While businesses are slowly reopening and many communities are transitioning away from stay-at-home policies, many parents are going into Summer 2020 with limited daycare options and uncertainty about the fall school semester. That’s putting added pressure on moms and dads to ensure their children continue to develop good vision and visual habits.
“When parents are working from home, they can’t be on top of their kids all the time,” explains Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center in Las Vegas. “That’s why it’s important to lay down some ground rules for kids – especially when it comes to devices – that will reduce their risk of nearsightedness, digital eyestrain, and other eye problems.”
Developing Good Vision in Infants and Toddlers
Building vital visual skills at home begins in the early years. Childhood activities such as using scissors, drawing, painting, handwriting; and playing with puzzles, matching and memory games can improve hand-eye coordination in infants and toddlers.
Likewise, reading aloud to children and letting them follow along on the page can improve their ability to recognize letters and words. Playing with chalks and paints will further develop their cognitive skills, helping them identify colors and experiment with patterns.
For children learning to use crayons and other writing tools, Dr. Velasco recommends setting up a workplace inside the home, with proper seating to promote healthy posture. The goal is to encourage good habits that will ensure healthy vision as they grow.
“If your child is working at a desk with overhead lighting, consider adding a task light to illuminate their work,” Dr. Velasco says. “It’s important that they aren’t writing on the floor or in a chair without a desk.
“With the right setup, a child will develop good posture and eye alignment.”
How to Limit Screen Time During the Summer
The more time children are spending indoors this summer, the more they may rely on smartphones and tablets to keep them entertained. Dr. Velasco warns against spending more than 20 minutes on a device without a break.
“When it comes to devices and computer screens, children, and parents, should observe the 20-20-20 rule,” she says. “Every 20 minutes, look far away at least 20 feet, and blink for 20 seconds before you continue.”
Enjoy the Sunshine, But Not Too Much
It’s easier to pull teeth than pull a young person away from a device, but Dr. Velasco says kids need to get outside for at least one hour every day. Not only are they getting fresh air, but they’re reducing their risk of Myopia (nearsightedness).
However, Dr. Velasco urges kids to wear sunglasses with wide lenses and to keep them on at all times when they’re outdoors, even on cloudy days.
“Sunglasses are important not only during the summer, but all year long,” she says. “Children’s eyes, especially the crystalline lens of the eye, are more susceptible to ultraviolet radiation damage than adults.”
Overexposure to UV rays can lead to a painful condition known as Photokeratitis. In simpler terms, it’s a sunburn on your eyes.
Protect Your Eyes in the Pool
Lastly, Dr. Velasco says parents need to be mindful of their children in the pool and ensure they use protective goggles while swimming. Opening your eyes underwater can be harmful.
“Chemicals in pools are very irritating to the eyes,” she says. “If you happen to get pool water in your eyes and it causes irritation, it is best to rinse your eyes out with sterile saline solution. If the eye irritation continues, please make an appointment at iFocus Vision Center”
iFocus Vision Center remains open with strict guidelines in place to protect patients and staff members. Patients with an urgent need are seen by appointment only and we are offering curbside pickup for eyeglasses or contact lens refills. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 702-473-5660.