Along with back-to-school supply shopping, August is the perfect time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your children. In fact, August is designated as Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!
As a rule of thumb, children should have their eyes examined during well-child visits, beginning around age 3. Your child’s doctor can detect refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. If you or your doctor suspects that your child may have a vision problem, you can make an appointment with a local ophthalmologist for further testing.
Here are some warning signs that may indicate your child has a vision problem:
- Wandering or crossed eyes
- A family history of childhood vision problems
- Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
- Squinting or turning the heat in an unusual manner while watching television
Keeping your Child’s Eyes Safe
Eye safety is another part of maintaining healthy vision. According The National Eye Institute, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children the United State. These injuries account for an estimated 100,000 physician visits per year at a cost of more than $175 million.
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for preventing eye injuries:
- Children should wear sports eye protectors made with polycarbonate lenses for baseball, basketball, football, racquet sports, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, paintball.
- All chemicals and sprays must be kept out of reach of small children.
- Parents and others who provide care and supervision for children need to practice safe use of common items that can cause serious eye injury, such as paper clips, pencils, scissors, bungee cords, wire coat hangers and rubber bands.
- Teach your children to be eye smart by safeguarding your own sight with American National Standards Institute- approved protective eyewear during potentially dangerous yard work and household repairs or projects.
- Only purchase age-appropriate toys.
- Avoid projectile toys such as darts, bows and arrows, and missile-firing toys.
- Look for toys marked with "ASTM", which means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Pad or cushion sharp corners. Put locks on all cabinets and drawers that kids can reach.
- Do not allow your children to play with non-powder rifles, pellet guns or BB guns. They are extremely dangerous and have been reclassified as firearms and removed from toy departments.
- Do not allow children anywhere near fireworks, especially bottle rockets. These fireworks pose a serious risk of eye injury and have been banned in several states.
- When very small children (age 4 and younger) are bitten by dogs, eye injuries occur about 15 percent of the time. The dog is usually one the child is familiar with, and second attacks by the same dog are likely to cause more serious injury. It is recommended that any dog that bites a child be removed from the household.
- On the road, make sure children are properly secured in baby carriers and child safety seats and that the seat and shoulder belts fit well. Children age 12 and younger should never ride in the front seat. Store loose items in the trunk or secured on the floor, as any loose object can become a dangerous projectile in a crash.
Help your children have a successful school year by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam and taking safety measures to ensure their eyes are free from injury.
Colorado Community Health Alliance (CCHA) care coordinators can help you connect with a provider, assess your needs and gain access to resources to help you manage your family’s health.
Call CCHA Member Support Services
303-256-1717 | 719-598-1540 | 1-855-627-4685 (TTY 711)
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.