'Be Healthy, Stay Healthy' Issue 6: Eye on the Prize
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So much in life begins by taking a look at it. Keeping the eyes healthy well into old age is not a far-fetched dream but a doable idea that begins in childhood.
Infants have a mostly blurry vision, which progresses into a fully developed vision by the time they are about three years old. Newborns are typically evaluated for a “red reflex,” in which pediatricians look at the blink and pupil response. If a baby is born prematurely, they may sometimes require a specialist to examine the eyes since these babies are prone to vision complications.
Between six and twelve months, babies are screened for proper eye alignments and lazy eyes. When they reach school-age, children undergo screenings to check their vision and may be referred to a specialist if there is a concern.
It is important to note that while spending time looking at a screen or computer does not necessarily worsen eyesight, it can lead to dry eyes, itchy eyes, blurry vision and headaches. To help prevent this, consider the “BLINK 20-20-20” strategy. It’s good for kids — and adult! — during screen time:
B - BLINK: Blinking helps moisturize the eyes. Set a 20-minute timer and, when it goes off, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds while blinking and relaxing the shoulders and neck muscles. This will force the eyes to reset, refocus and relax.
L - LUBRICATE: Lubricate your eyes with artificial tears or ointment throughout the day. If you wear contact lenses, try wearing glasses while using electronic devices to reduce dryness. If your house is dry, consider using a humidifier.
I - INCHES AWAY: Keep the computer or screen an arm’s length away and at a slight downward angle from the face. Adjust the computer screen's settings, including contrast and brightness, so that it is comfortable. Avoid using screens outside or in brightly lit areas, where the glare on the screen can cause strain. Also, maintain good posture while using a screen. Poor posture can contribute to muscle tightness and headaches associated with eye strain.
N - NEAR DEVICE BREAKS: Encourage children to utilize breaks from online learning or computer use to go outside or to play. Pre-mark books with a paperclip every few chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.
K - KNOW YOUR SOURCES: Rely on eye health information from trusted sources, including your child’s pediatrician or pediatric ophthalmologist. For example, there is no scientific evidence that the light coming from computer screens is damaging to the eyes. Because of this, blue light glasses or any special eyewear for computer use are not recommended.
While children with learning disabilities may have vision problems, learning disabilities are not caused by vision problems. Therefore, things like special diets, vitamins, sugar restriction, or special glasses do not help or “cure” learning disabilities. There is also no scientific evidence that eye exercises, which are sometimes recommended for children who are having difficulty learning to read or write, work. These exercises are often called vision training or vision therapy.
Having a good vision is not only an apt metaphor for life but also a literal goal to aim for!