August is Childrens' Eye Health & Safety Month
Think back to your fondest childhood memories, and what comes to mind? Maybe a stack of neatly wrapped holiday gifts, a cool swimming pool glistening in the hot sun, the sweet face of a beloved pet, or the candlelight glimmering atop a birthday cake.
At EyeMed, we want every child to see life to the fullest. That’s why we’re glad to see the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Prevent Blindness have designated August as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month to inspire parents and caregivers to make their kids’ vision health a priority.
How much do you know about what makes childrens’ vision needs unique?
What to look for in kids—and when
Many parents might not realize the importance of vision care for children as young as 6 months old. But it’s really never too soon to care for a child’s eyes; in fact, 80% of learning in the first 12 years comes through the eyes1, and 5 to 10% of children have undetected vision problems.2
If a child is struggling in school, poor vision might be to blame. That’s not the only sign that a little one’s eyes might need care. Be on the lookout for squinting, head-tilting, reading with a finger and complaints about headaches and tired eyes. Kids may not realize they’re doing these things or that their vision isn’t normal, so it helps to know these clues.
And parents shouldn’t rely only on their children’s vision screenings at school. They might be coming too late. By the time a child is in school, he or she could be experiencing vision issues that could have been corrected much sooner.
Children should have their first eye exam between 6 months and 1 year of age to check for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, amblyopia (or “lazy eye”), proper eye movement and eye alignment, how the eye reacts to light and darkness and other eye health problems.3
A child’s next comprehensive eye exam should take place between the ages of 3 and 5, and then annually thereafter.4
How to protect children from eye injuries
In addition to doctor visits and preventive screenings, parents should take special care to help their children avoid eye injuries.
Sports-related injuries are particularly common: 43% of such eye injuries happen to children ages 14 and younger. Prevent Blindness recommends wearing safety goggles (lensed polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports and basketball, using batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball and wearing helmets and specifically approved face shields for hockey. Regular glasses do not provide adequate protection; any eye guard or protective eyewear should be labeled as ASTM F803-approved.5
Away from the field of play, children are still at risk of injuring their eyes in common household accidents. Suggested safety measures include using cabinet and drawer locks to keep cleaning products, toiletries and kitchen utensils away from little hands; padding sharp corners and edges on furniture and home fixtures; avoiding toys that fire projectiles or fly, as well as toys with sharp or rigid points; and, in the car, always traveling with kids 12 and younger secured in the back seat.5
How benefits administrators can help
Caring for kids’ eyes isn’t a job only for parents; benefits administrators can do their part, as well, by considering vision benefit enhancements designed for children’s fast-changing eyecare needs. For example, the EyeMed KidsEyes rider offers members an affordable way to focus on kids’ vision health by providing:
• 2 annual comprehensive eye exams
• 40% off replacement glasses at any in-network location
• 20% off sports-related eyewear and non-prescription sunglasses
• Lens exchange if the child’s vision changes within the same benefit year
• Polycarbonate lenses, photochromic lenses and contact lens fit and follow-up services
Additional helpful resources
Interested in learning more about kids’ vision health?
The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness features an array of information to help parents keep their children’s sight healthy for life.
And of course, EyeMed’s Eyesite On Wellness is a user-friendly source of information like this interactive piece on what your child’s actions may be saying about how they see to help users—and their children—see great things in life.
1. The Discovery Eye Foundation, “Learning-related vision problems,” July 2014.
2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.
3. American Optometric Association, “Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age,” 2010.
4. American Optometric Association, “Infant Vision: Preschool Vision: 2 to 5 Years of Age,” 2010.
5. Prevent Blindness, “Protect Your Child from Eye Injuries.”
CATEGORY: Health & Wellness
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