Saturday, December 17, 2011

Be diligent about children's eye health

Posted by Sarah Sweetz Akhza at 6:49 AM
Be diligent about children's eye health

Typically, when we think about maintaining and protecting children's health, the dentist and the doctor come most immediately to mind. Some parents may be surprised to discover, however, that regular eye exams are also critical to your child's healthcare and should be scheduled as regularly as doctor and dentist appointments.


Being diligent about children's eye care is particularly important because children's eyes are naturally more sensitive to environmental factors that can be damaging to their eyes. Consider the following:


• The average child receives three times the annual UV exposure than an adult.


• The lens of the eye of a child under age 10 allows more than six times the amount of UV radiation to penetrate than an adult's eye.


• When you protect the skin around your eyes—and everywhere else—during the first 18 years of your life, the risk of cancer is likely to be reduced by 50%.

This means that in addition to regular eye exams, you should make sure your children's eyes and skin are protected from UV rays whenever they are outside.

Rachel Hill Campbell, an optician from St. Catharines, Ontario, suggests that protecting your child's healthy sight both now and for the future can be as simple as taking a few basic precautions. Specifically, Campbell suggests the following:


• Ensure your school–age children have at least one complete eye exam a year.


• Offer your family a balanced diet high in beta–carotene.


• Wear sunscreen and UV–protective clothing, such as a wide–brimmed hat covering the eyes, ears, face and neck, and sunscreen.


• Select everyday eyewear that automatically blocks 100 percent of UV rays and helps to reduce distracting glare.


Eye care professionals (ECPs) suggest that being attentive to your child's eye health can have a tremendous impact on the quality of their eyesight both now and in the future. Seemingly small steps can reap significant eye health rewards. In reality, however, only 41 per cent of parents will always choose UV blocking lenses when selecting corrective lenses for their children.


Campbell believes health eye sight begins with education. “Parents need to understand why protecting their children's eyes is important and how to go about doing that.”


Campbell also advises parents to remember that kids are kids. “Expecting a young child to remember to change their glasses when going outside, to protect themselves against UV, may not be terribly realistic. Instead, parents might want to consider adaptive eyewear, like Transitions lenses, to help ensure their child's eyes are kept safe – no matter how active or distracted they might be!”


“Remember, says Campbell, “your child only has one pair of eyes and they must last a lifetime.”


More information and tips about healthy sight can be found online at www.eyedidntknowthat.ca or www.transitions.com

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