The eye develops between the 3rd and 10th week of the fetus inside the uterus. Within this time period, the eye goes through changes that are crucial in ensuring that your baby’s eyes don’t develop abnormally. Certain aspects of vision like visual accommodation, which is how the eye adjusts so as to bring images into focus, develop after birth and your baby will experience various visual milestones through their infancy stages. It’s important to notice that just even as normal developmental childhood milestones like walking occur at a special pace for each child, so does every baby’s visual milestones.
Young children are predisposed to a myriad of eye conditions like near or far-sightedness, lazy eye, misalignment of the eyes and developmental abnormalities like a strangely small eye, just to mention a few.
I believe that we all want to do our best to be ahead of any health-related situations that can potentially affect our children. So here are some tips I can share to assist you be more in charge of the visual health of your young one(s).
Avoid eye infections
Teach your child to avoid touching or rubbing their eyes so as to avoid creating an entry for bacteria.
Prevent eye injuries
Avoid toys with sharp edges or toys made of plastic that easily break.
Baby proof cabinets around the house to avoid your child getting household chemicals like bleach and pesticides into their eyes.
Insist on the importance of your child wearing protective eyewear as they engage in sports such as swimming.
Limit your child’s use of digital screens. Keep screens 45cm-50cm away from their eyes and encourage them to use the 20-20-20 rule; look up from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Provide a balanced diet
Vitamin A which can be acquired from green leafy vegetables assists in preventing the development of night blindness.
Fruits with Vitamin C and E such as mangoes and oranges can help in resolving infections and in the rejuvenation of eye tissue.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can prevent a dry eye and reduce risks of acquiring a cataract, which is a condition in which the lens of the eye progressively becomes opaque resulting in blurred vision.
Zinc which can be acquired from whole grains, red meat, poultry and milk products, plays a role in bringing Vitamin A from the liver and into the eye in order to produce melanin which protects some of the blood vessels in the eye from damage leading to protection from eventual degeneration of structures within the eye.
Boost your child’s visual engagement
The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends the following vision improving activities for different age groups:
0-5months: peekaboo for enhanced hand-and-eye coordination
6-8months: reading to your child and playing hide-and-seek with toys
9-12months: reading to your child and rolling a ball back and forth
1 year: throwing a ball to your child and reading to him or her
2 years: reading to your child and outdoor playing
- years: climbing, running and using playground equipment
7 years and older: cycling and other active sports
Look out for warning signs
Certain signs can enable you to detect an underlying eye problem in your child. They include squinting, eye rubbing, poor hand-eye coordination, sensitivity to light, disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects, holding objects very close to the eyes and head tilting.
Get a routine eye examination
If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs or your child complains of blurry vision and frequent headaches, this could possibly be an impending eye problem.
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