As most of us know, the health of our eyes directly impacts our vision. For that reason, optimal eye health is vital, even as young as toddlerhood. Healthy eyes play a crucial role in all aspects of a toddler’s development. If his eyes do not receive the care they need, the impact can be permanent.
Caring for your toddler’s eyes is easier than you may think. Here are some tips that will help you keep your child’s eyes healthy during this important stage of development.
1. Regular eye exams
Schedule regular eye exams for your toddler. Your child should visit a pediatric ophthalmologist once at the age of 3, and then again at the age of 5. If your toddler was a preemie, or if there is a family history of eye problems, more frequent eye exams are a good idea.
During an eye examination, an ophthalmologist will check your child’s vision and assess the overall health of her eyes. Some key things that the doctor will look for include:
- Nearsightedness (Myopia)
- Amblyopia, or lazy eye, which can cause decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Strabismus, or misalignment of the eyes
Using a small light, the doctor will examine the pupils and the alignment of the eyes. A scope will be used to check for abnormalities in the back of the eye.
2. Provide sunglasses
Make sure your toddler wears sunglasses to block out the damaging effects of the sun. UV rays can damage the lens of the eye, as well as the cornea, which can seriously damage vision, over time, and can even lead to cancer of the eye.
When purchasing sunglasses for your toddler, choose a pair that have UV-blocking lenses. You can purchase sunglasses at a local retailer or a pediatric optometrist. You will find that there are plenty of fun designs and colors to choose from! If you are nervous that your child will remove or lose his sunglasses, you can purchase a strap that attaches to them, keeping them in place.
3. Limit screen time
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children under the age of 2 should not have any screen time. Whether your child has been watching television and playing with technological devices before the age of 2, or you are just introducing it to your toddler, limiting the amount of screen time is crucial.
Too much time spent watching TV, playing on computers and interacting with smartphones and tablets can adversely affect the health of your child’s eyes. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain and other issues, particularly in toddlers, whose eyes are still developing. Create screen-free zones in your home, and monitor the amount of time your child spends using technology.
4. Watch for signs of trouble
- Excessive rubbing of the eyes
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Inability to focus
- Problematic visual tracking, or following an object with the eyes
- Chronic redness of the eyes
- Chronic tearing of the eyes
- A pupil that is white instead of black
If you notice any of these signs in your toddler, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or a pediatric ophthalmologist as soon as possible. The sooner the eyes are assessed, the sooner your child can receive the necessary treatment to improve the health of his eyes.
Eye health is important at all stages of life, particularly toddlerhood. By keeping your toddler’s eyes healthy, you can ensure optimal development and keen eyesight.