Are you worried about proper eye care for kids?
Is it normal if my baby looks cross eyed occasionally?
Can I use normal water to clean my little munchkin’s eyes?
Will kajal harm baby’s eyes?
As a mom, there is nothing more exciting than your little one smiling at you when he/ she sees your face. The way your little one’s face lights up when he /she sees a favourite toy or anything that catches his/her fancy- it’s priceless.
Your baby’s eyes are important for him/ her as your baby needs it to learn and observe the surroundings and expand his knowledge.
Polluted environment, long screen times, chemically treated water and foods, accidents, genetics all can lead to problems in eyes. Some kids have vision problem right from the birth itself and some develop eyesight issues gradually as they grow.
As parents we should be aware of what is normal and what is not when it comes to eyes and how to take care of these problems.
Eye care for kids – things to be noted:
Knowing that eyesight is one of the important senses a human being posses, it is important to know how to take care of it. Here are a few things that you should take care to ensure that your kid’s eyesight is protected.
#1. Avoid exposure to harsh light
Babies have delicate eyes, so they can’t take harsh light. You have to make sure the lights in his room are not so bright.
When you are outdoors, make sure to shield his eyes from the sunlight, by using a hat. We need to do this as prolonged exposure can cause problems.
This point is sure to be met with some raised eyebrows. No kajal?? How will my child have dark and beautiful eyes?Just leave that part to the genes.
Avoid using any kind of products on the eye. My mom was shouted at by my brother’s pediatrician, who was mortified to see the kajal on his eyes. A thorough lecture from him and mom decided to stay off. (How I wish, she met this doctor earlier! We could have done away with so many embarrassing childhood pictures, where we looked more like the extras from a movie on demons)
- Also read: Why I hate kajal in child’s eyes
#3. Do not use medicine without consulting your doctor
Consider this scenario- you child has an eye infection and the doctor gave you the medicines. The child got cured, but after a while the infection returned.
Now that you know which medicine to use and the correct amount required, you can use it right?
Even if you are a 100% sure that it is the same infection, rather than reach out for the bottle of leftover medicine, you should consult the doctor. For, only a pediatrician would actually know what the issue is.
#4. Make sure your child’s toys don’t have sharp edges or parts
Your child’s toys should pass all the safety standards, including yours, to make sure that there are no sharp edges that the baby can poke himself with.
If your baby has some toys, but aren’t suitable for his/age, then it is recommended that you wait for your child to be older so that they can play with it safely.
#5. Baby proof your home
If you haven’t gotten around to doing it, do it now. Your baby might be small and wouldn’t even have started crawling yet. But before you know it, your baby will start gaining access to all the nooks and crannies. So keep all the sharp objects, chemicals etc. out of reach.
#6. Limit screen time
Nowadays kids as young as 6 months enjoy screen time and sometimes we parents also use their favorite cartoon program as a baby sitter.
Watching of TV or iPad for a long time without break can definitely put strain on those little eyes. It can lead to eye discomforts, digital eye strain and dry eyes.
While allowing your kid to watch TV, apply the 20-20-20 rule. Encourage your kid to take a 20 second break after every 20 minute of screen time.
During the 20 second break, let him look to any object 20 feet away. This will reduce the strain on the eyes.
#7. Clean your baby’s/kid’s eyes gently
You are gentle when it comes to your baby, step up that a degree more when it comes to cleaning your little one’s eyes. Cleaning it daily, will keep them healthy and free from infections.
For older kid, encourage them to wash their eyes daily and also discourage frequent eye rubbing.
Cleaning your baby’s eye’s daily – how to?
Your baby’s eyes are precious and yet so gentle. So it is important that you care for it well. Your baby’s eyes can be cleaned very easily. All it requires is some caution and love.
You can do this while you are giving a bath to your child.
- Start with clean hands
- Take two cotton balls
- Soak one in water, squeeze of the excess water
- Wipe gently from the inside to the outside corner
- Repeat for the other eye
- Do not clean inside the eye.
- Do not use soap to clean your munchkin’s eyes.
- Do not use hot water to clean his/ her eyes. Warm water is fine.
- In case of eye infection do not use the same water and container to clean both eyes, to avoid the risk of contamination.
- During eye infection, there might be some discharge, this needs to be cleaned frequently, but make sure you do not clean inside the eyes.
Eat right for sparkly bright peepers:
Eating right can help solve a lot of problems and keep you healthy from head to toe. Your little’s eyes will benefit from a healthy diet.
Let us see a list of food items that you can start after your child starts having semi-solid/solid food items.
Carrots, papaya, tomatoes, strawberries, pumpkin, corn –they all have one thing in common. They are colorful! They also have another thing in common. The fact that they contain vitamins A and C and are excellent for the eyes.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, avocados and peas contain zeaxanthin and lutein. These anti-oxidants help to curb the occurrence of macular degeneration and cataract.
Eggs are good for your eyes too. The fact that it contains Vitamin A and lutein is what makes it a great idea to add to your child’s diet.
Nuts- You have got to be nuts, if you say no to nuts! They contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, both of which are good for the eyes.
Fish – Look out for fishes that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- How to make carrot- rava porridge for 6 months+ baby
- How to make spinach soup/ puree for 6 months+ baby?
- Introduce fish to baby- why, when and how
- 8 egg recipes for your baby & FAQs
When to go to doctor?
At times your little one’s eyes may need a check-up by a doctor. Here are some of the symptoms that warrant a visit to the doctor.
#1. Red, watery eyes
This could be the sign of a bacterial or viral infection. It can happen with or without pus. The baby can find it difficult to open his/ her eyes after waking up as they might be stuck together.
