August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month
08.15.2017 | By Jeannie Peng Mansyur
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As students return to school for the 2017-2018 year, the eye care technology program at San Jacinto College and the Eye Clinic of Texas in League City reminds parents of some simple, everyday tips to ensure the health and safety of their children’s vision as the month of August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month.
Debra Clarke, San Jacinto College eye care technology program director, and Mary Jane Caddell, administrator for the Eye Clinic of Texas, recently discussed issues that relate to children’s eye health and ways to avoid injuries associated with playing sports and popular toys on the market.
Main issues in children’s eye health today
Clarke: The leading causes of blindness for school-aged children are eye injuries, specifically sports-related injuries. We’re coming off the summer, and sometimes we get into sports and backyard sporting events and become relaxed to the dangers and injuries that can occur. We still need to have the kids protected. Ninety percent of sports-related injuries are avoidable with proper gear.
Clarke: Another issue related to eye health is lack of protection against UV sun exposure. Most parents, 74 percent, will apply sunscreen to their children’s skin but only 32 percent will apply sunshades to their children’s eyes. Get a good pair of glasses with UV block. They don’t have to be expensive and can be picked up for a few dollars at your local store.
With that said, new studies are showing that children who play outside at least 80 minutes a day are less likely to develop nearsightedness.
Eye health issues specific to age- babies, toddlers and teens
Clarke: All newborns should receive an ocular screening by their pediatricians. Premature babies should see an ophthalmologist. A second eye care screening should take place between the six month to one year age group. School-aged children should receive screenings.
Signs/symptoms parents/teachers should look for with a child’s vision
Caddell: Parents usually provide us with a history of their child squinting a lot and having trouble in the classroom. Other signs include loss of attention span, avoiding reading or other close activities and turning their heads back and forth.
Local organizations that assist with affordable eye health treatment include Kid’s Vision for Life-See to Succeed, Eye Care for Kids, and the University of Houston’s University Eye Institute.
Some top concerns when it comes to children’s eye safety
Clarke: A common concern is how to protect the eyes of children as they are exposed to so many elements on a daily basis that we don’t think about as concerns. For example, one of the hot items on the market today is the fidget spinner. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has this listed as a concern because children throw them in the air, and they fall on their eyes and cause blunt force trauma.
Some common toys that can cause eye injury to children
Caddell: Anything can cause injury to the eye if not used correctly. Even everyday household items like superglue can be dangerous. Some of the toys we notice that causes injury are the laser pointers that can damage the retina, toys that shoot any form of projectile, water balloon launchers, silly string and its chemicals, and toys that are pointed like wands and toy swords.
Parents can find additional information and tips to avoid children eye injuries by visiting websites of the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injury, Vision Council of America, and Prevent Blindness of America.
San Jacinto College offers the only ophthalmic technician training program in Texas accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Ophthalmic Medical Programs. The Eye Clinic of Texas in League City partners with the College to assist with student clinical rotations. For more information about the eye care technology program, visit sanjac.edu/career/eye-care-technology.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.