March is National Save Your Vision Month

Kid Wearing SunglassesAt Real Kids Shades, we’re on a mission to protect young eyes from the sun’s harmful rays by creating comfortable, stylish sunglasses designed specifically for kids. That’s why we’re thrilled to observe National Save Your Vision Month in conjunction with the American Optometric Association (AOA). Today, we’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the importance of comprehensive eye exams, and offer some helpful suggestions on ways to preserve your children’s vision for the future.

Why do kids need comprehensive eye exams?

In a perfect world, everyone would receive an annual eye exam, but these health screenings are especially important for kids. That’s because one in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem, according to the AOA. Changes in eyesight can happen quickly in growing eyes, but these changes often go unnoticed by kids and their parents. An eye exam with an optometrist can identify subtle changes in a child’s vision, and prescribe corrective lenses if necessary.

What does a comprehensive eye exam entail?

In addition to administering a standard vision test, your optometrist will also test for a number of common health problems during the course of the exam. In general, you can expect your optometrist to test for the following issues:

  • Refractive Errors—In this most basic test, your eye doctor will determine whether your child needs their vision corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses due to nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.
  • Eye Teaming Problems—Strabismus, a condition where the eyes are crossed, is just one type of eye teaming problem. Even when eyes appear properly aligned, they may still struggle to work together. If left unchecked, this can lead to eye strain, headaches and vision impairment.
  • Eye Diseases—Many diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, begin with no symptoms. Your optometrist can detect these conditions in their early stages to prevent permanent vision loss.
  • Health Problems—Your optometrist can identify signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other health problems by examining the eyes’ blood vessels and retinas.

What else can you do to protect your child’s vision?

In between their annual exams, you should also watch out for common signs and symptoms of vision issues in kids. Although isolated symptoms may not be indicative of a vision problem, you should consider scheduling a follow-up exam if you notice a combination of any of the following symptoms:

  • A dislike of reading or a tendency to hold reading materials close to the face.
  • A habit of sitting too close to the television.
  • Difficulty playing catch, tying shoes or copying from the whiteboard.
  • Frequent blinking or rubbing of the eyes.
  • Frequent headaches.
  • A tendency to cover one eye or tilt the head to one side while focusing on text or objects.

These days, it’s also important to be mindful of your child’s computer habits.

Boy Using a LaptopAccording to the AOA, Computer Vision Syndrome describes “a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.” Also known as Digital Eye Strain, this condition can cause discomfort and vision problems when looking at screens for extended periods of time. To prevent these issues, the AOA suggests that parents should follow a few simple guidelines to help their children establish good computer habits early in life.

  • Use the 20-20-20 Rule—Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20-second rest by looking at something that’s 20 feet away.
  • Adjust Font Sizes—When using hand-held devices, increase the font size rather than bringing the device closer to your face to read what’s on the screen.
  • Decrease Glare—Eliminate as much glare as possible to make reading on digital screens easier on the eyes. Using a blue light filter at night can make a big difference.
  • Proper Workstation Setup—An ergonomic workstation setup can also help to prevent eye strain when using a computer. This guide from UCLA offers detailed instructions on how to make your child’s workstation as comfortable and eye-friendly as possible.

Finally, be sure to protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses when they go outside.

Girl in SunglassesThe sun’s UV rays constitute one of the most common threats to young people’s vision. Every child should have the opportunity to get outside and explore on sunny days, but they don’t have to put their vision at risk in the process. A good pair of sunglasses with full-spectrum UV protection is all you need to make sure your child’s eyes are safe when they go outside. At Real Kids Shades, we offer children’s sunglasses in a variety of colors and styles, so you can be sure to find a pair that your child will love to wear. They also feature shatterproof lenses and flexible frames that are perfect for kids with active lifestyles.

This month, we can all do our part to protect our children’s vision and make sure they have the opportunity grow up with happy, healthy eyes.

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