Have your family practice these three tips for all-around better eye health.
1. Start eye exams early. A child's first eye exam should be at 6 months of age, and he or she should see the eye doctor again between age 3 and 5. Yearly eye exams are needed thereafter (unless more frequent visits are specifically indicated).
2. Look for signs of hidden vision problems. Do not expect children to come to you and tell you what their visual symptoms are. Children only have one set of eyes, and have never seen differently. Even children walking around seeing double or who cannot clearly see the words in their books rarely complain.
Be on the alert for headaches, poor eye-hand coordination, a dislike of or problems reading, excessive rubbing of the eyes, sensory integration dysfunction, or difficulty focusing or paying attention or sitting still (especially during reading). Any of these could indicate vision problems, yet the visual system is usually overlooked by health professionals who are not eye doctors in determining the cause of these common symptoms.
Vision problems should be ruled out with a thorough eye exam with a pediatric eye doctor. Visit www.COVD.org to find a doctor near you and www.children-special-needs.org/parenting/preschool/pediatric_eye_exams.html to learn details of what a comprehensive, pediatric eye exam includes.
3. Encourage "visual hygiene." Make sure books and video games are never closer to the eyes than one's arm's length. The computer, as well, should not be too close; 18-22 inches is usually a comfortable distance, with the preferred distance within the range depending on the size of the particular computer screen and other variables.
Also take frequent breaks while reading, studying, playing video games, or while on the computer. Never spend more than 30 minutes at a time before taking a break. Ideally, one should take a one-minute break every 15 minutes. This break should be spent giving the eyes a good "stretch" by alternately looking at something about 20 feet away and then something nearby.
Behavioral developmental optometrists, eye doctor specialists, can also prescribe glasses specifically for computer use that can help lessen the symptoms of CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome).
Also see: School Eye Exams: What They Detect, What They Don't