For enjoying a lifetime of healthy eyes, one has to start early
Visual impairment and blindness are two conditions affecting a large percentage of population worldwide. Though some of the causes behind these conditions are hereditary, a large number of causes are preventable. Many of these causes can be directly attributed to how we use our eyes during our childhood. According to experts, for enjoying a lifetime of healthy eyes and a good vision, one has to start early in life.
Studies have shown that myopia (shortsightedness) is more common in children who spend more time reading compared to those who spend long hours outside. This does not mean that children should be discouraged from studying. Rather, it is important to inculcate healthy reading habits in them. The children should be encouraged to hold their books at an optimal distance from the eyes to prevent eye strain. This distance is about 18 to 22 inches. The room where the children are reading should be well lit. They should be taught to take a break every five minutes to focus on some distant object. This help in relaxing the eyes.
We all know that children should go for a dental checkup every six months irrespective of whether they are suffering from any dental problem or not. However, very few of us are aware of the fact that children should also get regular eye exams. According to experts, most of the eye conditions, whether hereditary or acquired subsequently, can be best managed if the child undergoes an eye examination as early as possible. In fact, the American Optometric Association has an entire recommended schedule for eye examination of children. According to it, the first eye exam should be taken before the child turns one. The child should also undergo an eye examination before joining school to test his visual skills.
Healthy eating habits in children go a long way in preserving eyesight. Regular intake of green vegetables and fresh fruits provides a steady supply of antioxidant vitamins. The deficiency of these vitamins has been associated with macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness in the elderly. Similarly, intake of omega-3 fatty acids is also essential for a proper vision.
It is important for children to wear sunglasses or hats while going out in the sun as their lens are more susceptible to damage caused by UV rays, leading to the development of premature cataracts.