When most of us think about our children’s eye, we thing blue or brown or green or big or gleaming. But we also need to be thinking about safety. In this guest post, John Sideman gives us some valuable tips on how to protect a toddler’s eyes–especially with summer not all that far off.
Protect the eyes of your toddler by preparing for outdoor activities and limiting the time that your child spends in conditions that can damage eyes. Frequent exposure to sunlight at an early age has been associated with faster development of cataracts and other problems. By taking a few simple safety precautions and watching out for accidents, you can ensure your toddler developments healthy eyes that will last for long years to come. If an accident does occur, knowing the proper response can be vital to keeping young eyes health as they recover. Here are several ways you can prevent eye damage for your little loved ones.
A hat with a wide brim can cast shade on your toddler’s face and protect against the worst of the sun. This can be useful on days where you are spending a lot of time outside, no matter how bright the sun may be. Toddlers can impatient with sunglasses, but hats are easier don, keep on, and doff when needed. If you are buying a hat especially for your child, get their input on comfort and appearance before you buy – they will need all the help they can get to wear the hat in the outdoors. Keep in mind that most hats will still get lost in rambunctious play, so have a back-up plan if necessary.
Sunglasses are a more serious defense that hats, suitable for extra-brilliant days or special conditions such as snow glare or blinding reflections off of water. Some schools of thought hold that sunglasses can prevent toddler’s eyes from developing properly and forming UV light defenses of their own. Keep sunglasses reserved for especially bright times. When buying sunglasses, look for versions that block all UV light. Again, toddler input is important, because many toddlers find sunglasses irritating to wear at first. A sunglass headband can help sunglasses stay attached and unlost during play.
3. Protective Glasses
Protective glasses like goggles or thick plastic lenses come in toddler sizes for the most intense activities. If you have an older child that is getting started on sports or hobbies that could lead to eye injuries, protective glasses can prove a major boon. Winter and summer sports alike can be dangerous on the eyes without this extra precaution. So remember shielding lenses for any industrial activities, goggles for swimming and snow sports, and proper eyewear for the rougher types of team sports. Help your younger children avoid damage by keeping all toxic substances and those sharp-edged toys out of reach.
4. Limited TV Time – and Extra Space
Toddlers should watch a minimum of TV each day – certainly no more than an hour, and preferably less. The constant flickering light that TVs and computer screens product can be irritating to young eyes and deter proper vision development through overuse. Yes, you may have to cut down on your own TV time to keep your toddler’s time in front of the screen at proper levels.
When watching, keep your child around eight to ten feet away from the screen, with even more distance for larger screens. Too close to a TV screen, and the negative effects can grow more noticeable.
5. Proper Response to Injuries
Injuries happen, and while eye injuries can be frightening for you and your child, proper responses can help preserve vision. If something spills in your child’s eyes and you think it may have been toxic, wash out your child’s eyes with water and have someone call a doctor or hospital for advice. Continue flushing for at least 20 minutes.
If the injury is more physical, like a bump with a blunt object, inspect the eye and take a hospital visit if you see bleeding or other unusual eye conditions. If it looks like your toddler’s eye has been damaged by a sharp object, do not press any cloth to the eye or eyelid – this can damage the eye further. Instead, cover the eye with a protective, semi-rigid material and immediately call 911 or visit the emergency room.