Myths about Children's Eye Health Dispelled
Children who sit too close to the TV or computer monitor will ruin their eyes: true or false? It’s a myth, according to physicians at The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. A team of experts have compiled a list of myths about children’s eye health for parents and others who care for young people.
Sometimes we cling to old wives’ tales or myths about health issues, neglecting to change our thinking or habits when scientists reveal updated information. Several myths surrounding children’s eye health have been circulating for decades, and it is time for parents to review what is true versus what has been held as truth when it comes to their children’s vision.
Myth: Children who sit too close to the television or computer screen will ruin their eyes. Fact: Children who have this habit likely need glasses. Although looking at television and computer screens for long periods of time can cause eye strain and fatigue, accompanied by headache, blurry vision, and red eyes, it does not cause permanent damage to children’s eyes. To reduce the risk of these symptoms, children should take a brief break from looking at the screen every 20 minutes or so. Proper lighting that minimizes screen glare is also essential.
Myth: Contact lenses are for adults only. Fact: Even infants can wear contact lenses without safety issues if parents follow the physician’s instructions. For children younger than age 10, adults need to insert, remove, and clean the lenses. Depending on the maturity of the child, those older than 10 can usually take responsibility for their own contact lenses. Children and their parents can get instructions from their ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Myth: Children should eat lots of carrots to improve their eye health. Fact: Although carrots contain vitamin A, which is an important nutrient and one that can help treat night blindness, eating lots of carrots will not improve children’s vision. A number of nutrients have been found to benefit eye health, including vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein. Foods and supplements that contain these nutrients are recommended.
Myth: Young children don’t like to wear sunglasses. Fact: Young children need to wear sunglasses because their lenses have not matured enough to adequately protect the retina from ultraviolet rays. Young children love to mimic their parents and older siblings, so make sure everyone in the family wears sunglasses. Some newer styles have strap-on frames that are easy for young children, and they come in fun colors.
Myth: Running with scissors is the main cause of eye injury in children. Fact: Most eye injuries in children are related to sports or leisure activities. Among children 14 years and younger, baseball is the sport that causes the most eye injuries in children, according to the National Eye Institute. Children ages 15 to 24 suffer eye injuries primarily related to basketball. To protect eye health in children, those who play contact sport such as baseball, basketball, and racquet sports need to wear eye protection. According to Prevent Blindness America, regular eyeglasses do not provide enough protection. Children should wear lensed polycarbonate protectors when playing contact sports.
Taking care of your children’s eye health today will help ensure they have a bright future. It is also important that they learn good eye health care at an early age so they carry the habits with them throughout their lives.
Prevent Blindness America
Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles