August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, which is an awareness month dedicated to the importance of eye health and exams for children anywhere between the ages of 3 and 18. Many people overlook eye health unless there are obvious signs of vision problems, like eye rubbing, squinting, or discomfort. When homeschooling and online learning this year, you should ensure your child’s eye health is in good condition and remains that way by following some suggestions below!
Get Eye Exams
Children should have their eyes checked each year, beginning around age three. Eye doctors can determine if children have refractive errors, like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or any of the following eye diseases:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)
- Color deficiency (color blindness)
Like a physical, children need to get regular eye exams to make sure there are no noticeable changes in their vision health as they age. If your child does experience any refractive errors, you can get them new prescription eyeglasses just in time for homeschool this fall. Choosing the perfect pair of eyeglasses has never been easier; you can sit down together as a family and order them online anytime. Starting homeschool and online learning with their new glasses can make it easier for kids to read, write, and interact with digital devices, not to mention there are plenty of styles available for kids of all ages to express themselves.
Also, if children are experiencing symptoms of any of the aforementioned eye diseases, seeing an ophthalmologist is the best option, as early detection is key to treating them most effectively.
Watch for Signs of Vision Issues
Some tell-tale signs of vision issues include headaches, excessive blinking, eye rubbing, and fatigue. Dry eyes can also be a significant sign of an eye condition. It has been proven that when people read, particularly on digital devices, their blink rate decreases down to 5 to 10 times per minute, leading to dry eyes that cause discomfort.
Therefore to improve your children’s eye health, lower the brightness of screens, avoid glare on screens, avoid using digital devices outside, distance oneself from screens, read in well-lit areas, and take breaks from reading frequently.
Take Frequent Breaks
While homeschooling today, children are likely to engage with both screens and physical materials. Although it is more common to experience dry eyes from decreased blinking while engaging with digital devices, it’s also possible to experience it over engaging with physical materials, like books or assignments.
For greater academic performance, children should take regular breaks from learning throughout the day. When possible, offer children the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in between lessons. Not only is fresh air and exercise good for them, when kids play outside, they are also exposed to UVB rays, which trigger the release of dopamine in the retina, circulate vitamin D in the body, and ultimately help protect their eyes against myopia, better known as nearsightedness.
Keep a Healthy Distance From Screens
Many children hold the screen closer to their face when using smartphones because it is a smaller screen. Similarly, when engaging with computer screens, children tend to slouch forward and become very close to their screen when working on a task or assignment. Not only does sitting closer to the screen risk damaging your children’s eye health even more, but it also risks poor posture in the neck, shoulders, and back.
When using a smartphone or tablet for online learning, make sure children hold them at arm’s length and not right in front of their faces. Similarly, when using a laptop or desktop, make sure they sit upright and not fall forward toward the screen. After a while, the close encounter can lead to fatigue of the eye muscles, which can cause headaches or other vision problems. The further away from the screen they are, the better off their eyes will be.
Addressing any vision problems or concerns now can set children up for a healthy school year. Don’t overlook vision care—early detection is the best-case scenario for children’s overall eye health!
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…