August is just around the corner and is also Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. It is an apt reminder to get your foster child’s eyes examined by your eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist) before returning to school. It is important to teach our children the importance of maintaining good eye health and safety of their eyes throughout the year. Here are some very important recommendations for back to school eye care:
Get Your Foster Child’s Eye Examined Before School Starts
American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive vision exam for kids beginning at age one, and again at age three. Their eyes should be examined every year after the age of five. This is very critical in identifying amblyopia or lazy eye which is a very common eye condition in young children. Vision screens are very important but often miss binocular vision problems and other hidden eye disorders.
Teach Children Proper Hand Washing
Children tend to rub their eyes with their hands often, which can become a primary mode of transfer of germs and viruses. Therefore, clean hands are very essential in preventing eye infections.
Limit Screen Time
Children have very busy school schedules, navigating their day between class periods and doing most of their work on the computer. In the United States, children ages 8 to 12 spend up to 4 to 6 hours watching or using screens and teenagers up to 9 hours. Children are regularly exposed to harmful and inaccurate information on the internet leading to unwanted consequences. Too much screen time can lead to:
- Sleep difficulties
- Weight gain due to limited physical activity
- Isolation and social adjustment problems
- Poor self-image
- Mood swings and behavioral outbursts
Have an open conversation with your foster child about these issues and engage them in making a screen time schedule and stick to it. These strategies will further assist you in developing safe screen time habits for your child:
- Explain the importance of parental controls and other internet safety measures
- Discuss the negative influence of advertisements
- Encourage your child to engage with technology responsibly, creatively and to foster communication
- Model by limiting your own screen time
- Plan fun family activities and encourage your child to get involved in sports and other enriching activities
You might have tried every strategy to limit your child’s screen time, but if you are feeling really concerned or overwhelmed, please consider seeing a mental health professional for their expert guidance. If you or anyone working with your foster child suspects that your child might be having vision difficulties, please make an appointment with a pediatric optometrist to get their eyes checked as soon as possible.
If you are a foster parent looking for recommendations for eye doctors in Kansas or considering becoming a foster parent, please contact us.