Children’s eyes today face a variety of quiet threats, from constant exposure to screens to a diet high in processed foods. Children are not as susceptible to dry eye disease or eye fatigue as aging adults, but they may still develop serious eye conditions.

A few eye care tips can help reduce the risk of common eye conditions in children. Helping your children to follow these tips is one of the best things you can do for their eye health.

1. Reduce Screen Time

A 2021 study has linked prolonged screen time in children with a higher risk of myopia. Not only that, but the children with the most screen time were more likely to develop a more severe form of the condition.

The rise in myopia is a global epidemic and one of the major threats to vision loss. It has also been linked to dry eye disease because of the blinking pattern changes it causes.

Screens can also cause digital eye strain, a condition that can make your child’s eyes dry, red, and itchy.

Asking your child to just stop using their phone or watching TV isn’t the best idea. Rather, you want to create tech-free zones in your house, for example one day a week. Also, consider setting screen time limits, including no screens before bedtime.

2. Encourage Your Kids to Spend Time in the Sun

A recent Taiwanese study investigated the effects of time spent outdoors on first grade school children. It found that children who spent 11 hours a week outdoors had a lower risk of developing myopia as well as a reduced risk of rapid myopia progression.

In the study, short exposure to intense sunlight was as effective as longer exposure to moderate sunlight such as under trees.

Good to know: Lack of sleep can also contribute to myopia. Learn more about the link between myopia, lack of sleep, and screen time.

parents helping her young daughter ride a bicycle outdoors on a sunny day with green trees in the background

A systematic review on outdoor exposure and myopia indicators suggests that sunlight exposure has multiple benefits for the eyes. It prevents eye elongation, regulates the sclera (the protective white covering of the eye), and supports refractive development by promoting the skin’s production of vitamin D.

Sunlight, in moderation, also contributes to overall health. It supports healthy bones and the immune system, and it improves mood.

3. Inspire Your Kids to Stay Active

Active children are less likely to put on extra weight. With that comes better overall health. Getting your kids to be active outdoors means that they will spend less time in front of screens and more time in the sun.

One of the best ways to get your kids to move more is to arrange outdoor events that you can join in. Hikes, sports, cycling, or long walks in the park are all great ways to keep your kids moving.

4. Get Your Kids Sunglasses They Will Enjoy Wearing

As we’ve seen, children need sunlight. But at the same time, children’s eyes are vulnerable to UV rays. Direct exposure to too much sun modifies lens proteins and can damage the eyes.

This damage is cumulative and insidious – it may not become apparent right away. But later in life it can lead to vision loss through cataracts or macular degeneration.

When buying sunglasses for your children, check that they provide at least 99% UV protection. It’s worth investing in a scratch-resistant, sturdy pair of sunglasses that can take a beating since they will likely be dropped sooner than later.

Good to know: Learn more about why you should wear sunglasses and discover the best types of sunglasses

5. Discourage Eye Rubbing

Children who often rub their eyes may be at a higher risk of suffering an eye infection. Children often touch all manner of surfaces during the day and may not always wash their hands.

Germs can easily get into the eye during the process of rubbing. What’s more, intensive rubbing could increase intraocular pressure and damage the surface of the eye.

If your child often rubs their eyes, it could be a sign that they have developed an eye condition such as dry eye or digital eye strain.

6. Take Your Children to Regular Eye Exams

Children should get an eye exam every two years, or more often if they have an eye condition. A comprehensive eye exam doesn’t take long and is painless.

It can help uncover common refractive errors, more serious conditions like amblyopia, as well as any underlying causes for eye fatigue or dry eye disease (also known as dry eye syndrome).

young boy in shirt holding magnifying glass over one eye outdoors with blurry field and trees in the background

Dry eye syndrome in children can occur because of underlying medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases like Sjogren syndrome or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, congenital disorders, or ocular allergies.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that screens are a risk factor for pediatric dry eye disease. Vitamin A deficiency, whether due to malnutrition, restrictive diets, or eating disorders may also contribute to dry eye disease in kids.

Dry eye symptoms in children include frequent eye rubbing, stinging, itching, burning, and a dry sensation in the eye. Frequent eye rubbing can often be a telltale sign of dry eye disease in children.

7. Ask Them to Wear Protective Eyewear When Playing Sports

Eye injuries are a common cause of temporary and sometimes permanent vison loss. They often occur during sports and other forms of outdoor play that children engage in. Many sports injuries can be prevented using simple protective eyewear.

Grab a pair of protective eyewear that your kid enjoys wearing. If your child is small, you could even invent a superpower around the glasses to encourage them to wear them more.

Tell them that whenever they put them on, they grow a little taller, a little stronger. Or that when they use it, they move faster.

Good to know: Eye injuries can happen when you least expect them. Read our guide to eye injuries to be prepared for an eye emergency, however unlikely. 

8. Create a Healthy Diet

Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that protect the eyes from free radicals that occur naturally or as a result of pollution and UV damage. Blueberries and carrots are just two examples of great foods for the eyes – encourage your children to eat them regularly.

Also, fatty fish like salmon has omega-3 fatty acids that promote the function of the tear glands.

At the same time, you want to make sure that your child eats as little processed food and junk food as possible. These are devoid of nutrients and loaded with unhealthy fats and calories that contribute to weight gain and may promote inflammation in the body.

Systemic inflammation has been associated with age-related macular degeneration, dry eye disease, and other eye diseases.

9. Give Your Kids an Eye Health Supplement

A healthy diet with plenty of nutrients is important for your children’s eyes to stay healthy. However, getting children to eat enough fruits and vegetables while avoiding junk food can be challenging to say the least.

An eye health supplement like SightVita Kids Gummies can help. Formulated for children and teens, these gummies provide vitamins A, C, D, zinc, beta carotene, and other nutrients that support vision health and could help prevent dry eyes in children. They have a delicious orange flavor and are easy to take at home or at school.

Keep your kids’ eyes healthy with SightVita Kids Gummies.

little girl with dark hair and big black eyes blowing soap bubbles against blurry green background

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