The back to school season is a new and unfamiliar one for everyone this year. Don’t forget eye exams to support your child’s learning.
Hallowe’en is fast approaching and it’s a good time to remember some key eye safety points.
Cosmetic Contact Lenses – Be Safe, Not Sorry!
Cosmetic contact lenses are particularly popular at Halloween. Like contact lenses for visual correction, cosmetic contact lenses are classified as medical devices and can pose a risk of harm due to improper fit, use, or care. Complications can be serious, including vision loss.
If you can’t resist the allure of colourful contact lenses, be sure to purchase them from a licensed eye care professional. A prescription and proper instructions will help to minimize the risks associated with these medical devices. A licensed eye care professional can also ensure that the lenses are obtained from a licensed manufacturer.
If blurred vision, redness, discomfort, swelling or discharge occurs, stop using the lenses immediately and see your doctor of optometry. (You can contact our Almonte clinic or our Gloucester clinic if you are in the Ottawa area.)
Ensure Make-up Is Safe
Use products that are hypo-allergenic and make sure that any additives to the face paint are approved (check the recalls list at Health Canada if you are unsure).
When applying make-up near or around the eye, stay away from the lid, or lash line—the area where you would normally apply eye liner. If you are applying make-up very close to the eye, use only products approved for use in that area such as an eye-liner or eye shadow.
Don’t use blush or lip-liner to create a “red” effect, as some ingredients may not be approved for use in the eye and bacteria from the mouth can be transmitted to the eye.
Keep Costumes Safe
Avoid sharp or pointy objects such as swords in costumes. If your child must carry a sword, makes sure it is secured to the outfit. If your child does get poked in the eye, thoroughly inspect it for any signs of redness, decreased vision or pain.
Eye injuries may be more serious than they appear. If your child reports pain or blurred vision in the eye or if the eye is discoloured or bloodshot, you should take your child to see a doctor of optometry as soon as possible. Ensure masks don’t obstruct vision.
Be Seen After Dark
Use reflective tape and stickers on costumes and treat bags to increase visibility. Take a flashlight or wearable LED light so you can see and been seen.
Many vision problems can be treated if caught early, but not all parents realize that regular exams at an early age are important. This October, remember that undiagnosed vision problems can impact a child’s learning and development.
Last month we underscored how vital vision is in the process of learning at school: 80% of classroom learning is visual. Vision problems can affect babies and children of all ages, making early and regular eye exams by a qualified optometrist essential.
In the youngest children, eye rubbing can be a sign of a vision problem. If we see a young child rubbing their eyes we might assume an irritant is present, as with allergies, but it may be their vision is bothering them.
Common problems that can occur, sometimes together, include:
- strabismus (misaligned eyes)
- myopia (nearsightedness)
- hyperopia (farsightedness)
- astigmatism (causing distorted / blurred vision)
Glasses may be prescribed to treat these types of conditions successfully.
In addition, it’s possible that an eye disorder or disease may be present that needs to be addressed differently. One such example is Keratoconus, a progressive condition which causes thinning of the cornea at the front of the eye.
And not just any eye test will help to identify these conditions. Without the expertise of an optometrist and a comprehensive eye exam, your child’s vision problem could go undetected.
Regular Eye Exams
Children should have their first routine eye examination between two and three years of age. However, if there are concerns such as a misaligned eye, frequent rubbing and blinking, infections, or failure to meet developmental milestones, infants as young as 6 months of age can be examined by our eye doctors.
Your child does not need to be able to read or to identify letters to have an eye examination.
The good news is that OHIP covers an annual comprehensive eye exam up to and including the age of 19.
Start a great yearly tradition with a visit to have your child’s eyes checked.
As our kids head back to school after the March Break and the winter starts to give way to spring, it’s a really good time to remember why kids should wear sunglasses too.
We often forget that children’s eyes are actually more sensitive than our adults eyes to UV rays. The sun’s rays inflict damage on the outer layers of the eyes in the very same way that its rays can harm our skin. Damage to eyes incurred in childhood won’t show up for many years, but this is when the most damage can be done. Down the road, issues like macular degeneration can be accelerated because of this early, unchecked exposure.
We usually remember hats for our children, whether for warmth in winter or sun protection in summer, but appropriate eye protection should include sunglasses.
The most important considerations in choosing sunglasses for any age include 100% UV protection and larger lenses. The more lens coverage the better. Polarized lenses are not essential, but really help to reduce the harsh glare from reflective surfaces (think water, sparkling snow, cars, rooftops, etc.).
Of course, kids are often clumsier with accessories and sunglasses can become casualties. You don’t need to pay a fortune for adequate protection; many sunglasses options come at affordable prices. Just look for the 100% UV protection guarantee.
Also remember that teens with contacts or glasses who are driving will need sunglass protection.
Being seen and being safe are important, particularly on Halloween. If you have Halloween costumes planned and/or children going door to door, take a moment to read our Halloween eye safety tips from last year.