two young girls playing role play as doctor and patient

August 30, 2017

Eye Health 101: A Lesson in Healthy Vision

Be Healthy

Back-to-school time also means it’s back to the books. 

However, for some children, reading and writing can be difficult due to an undiagnosed vision problem, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. 

“Often, the first sign of a vision problem can be when children enter school and have assigned seating in a classroom,” says Dr. Carl Yu, a pediatrician at Kauai Medical Clinic. 

Other common eye diseases include the following:

  • Lazy eye (amblyopia).
  • Crossed eyes (strabismus).
  • Drooping of the eyelid (ptosis).
  • Color blindness/color deficiency. 

The best time to have your children’s vision checked is during their well-child visits, usually beginning at age 3. During these exams, your child’s pediatrician can help detect any refractive errors. 

Warning signs to keep an eye on include:

  • Wandering or crossed eyes.
  • A family history of childhood vision problems.
  • Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects.
  • Squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching TV. 

If you notice any of the above habits, you can ask your child’s pediatrician for a referral to a local pediatric ophthalmologist for further testing. 

“Keeping your children’s eyes safe is another important part of maintaining healthy vision,” Yu says, noting that eye injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children. 

According to reports, there are nearly 42,000 sports-related eye injuries in the United States each year, with children making up a majority of these injuries. 

“Make sure your child wears protective eyewear when playing sports or participating in recreational activities, and avoid purchasing toys with sharp or protruding parts,” Yu recommends. “Since many keiki in Hawaii are involved in outdoor activities all year-round, they should also wear sunglasses that offer full protection from UV-A and UV-B radiation. Limiting or giving breaks from screen time can also avoid problems such as eye fatigue, blurry vision and dry eyes. 

“Vision problems can greatly impact a child’s learning, but problems that are caught early can often have more successful treatment,” Yu says. “With their parents’ help, keiki can start having healthy habits while they’re young and have healthy vision for life!”