Eye Health Central

Protect your children's eyes

5 Practical things you can do to protect your children’s eye

We all want what's best for our children and can spend hours online researching the best diet, the best school, the latest clothes trends but how often do we research children,s eye health?

Here are few simple, practical steps we can take as parents to help protect our children's eyes.

1. Send them out to play
Playing or exercising outside on a regular basis is not only good for a child’s health but great for their eyesight too. Studies suggest that around 2 hours of outdoor time per day is ideal to help protect a child’s vision.
Studies have shown that fewer children wear glasses in countries where they spend a significant portion of their day outside.
Research has shown that glasses and contact lens wear increases in those countries where a greater part of a child’s day is spent indoors.
A huge 60% of 8-12 year olds in Singapore are shortsighted, compared to only 14% of Australian children of the same age range.

children playing outside to improve vision

2. Protect their eyes from the sun
Children should be reminded never to look straight at the sun.
Children should be encouraged to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses help to protect the eyes by blocking out harmful UV rays.
It is important for parents to look out for good quality glasses not just fashionable frames. Look for sunglasses that provide 100% UVA and UVB protection and carry the CE mark British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1 836.

young child in protective sunglasses with wide brimmed hat

3. Make sure they eat a healthy diet
As adults we’ve all heard of eating 5 a day, but did you know that eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help protect children’s vision as well as aiding overall good health.In particular Vitamins A and C found in green leafy vegetables and oily fish particularly help keep eyes healthy.

vegetables containing vitamin A and C protect childrens vision

4. Stop digital screen use at bedtimes
Using mobile phones or tablet devices can cause digital eye strain, but using them immediately before going to bed can also interfere with a child’s sleep pattern.
It is recommended that to have 1 hour free from screen time before bedtime. Night settings which reduce the amount of blue light given out by these devices in the evening may help children to get a good night’s sleep.

child tablet limit screen time
5. Book a sight test
All children under the age of 16 (up to and including 19 years of age if in full time education) are entitled to a free NHS sight test and financial help towards the cost of corrective vision glasses or contact lenses.
Children should have their first sight test around the age of three and then every two years unless the optometrist recommends differently.

child and family at opticians fitted with glasses

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 21 Nov 2018, Last modified: 4 Mar 2020