. Find Action Video Games
A study from Rochester University shows that certain video games can improve a person’s vision by 20%. Not every video game will do the trick, however. The video game used in the study was an action game called Unreal Tournament. The game increased the subject’s spatial resolution after just 30 hours of play.
Most kids love their screen time. Even if you limit them, they’ll still want to spend some time on the computer or in front of the TV. Take advantage of this time by introducing your kids to video games that involve high levels of action and will actually improve their vision.
Kids who develop eye problems such as nearsightedness usually show symptoms during their first major growth spurt—between ages 10-14. Do everything you can to promote good vision as your child is growing, and you will promote good eye health.