September is Children’s Eye Injury Month. Children are more likely to hurt or damage their eyes and most of these injuries are preventable. Proper safety or sports eyewear and safe practices around the house could make the difference. Read on for tips to prevent eye injuries!
This month marks the beginning of a new season. The academic year begins, sports seasons spring into action, and the warm days of summer are behind us as we prepare for another winter.
Children’s Eye Injuries
Most eye injuries are avoidable. The alarming statistics from the Canadian National Institute for Blindness speak for themselves:
- 35% of all eye injuries happen to children
- Almost half of eye injuries happen at home
- 44% of injuries happened while children were at play
- 14% occurred during sports
- Boys make up 73% of all injuries
- 60% of these eye injuries required follow-up visits
- 7% required surgery
For a child to lose their sight is devastating. Knowing that it can be prevented is haunting. This month, use your voice to help prevent child eye injuries. Educate parents about proper eye safety and supervision to reduce the number of avoidable injuries in your community.
Common Eye Injuries in Children
Cuts and scratches are the most common eye injuries in kids. These can occur in a variety of situations. Most common eye injuries come from play, from inside the home, or from hazards. Some are very mild, such as a scratch or bruise on the eyelid (black eye), but can be as serious as a punctured eyeball. Even moderate eye cuts on the cornea or sclera can cause serious damage down the road. In all these cases, immediate care must be taken so that infection doesn’t occur. Kids will be kids. Branches become rapiers and mounds of snow become ski hills. Even inside the home, the dangers are there, if not evident. Cooking relies on a number of tools that could be dangerous if precautions are not taken. It is impossible to eliminate eye hazards, but you can teach your children to take care when using tools and to protect their eyes when playing, both inside and out.
Tips to Avoid Injury
Preventing injuries is imperative in protecting your child’s eyesight. When outside, make sure they have sunwear to protect their eyes from a photokeratitis (eye sunburn). These sunglasses may prevent foreign objects, chemicals, and harmful debris from entering their eyes. When playing sports, include protective eyewear as part of their gear.
Optometrists, communicate to your patients that you have emergency appointments open each day. Encourage them to call you first rather than sitting in an emergency waiting room for hours on end. Optometrists are typically more adept at handling eye injuries than a general doctor. At each appointment, on social media, or through signage in your clinic, remind parents about the importance of eye safety.
Healthy Habits for Life: Start in September
Taking the extra time to take care of yourself and your kids should be the highlight of September. This is the perfect time to make lifestyle changes that can be carried through the next 10 months.
Start focusing on health with these easy steps:
- Stand or sit up straight
- Ensure your ergonomics provide the best comfort
- Walk or bike when possible, or park far away and walk the last few blocks
- Choose the stairs over the escalator or elevator
- Eat smaller portions of home cooked meals
- Carry water with you so you remember to drink it
- Find a new activity or make time for one you already love
- Make time to connect with friends
- Get caught up on your appointments – doctor, dentist, and of course your optometrist!
These are positive lifestyle choices to add to your daily routines. Small repetitive actions become life-long habits.
How to Eat for Your Eyes
A healthy lifestyle can mean a lot of different things. Recommended eating patterns include: low carb, high protein, or calorie-wise diets. You should consider eating for your eyes, therefore include foods that have vitamin A, C, and E, plus essential minerals like zinc, lutein, and omega-3. All can reduce the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. You can choose fish, nuts, dairy, and brightly coloured vegetables for the minerals to boost your eye health. When in doubt, find a supplement made just for eyesight!
Using the new year as a launchpad for healthy habits give you the chance to carry those habits through to next summer. Healthy lifestyle choices should be about those little choices that make a big difference. Preventing eye injuries in children is about taking safety precautions whenever available. Helping your kids grow as healthy as possible includes their eyes!