Keep Your Children’s Eyes Healthy

Keep Your Children’s Eyes Healthy

Keep Your Children’s Eyes Healthy

Lee esto en EspañolTaking care of your eyes is important at every age. Start your children off right by protecting their eyes and eyesight.

Vision Screening for Children

Children's eyes are growing and changing quickly. Vision screening is an important part of tracking changes and making sure their eyes are healthy. Get started early with vision screenings and eye exams leaving site icon for your child.

Your child’s doctor will check your child’ s eyes at a yearly well child visit. The American Academy of Pediatrics says doctors should test vision yearly from ages 3 to 6, then at ages 8, 10, 12 and 15. Results from the screenings will show whether a full eye exam is needed.

What You Can Look For

The American Academy of Pediatrics says to let your child's doctor know if your child complains of itchy or painful eyes or if your child’s eyelids droop. Also let the doctor know if your child’s eyes:

  • Look crossed or turn out or if they don't focus together.
  • Have a pupil that is white or gray-white in color.
  • Flutter quickly, either up and down or from side to side.
  • Are red for more than a few days.
  • Are crusty or always watery.
  • Appear overly sensitive to light.
What You Can Do

Start by making sure your child has the right nutrients to keep eyes healthy. A healthy diet overall is important. That can help prevent obesity and high blood pressure, which have been linked to higher risk for eye diseases.

Specific nutrients that support eye health include zinc, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C and E. Foods with these nutrients include:

  • Fruits with vitamins C and E, such as oranges, strawberries and mangos, can help fix tissues and prevent infections.
  • Fish with omega-3 fatty acid. They can prevent dry eye and reduce future chances of cataracts.
  • Leafy greens containing Vitamin A, like kale and spinach. They can help fight dry eye and night blindness.
  • Non-meat proteins such as eggs and nuts.

Protect Eyes with Proper Eyewear
Studies show most about 90 percent — pediatric eye injuries can be prevented. Be sure to have children wear protective eyewear made with shatterproof plastic, called polycarbonate lenses. Look for eyewear that meets the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. And check for hazards where your children play.

Limit Use of Digital Screens
Screens from computers, tablets and mobile phones are a big part of children’s lives now. Teach kids to keep their screens 18 to 24 inches from their eyes. Encourage your child to follow the 20-20-20 rule. That means to look up from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Tips for Healthy Eyes at Any Age

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these additional tips to promote good vision and protect eyes:

Get enough sleep. Our bodies recharge as we sleep, and that includes our eyes. Not getting enough sleep can mean eyes don’t heal as well from everyday eye strain, dry air and irritants like allergens and pollutants.

Spend time outdoors. Just like other muscles in the body, the muscles in the eyes need time to relax. Going outdoors lets you look at objects in the distance, which gives eyes a chance to rebound from eye strain. Bonus for kids: Playing outdoors also helps kids stay physically active. And they’ll get vital vitamin D from the sun.

Wear sunglasses. Protect the eyes from the sun. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can harm eyes over time. Make sure you and your child wear sunglasses that have 100 percent UV protection.

You can promote good eye health for everyone in the family. Make regular eye exams a healthy tradition for your family.

Wellness Guidelines: An Easy Path to Better Health for the Whole Family

We offer Wellness Guidelines each year that include specific recommendations for preventive care, immunizations and screenings for adults and children. Check out the Wellness Guidelines to find out what preventive care you and your family need to stay healthy. 

Sources: Eye Exam and Vision Testing Basics, leaving site icon American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022; Eye Screening for Children, leaving site icon American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2021; Warning Signs of Vision Problems in Infants & Childrenleaving site icon  American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016; 6 Ways to Be Proactive About Your Child's Eye Health, leaving site icon Johns Hopkins Medicine; Keep an Eye on Your Child’s Vision, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022