August is dedicated to preventing eye injuries and vision loss and saving children’s eyesight. One of 20 children ages 3 to 5 has a vision problem that could result in permanent vision if left untreated. Having a month dedicated to know about your child’s eye health and safety can make a big difference to your child’s health and life.
According to India TV - only 46% of Indian kids get regular eye tests: Survey
"Air pollution can cause excessive rubbing of eyes resulting in weak vision. Hereditary is also a root cause for kids suffering from myopia which can affect their performance and development in the long run.
On average, 23-30 percent of kids in India are affected with Myopia, especially kids residing in urban areas as they are seen spending less time outside under sunlight.”
Dr.Smruthi Kumar has completed over 5 years of medical practice at Manav Charitable Hospital, Bangalore, and has successfully performed cataract surgeries around 4000 SICS & 600 phacoemulsification, pterygium surgeries, OCT, OCR & minor lid surgeries.
Dr.Smruthi Kumar specializes in ocular refraction, clinical evaluation, diagnosis, and using various instruments and interpretations for treating the various ocular conditions.
Eye problems in children
Dr. Smruthi Kumar says, “We see more commonly poor vision in children, and the most common causes of impaired vision are-
School Myopia Poor vision due to refractive error Cataract Congenital disease Glaucoma The dropping of the eyelids called Ptosis Preterm delivery - Retinopathy Partial closure of lids Conjunctivitis or pink eye Allergic conditions of eye to dust, pollen Squint - Misalignment of the eye where the visual axis is not correct Vitamin a deficiency like night blindness Cortical impairment of brain Nystagmus
Using glasses at the right time and treating the problem at the right age is very important for every child.”
Eye symptoms that should not be ignored
Dr.Smruthi informs, “Some of the eye symptoms in children are-
Unable to see the blackboard Having headache is most common Poor vision in school children Feeling tired after school Feeling sleepy after school Unable to cope up with coping notes Squeezing the eye as it gives clarity of vision Rubbing the eyes because of tiredness Itchy eyes Unnoticed symptoms in one eye Eye squinting due to refractive error Redness of eyes Watering of eyes Sticking of eyelids in the morning Allergic conditions like itching of the eye The constant rubbing can damage the cornea Cloudy cornea Tumour Rolling of eyes in nystagmus Xerophthalmia- decreased vision at night
These are the few signs we pick up as a teacher or parent. Get your child’s eye checked and clear the doubt about his vision. Squint and refractive error when left untreated leads to amblyopia or lazy eye. There are no visn stimuli in the eye and the eye turns lazy. This is an irreversible condition. Once you have reached the stage of amblyopia, get your vision checked with an ophthalmologist. This required early intervention and the child may lose the eye weight if left untreated.“
All you need to know about normal eyesight
Dr. Smruthi informs, ”The WHO standard says that the normal eyesight is 6/6 or 20/20. Anything lesser than this is impaired vision. You can give full corrections with glasses.”
Diet for healthy eyes in children
Dr. Smruthi states, “One of the main causes for poor vision is vitamin A deficiency which causes night blindness. Other vitamins which are important are as follows-
Vitamin A Vitamin E Zinc Antioxidants Omega 3 fatty acids for a healthy retina helps in preventing age-related disorders Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin Vitamin C
These are important nutrients that must be given right from childhood in form of -
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach Citrus fruits Peanut butter Red meat and oysters Fish tuna, salmon, cod liver oils Nuts
From childhood, till we become old, we should consume a healthy and nutrient rich diet. There is also a myth that if you have a healthy diet, you will not have any problems. Wearing glasses is important if you have impaired vision. Wearing glasses and eating the right food is important.”
Visit your doctor for an eye check-up for the child
Dr. Smruthi says, “ Getting your vision tested once a year and regularly is important. The symptoms might go unnoticed and this may affect the eye in the long run.”
Tip from an expert for healthy eyes in children
Dr. Smruthi informs, “ Nowadays everyone is working from home and studying online in a pandemic era which we cannot avoid. Avoid screen exposure for children below 6 months of age which is on the high rise in this pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives guidelines for screen time for children.
The amount of screen time for children up to 24 months of age is limited to video calling to family members for 15 mins.
Beyond that up to 5 years of age- 20 mins of screen time are sufficient
Beyond 5+ years of age - the only a couple of hours
Also, it is important to guide the media. Too much screen time can cause -
Lack of attention Affecting performance Sleeping time
Follow few tips
Blink eyes every 20 mins Take regular breaks Looking at an object for 15 secs to 20 secs Eye exercises Zero power glasses which is anti-glare glasses Try to limit the screen time
(Edited by Dr.Rati Parwani)