Think you have the correct facts on your child’s eye care? Just when is the right time to have their eyes checked? Does too much screen time damage their eyes? Do they need to wear sunglasses? There are many myths and much misinformation out there about children’s eye health. Don’t turn to Dr. Google for answers, ask your eye doctor instead. Here, Eye Care of Delaware and the American Academy of Ophthalmology debunk seven common myths about children’s eye health.
Children’s Eye Health Myths Debunked
1. Only young children get pink eye.
Yes, young children are known for getting pink eye due to close contact in day care centers. But teenagers, college students and even adults get pink eye too – especially those who don’t clean their contact lenses properly. The best way to keep pink eye from spreading is to practice good hygiene. Best practices include handwashing, avoiding touching your eyes, using clean towels (and other products) around your face.
2. Antibiotics are necessary to cure your child’s pink eye.
Actually, antibiotics are rarely necessary to treat pink eye. There are three types of pink eye: viral, bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis. Most cases of pink eye are caused by viral infections or allergies and do not respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial conjunctivitis, depending on the severity. Mild cases of bacterial conjunctivitis usually resolve on their own within 7 to 14 days without any treatment.
3. The sun is bad for your eyes.
While it’s true that long-term exposure to the sun without proper protection can increase the risk of some eye diseases, there are studies that suggest that sun exposure is necessary for normal visual development. Children who have less sun exposure seem to be at higher risk for developing myopia – nearsightedness. (It’s still important to make sure they’re protected with UV-blocking sunglasses and sunscreen.)
4. Blue light from device screens damages children’s vision.
Contrary to what you may be reading on the internet, blue light is not blinding you or your screen-obsessed children. While it’s true that nearsightedness is becoming more common, blue light is not the culprit. In fact, we’re exposed to much more blue light naturally from the sun than we are from our screens. The important thing to remember is to take frequent breaks and follow the 20/20/20 rule: Look at an object at least 20 feet away every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.
5. Vision loss only happens to adults.
When the eyes do not line up in the same direction when focusing on an object, it’s called strabismus. Strabismus (crossed eyes) is an eye condition that can cause vision loss in a child. When a child has amblyopia (lazy eye) their eyes may look normal, but if not treated this eye condition can steal sight. Amblyopia reduces the vision in one of the child’s eyes because the eye and brain are not working together properly.
6. All farsighted children need glasses.
Most children are farsighted in early life – it’s actually normal and doesn’t necessarily mean your child needs glasses. They can use their focusing muscles to provide clear vision for both distance and near vision. Children will need glasses if their farsightedness blurs their vision or leads to strabismus. They will also need glasses if they are significantly more farsighted in one eye compared with the other, a condition that puts them at risk for developing amblyopia.
7. There is no difference between a vision screening and a vision exam.
While it’s true that your child’s eyes should be checked regularly, for most children, a less invasive vision screening by a pediatrician, family doctor, or person trained in vision assessment of preschool children play an important role in detecting eye problems early. However, the American Optometric Association recommend a comprehensive eye exam by age 3 to 5 by an eye doctor. This comprehensive exam involves dilating the pupils, and would pick up any abnormalities that the screening may have missed.
“As the kids head back to school, show them that you’ve done your homework,” said Dianna Seldomridge, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Educate yourself so they will have the best chance to preserve their vision for a lifetime.”
Eye Care of Delaware Cares About Your Children’s Eye Health
By following the best practices for your children’s eye health, it’s less likely they will need services such as ours until they are much older. However, if macular degeneration, cataracts or eyelid surgery is necessary, you know who to call. You can request an appointment by calling (302) 454-8800 or contacting us online.