Happy August and happy Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month! With the summer coming to a fast close and the stores beginning to fill with new notebooks, pens and pencils, it’s important to get your children ready for the school year in all aspects, including their eye health and eye safety. According to the American Optometric Association, if your child isn’t at risk, an exam prior to first grade and every other year after is recommended but if your child is at risk of developing eye/vision problems, an annual exam is highly suggested. The National Eye Institute states “eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States and most injuries occurring in school-aged children are sports-related”, wearing and protecting your child’s eyes for school sports goes unnoticed but the statistics are quite alarming and having the appropriate protection is essential. Take note of the following so you and your family can start the school year off with healthy vision!
What are the signs and symptoms of a vision problem?
Having your child suffer from vision problems can really interfere with learning and in order for your child to excel this school year, having an appointment with your eye doctor and knowing the signs and symptoms of poor vision is crucial. Common signs and symptoms of vision problems include:
- Short attention span
- Avoiding reading and other close activities
- Frequent headaches
- Covering one eye
- Tilting the head to one side
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- Losing place when reading
- Difficulty remembering what he or she read
Although your child may be receiving a school screening, many schools only test for distance visual acuity. If your child receives a 20/20 on their school screening, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t suffer from a vision problem. Aside from distance visual acuity, other types of visual problems include nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism (blurry vision) and color deficiency. If you or your doctor suspect that your child may be suffering from a vision problem, a visit to your local Ophthalmologist is highly suggested.
What school sports cause the most eye injuries? (estimated injuries 2016 calendar year)
Estimated eye injuries for the year of 2016, as reported by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission posted on preventblindness.org rake in with water and pool activities ending the year with 6,351, basketball had 5,751, baseball at 2,473, soccer with 1,745 and football had 1,250 and that’s just 5 sports. The statistical data shows 22 sports with a grand total of 34,745 injuries in the year of 2016. Having the right eye protection is such an important step in preventing eye injuries that could lead to infection or even blindness. Most programs have yet to make eye protection a mandatory part of the game. Some states have raised the argument but, being able to be one step ahead can make all the difference between your child enjoying their school program or being sidelined for the rest of the season.
How can I keep my child’s eyes safe for school sports?
Preventblindness.org has great advice on how to avoid sports eye injuries. Below are just a few steps in finding the right gear for proper prevention:
- Wear proper safety goggles (lensed polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports or basketball. In order to be assured that your eyes are protected, it is important that any eye guard or sports protective eyewear are labeled as ASTM F803 approved. This eyewear is performance tested to give you the highest levels of protection.
- Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for youth baseball.
- Use helmets and face shields approved by the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association when playing hockey.
If your child already wears glasses, be sure to know that regular, everyday glasses are not the proper protection and can sometimes cause more harm than actually protecting the eyes.
At the Nielsen Eye Center, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy start to the new school year but if you child does have what you suspect to be a vision problem or they sustain an eye injury in the upcoming training season for football, cheerleading or soccer etc. contact one of our qualified Ophthalmologists to make an appointment. We are dedicated to helping you, your family and your vision. Give us a call today at 617-471-5665 to be fully prepared for the 2017/2018 Academic year!