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Role of Parents in Children's eye care

Parenthood Magazine July'13 issue





ROLE OF PARENTS IN CHILDREN’S EYE CARE


Parents play an important role in children’s eye health which is equally important to their general health. Regular eye examination  is useful to detect early treatable eye conditions.

Here are some guidelines on the eye examination schedule :-

First eye screening should be done when the child is born,  normally by the Paediatrician in charge.

Next screening should be at the preschool age at around 4-5 years old to detect any refractive error or any existing eye diseases.

Subsequent checkup is during primary school or before entering primary one which is usually at the age of  7-8 years old.

Thereafter checkup should be when necessary.

A child who wear glasses should have annual checkup.


These are the signs that should alert you when your child is suffering from eye problems:-

Eye straining
Eye squeezing
Constant eye rubbing
Light sensitivity
Poor focusing
Abnormal head posture
Abnormal eye alignment after 6 months of age
Frequent red eyes
Frequent tearing
Holding reading material close to the eyes


Here are some guidelines for the parents who have children wearing glasses:-

Plastic lenses are recommended for children as it is not easily broken like glass lenses but they scratch easily.

Children with higher degree of power may need high index lenses which are thinner and lighter.

Let the children pick their own frames, this will motivate them to use their glasses.

For children less than 2 years old, plastic frames are preferred.

If your child choose to have metal frames make sure they have spring hinges which are more durable.


For active child, a strap that attached to the glasses is helpful.

Make sure you consult your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist if you are not sure whether your child should wear his/her glasses full time or when necessary.



Facts about contact lens wear in children:-

Contact lens use is not contraindicated in children. Certain eye conditions like post congenital cataract removal and keratoconus need contact lens wear as a form of treatment. 

Contact lens wear is also a choice of treatment in controlling  the progression of myopia ( shortsightedness).

For older children who prefer not to wear contact lenses during day time, orthokeratology is an alternative to glasses. Orthokeratology is wearing a special contact lens, called as gas permeable contact lens overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea to reduce the myopia. After removal of the lenses, your child is able to see clearly during daytime without any aid.


For some children who desire to wear contact lens for sports or cosmetic reason, recommended age is 10 years or above. They must be educated on how to insert and remove the lenses, provided they are reliable enough to take care of contact lens hygiene. Regular checkup by optician, optometrist or eye specialist is necessary.


Computer and Other Devices Use in Children:-

With the emergence of computers, ipads, tablets and iphone, parents are getting worry about how their usage  will affect their children’s eyes. However children today require computers as part of their education and daily basis at school and at home.  Excessive and prolonged use can cause eye focusing ( accommodative) problems, headache and eye irritation. Here are some advices for the parents:-

A short break of 5 minutes in every 30 minutes use of computer can minimize the eye focusing problems.
Get an adjustable chair to adjust the child’s eye level in relation to the monitor and keyboard position. For hand-held devices, they should be held at reading distance about 40 cm away from the eye.

Make sure that the lighting in the room is comfortable.

Adjust the monitor to minimize glare and reflections from the screen. Windows or light sources should not be directed to the monitor.

Children often have poor self-awareness and not able to limit themselves in using the computers. Parents can create a schedule and limit their computer activity. For example, for preschool or primary school age, half hour use during weekdays and one hour during weekends. For secondary school age, 1 hour use during weekdays and 2 hour during weekends.

Computer use has its advanvtages in children too. Reserachers proved that preschoolers who use computers perform better on measures of school readiness, visual mototr skills and cognitive development. Nowadays, many useful educational software are available and even the sofware programmes for lazy eye treatment is available.

Foods For Your Children’s Eyes:-

Carrots is a good source of Vitamin A, antioxidant beta carotene, potassium and fiber. 

Sweet potatoes also rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene. They are easy to prepare and children love their sweet taste.

Strawberries can provide Vitamin C, Vitamin B and fiber.

Oranges contain Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, folate and rich in fibers.

Almonds provides Vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids.

Spinach contains lutein, iron, vitamin K and folate.

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acis.

Others: Brocoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, apples, pears, tuna,  eggs, nuts, beans and milk.