A Summer Break from Devices and Tips for Building Kids’ Eye Health

Promoting good eye health should start early in life as it's crucial for overall health and well-being. Not only are eyes essential for seeing, communicating, and navigating the world, but they can also tell us if the body is experiencing other health ailments as we age. Some of the first eye problems kids experience are squinting, rubbing, blinking, or red eye. Unfortunately, many don't know these things can be because of a more significant issue, and kids don't see the doctor early enough to address the root cause.

Therefore, instilling the simplest habits at a young age can help build and maintain eye health that will last a lifetime. On the heels of Healthy Vision Month and as summer begins, don’t forget the importance of eye health.

The below tips are to educate adults and kids alike on small yet impactful ways to help preserve our youth's eye health.

1. Schedule regular eye exams. The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first eye exam as newborns, followed by yearly exams during pediatric well visits. If the child fails a vision test at their annual, they will be referred to an eye doctor for a comprehensive exam.

2. Encourage outdoor play. Spending time outside is not only good for kids' overall health and well-being but also for their eyes. Exposure to natural light helps regulate the body's circadian rhythms, which can help prevent myopia (nearsightedness). Additionally, outdoor play can help reduce digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS).

3. Limit screen time. While screens are inevitable in modern life and for school, excessive screen time can harm kids' eyes. Too much screen time can cause eyestrain, headaches, dry eye syndrome, and CVS. Adults should limit children's screen time and encourage them to take frequent breaks to reduce the risk of eye problems. If schools require screens regularly, children should use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. This technique gives the eyes a break from the screen.

4. Consider blue light glasses. Believe it or not, the most significant source of blue light comes from the sun, so we are naturally exposed to it daily. It helps with circadian rhythm, which means it regulates the body's natural wake and sleep cycles. Nowadays, however, devices expose us to even more blue light. In fact, a recent US study found that 12- to 13-year-old children doubled their non-school-related screen time in May 2020(1). Unfortunately, too much blue light can lead to headaches and sleeplessness and disrupt sleep habits. Consider investing in blue light-blocking glasses to minimize the eyes' exposure to blue light.

5. Eat a healthy diet. Eating nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help with overall health and wellness. Additionally, research shows that specific nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are potent antioxidants called carotenoids, support eye health. These antioxidants are found in the retina and macula of the eye, which is why it's so important to consume these nutrients. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce and broccoli, peas, kiwi and pumpkin and have been shown to promote healthy vision.

6. Think about eye health supplements. Since many kids do not eat well-rounded diets or enjoy nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, supplements can be a convenient way to ensure they get the optimal nutrient intake they need to promote healthy vision. Look for supplements with Lutemax 2020 on the label. Visit our where to buy section, where we feature a few of our partner brands. Lutemax 2020 is a powerful, science-backed ingredient that contains lutein and zeaxanthin a similar ratio found naturally in the diet. These nutrients help to protect the eyes from harmful blue light and oxidative stress, which can contribute to age-related eye problems later in life.

By following the above tips, parents and caregivers can help kids understand the importance of building eye health and why it's essential to start early. So, as summer creeps into view, encourage more breaks from the screen, play outdoors more, eat the fresh foods nature provides, and take some time to focus on your family's eye health.