August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and there are now more ways than ever to keep children’s eyes healthy and protected.
Dr. Richard Marquardt, an ophthalmologist with Ohio Eye Associates, talked about some of the newer ways to protect children’s eyes while they do some of their most common activities: staring at screens and playing sports.
“The biggest thing right now is the blue lenses,” he said.
These lenses are not actually blue. They look like any other lenses, but they get their name from helping improve eye health by blocking harmful blue light from reaching people’s eyes.
The blue light emitted from screens like computers and cell phones, especially if these screens are frequently used, damage eye health over time. Blue lenses limit the amount of blue light your eyes take in from these screens by filtering it through the lenses.
Another new product Dr. Marquardt recommends, especially for children who wear glasses and play a sport like soccer or cross country, is Transitions contact lenses.
Like Transitions glasses, these contacts darken in the sun to reduce glare and brightness.
“These contacts are great for outdoor sports where glasses may be cumbersome, like football,” said Dr. Marquardt. “They block UV light from the sun, which is linked to cataracts in later life. They’re great for general eye health because they limit your eyes’ exposure to the sun.”
For Dr. Marquardt, limiting UV and blue light exposure on a day-to-day basis is more important than wearing eye protection during sports because these kinds of exposures harm eye health over time.
“Wearing eye protection during sports is a relatively common sense approach,” he said. “Children don’t need eye protection during every sport or activity. That is more needed in high contact sports. It’s all about relative risk.”
For sports like baseball or tennis, when children may need more eye protection, there are products available like Rec Specs, which are glasses with a band around the head and protective lenses designed for eye protection during sports.
Mansfield resident Lanisha Clapper is one parent who recommends Rec Specs. Her son Cayden has been wearing them for baseball, basketball and football since he was 7 years old.
“Cayden loves them,” she said. “He’s about to turn 15 now, but when he was younger, he wore them even when he wasn’t playing sports. He liked the look, and he didn’t have to worry about breaking them. I would tell any parent that has a kid that is rough on things or just physical to try them out.”
As for general children’s eye health, Dr. Marquardt stressed that all children need to have their eyes checked before starting kindergarten at the latest. If parents see signs before then, they should bring them in right away.
“We can check their vision even if they don’t respond to things like ‘is one or two better?’, so we can check infants’ vision,” the doctor explained. “It’s never too early to get their eyes checked, especially if parents see signs of them potentially having vision problems!”
These signs and red flags include squinting, tilting of the head, complaints of headaches if they’re older, or if one eye is turning.
With school starting up, parents are encouraged to schedule eye appointments for their children, especially if they have never had one. To schedule an appointment with Ohio Eye Associates, call (419) 756-8000 today.