#2. Constant watery eye
- Problem with tear duct
Does your child have a constant stream of tears even when he/she isn’t crying? Believe it or not, it could be a sign of a blocked tear duct! Though it is not a cause for concern, it may lead to other infections. So it warrants a trip to the doctor.
Do not take it lightly, though, it could also be a sign of abnormally small tear ducts, which is a congenital problem.
- Ingrown eyelash
An ingrown eye lash can also irritate the eye, this is pretty rare too.
#3. Foreign object in eye
Usually, if you see anything stuck in your kid’s eye, our first though would be to remove it as soon as possible, by ourselves. Right? But however tempted you may feel, do not try to remove the object yourself. It may look easy, but you may end up worsening the matter.
At times the object may be stuck under the upper eyelid.
At times, a foreign object stuck in the eye can cause injury to the eye, to avoid this, you can put a drop or two of breast milk in your little one’s eyes till you reach the doctor.
Breast milk is a one stop solution to many problems!
Also ensure that your little one doesn’t scratch his/her eyes.
#4. Swollen, red eyes
At times a bacterial conjunctivitis can lead to a much more serious infection called Eyelid Cellulitis. Mostly it happens in one eye. It happens when the tissues seen around the eye get infected.
Apart from conjunctivitis, any trauma to the tissues around the eye, can also lead to this. If it is not treated on time, it can complicate matters. This is because it leads to orbital cellulitis which affects the socket of the eye. This can hamper the child’s eye sight or even lead to complete blindness.
#5. Crying without tears
You may shrug this of as a case of crocodile tears, but there could be an issue. It could be a sign of a clogged tear duct.
In some cases, it presents itself as a yellow discharge. Lack of tears could also be a sign of severe dehydration. In either case, you will require a pediatrician to ascertain the cause and prescribe medication.
If you see any of these symptoms, do take your baby to a doctor.
#6. Lazy eye
Some kids may not focus equally well with both eyes. In such cases, the weaker eye may end up losing the ability to see. This is also something that can be reversed, if caught on time.
Symptoms include squinting, tilting the head while seeing or closing one eye, poor depth/ distance perception.
- Also Read: Squint in babies – 7 Things you need to know
#7. Excessive blinking or rubbing eyes
While it is natural to blink and rub eyes, excessive blinking and rubbing may signal some irritation/infection in your kids eyes. If you feel it is not normal for your baby to blink his eyes too often, mention this to your pediatrician.
Excessive blinking can be due to nearsightedness, dry eyes, strained eyes, allergies or infection from dandruff or bacteria.
#8. Difficulty in reading and/or writing or identifying things
If your toddler/preschooler is finding it difficult to identify things at a distance or if your school going kid is not good at reading or writing, before labeling it as a learning difficulty please do consult with a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Your child may be having issues with proper eyesight and this can be a reason for poor academics.
#9. Frequent headaches in older kids
If your older kid is complaining frequent headaches, do test his eyes for any issues. Many vision problems have headache as a common symptom.
Eye exam in the first year of your child:
Your little one can’t see much when they are born. Then along the way, their eye sight develops.
But how do you know if their eye sight is developing the way it is supposed to?
While there are milestone charts available that will tell you about this. A doctor will be able to check and let you know if there is anything amiss.
So even if you do not see any alarming / abnormal signals, there is no harm in taking your little one for an eye check-up.
Do you have to go to an specialist/ pediatric eye doctor for the check-up? Actually that is not required, as the basic eye check-up can be done by your child’s pediatrician.
This is where the routine wellness check-ups are important. This will help your doctor determine if your baby is fine. Usually the doctor uses a small torch to check the baby’s eyes.
He checks the eyelids to see if there is any drooping or cuts/ scratches that could lead to an infection. The eye lashes are also checked.
He then moves on to check the pupils to see if they are of the same size. The doctor will see how reactive they are to light.
Depending upon the age of the child he will see if the pupils move in a synchronized manner. The doctor will also check if your child is able to follow objects. The doctor may close one eye of your baby first and check and repeat the process by covering the other eye.
The object will be moved around to see if the child fixes their gaze on the said object. Then the doctor will do the same thing by not covering the eye.
This way, they can make out how well each eye responds. Kids who are around 2-3 months should be able to follow objects.
When you go for your routine check-ups ensure that you discuss any family history of eye-disorders.
How often should my child get an eye check up done?
We often go for routine health check ups at the pediatricians or for dental checkups at the dentists. But never do we take our kids for an eye checkup unless there is a serious problem. This should change.
Routine eye exams are important part of vision care for children. For good eye health it is recommended that all kids get a regular eye check up every two years.
Child eye exams will ensure that the eyes have not developed any new vision problems. Timely identification of vision problems can help in early correction of eyesight.
What to do if there is any anomaly in the eye check-up?
If the basic eye exam showed any signs of abnormality in your child’s eyes or his/her vision, then you need to look at the next step.
Your doctor may refer you to an eye specialist for kids and you will have to take your child for further tests.
Now there are instances where your child’s pediatrician may suggest a visit to an ophthalmologist even if there is no abnormality. This is so that the eye specialist can take a better look and give you tips on how to do eye care for kids.
As I said before, your baby’s eyes need to be treated gently and with a lot of care. They may not be able to tell you if something is wrong, so you have to ensure that you keep checking their eyes to see if all is well.
Fortunately, eye care for children is not a complicated process. A bit of care and common sense will go a long way in keep those peepers healthy.
Simple things like, taking your child to the doctor, if you see anything amiss; not using any eye drops without your doctor asking you to do so etc can go a long way. That and a healthy diet is also required!
How do you do eye care for kids? Have you taken your child for a routine eye checkup?
Do share with me in comments.