Summer is Here!
When I was a kid, the last day of school consisted of cleaning out my desk and cubby area, saying goodbye to teachers and friends, and heading home to enjoy months of freedom! Even though I enjoyed school, I enjoyed being at the pool, staying up late, and having sleepovers any day of the week. When you are on summer break, you tend to forget what day of the week it is because, hey, it doesn’t really matter.
Nowadays, kids have a different idea of what summer is all about. No longer do our kids have “freedom” during the summer, but instead have schedules of volleyball camp, science camp, and commissioner’s school. Their summers are full of activities that keep them going and going. Even if they are not attending summer camp, children’s hobbies have changed immensely throughout the years. Instead of going outside to play, most kids resort to video games, iPads, and television for entertainment. It may not be obvious, but excessive use of digital devices is much harder on the eyes than playing board games or playing outside. Since all of these changes are directly affecting our children, here are a few tips to protect your children’s vision this summer.
Limit Device Use
There seems to be an abundance of downtime during the summer for children, either in the car or at home. Do not let this time become bombarded with digital devices by default. All children, no matter what age, are at risk for digital eye strain and vision problems that result from handheld digital devices and video games. The standard recommendation is to limit device use to no more than 20 minutes at a time, then at least a 5-minute break focusing on objects and tasks that do not require digital attention. Be aware that excessive reading can cause eye strain as well, so it is a good idea to take a break after 20-25 minutes of book-reading.
Sunglasses and Sunscreen
When you take your child to the beach or pool, you make sure that you have slathered them up in plenty of protective sunscreen. Keep in mind, though, that this protection should include sunglasses. Just like skin can be sunburned, eyes can be sunburned with too much sunlight in one day. Even on a cloudy day, UV rays and glare from the small remnants of the sun can cause cataracts and macular degeneration to develop later on in life. Make sure that your kids are wearing sunglasses that protect from harmful UV rays and glare and make sure that they fit properly.
All of the warnings about sun exposure can tempt a parent and child to just stay indoors at all times. This can leave your child at a higher risk of developing myopia, nearsightedness, because of the inability to gaze at long distances indoors. Even if the kids aren’t at the pool or active in sports, make sure they get outside for a quick walk after dinner or play with the dog in the backyard. This way, their eyes can adjust to longer distances of vision and decrease their risk of developing myopia.
Eye Protection during Activities
Regular glasses are not appropriate for children to wear during every activity. Glasses are not designed to resist high levels of impact. Sports glasses are key for children who play a variety of sports because they are impact resistant and fit closer to the face, similar to goggles, keeping sharp metal frames away from the face and allowing breathable, comfortable plastic frames to surround the eyes. In the mindset of goggles, be sure to equip your children with properly-fitted swim goggles for afternoons at the pool. These goggles will protect children’s eyes from the high levels of chlorine found in public pools or water parks, which can lead to irritated, red and light-sensitive eyes.
With all of these tips in mind, stay safe and have fun this summer!