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 Caring for Your Eyes

Preteens - Ages 7 to 12

Children should have a complete eye examination every two years throughout their school years. The eye doctor will check the health of their eyes and will be on the alert for any underlying health problems, such as diabetes, that may become apparent in the eyes. The doctor will also test for any changes in eyesight that may call for corrective lenses.

Youngsters with vision problems that make it difficult for them to see the blackboard or up close (reading and writing) will have trouble with their studies. And children with a vision problem may not know they have one. They think everyone sees the way they do.

Make sunglasses a habit at an early age.

Young eyes let in more harmful ultraviolet light than older eyes, so children should get into the habit of wearing sunglasses when they're young. Ultraviolet light can cause vision-destroying cataracts and macular degeneration, so youngsters need to protect their eyes from an early age. Whenever they are outdoors, kids should wear sunglasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Look for sunglasses that indicate this high percentage of blockage against both types of the sun's rays. A Seal of Acceptance by the American Optometric Association on the label means that the sunglasses meet high vision-protective standards.

Use protective eyewear for sports.

This is the beginning of a long relationship with sports and recreation, so why not make early habits good ones in this arena, too? Children who become accustomed to wearing protective eyewear will find it easier to continue using it as they get older. Polycarbonate goggles should be worn when playing racquetball, basketball, tennis, and soccer. A helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire guard is best for playing hockey, lacrosse, and baseball. Kids should always wear UV-protective goggles or glasses when skiing.

Watch out for eyes around the house.

Do not permit your children to play with projectile toys such as darts and bows and arrows. And air-powered rifles, pellet guns, and BB guns - once sold in toy departments - are now considered firearms because they are so dangerous. Don't allow small children to play with them. They are not toys.

Never allow children to set off fireworks or be around others who do. Although fascinating to youngsters, fireworks are incredibly dangerous.

Instruct children about the dangers of misused scissors, sharp pencils, and household knives. Make sure children know never to run while holding a sharp object.

Establish good computer habits.

This is a time when many children begin spending time on the computer at school and at home. Make sure their computer set-up is optimal to avoid unnecessary eyestrain and fatigue:

  • Have the computer screen positioned so that it is a few inches below eye level.
  • Remind children to relax their eyes by taking a 10-minute break for every hour or so of computer use. Changing focus and looking at objects in the distance will give the eyes a needed rest.
  • Keep glare to a minimum to reduce eye fatigue. Purchase a glare-reduction screen, and adjust the monitor's contrast wheel to make letters and characters on the screen easier to distinguish.
  • Install window shades or blinds in the room that houses the computer. Simply closing them part way on a sunny day will allow the eyes to relax and reduce squinting and eye strain.
  • Limit computer use to a reasonable amount of time.

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