Good eyesight can affect how we learn, and interact with the world and others. This sense can be an important variable in our short and long-term quality of life. Children rely on their parents to take care of their eye health and to set them up for success in life.
Yet, despite the importance of good vision and eye health, it is not always clear what you can do to protect your child’s eyes and prevent future issues. A new report highlights what parents can do to protect their children’s vision and eye health.
What the research shows
To investigate ways to promote practices for good eyesight and health, researchers surveyed over 2,000 parents to find out their perceptions regarding eyesight and what they are currently doing.1
The population selection was done using the Ipsos Knowledge Panel database. This database represents the demographic makeup of the country’s population.1,2 To participate in the study, parents needed at least one child living in their household between 3 and 18 years of age.
Parents reported a few common thoughts about eye health and vision:
- 49% of parents suggested screen time
- 45% suggested how close children sit to screens
- 37% suggested blue light from screens
- 0% suggested diet as a significant factor
- 30% reported sunglasses and UV protection
What parents are currently doing
Parents reported being proactive by addressing certain concerns based on parental assumptions regarding good eyesight and eye health.
Monitoring of their child(ren’s) intake of vitamin A was reported by 66% of parents.1 This is a good habit as vitamin A, which can be found in red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables can help protect the eye and its related functions.3,4
A majority of parents in the study reported the enforcement of their children wearing eye protection when playing shooting games.1 However, only 31% of parents reported their children wearing protective eyewear during contact sports.
Sports-related eye injuries could result in vision loss and other complications. Nearly 25% of the researched pediatric eye injuries treated in emergency departments were related to contact sports, including basketball, baseball, and football.1,5,6
However, research suggests that 90% of these injuries can be prevented by using appropriate eye protection.7 It is recommended to wear protective eyewear while playing sports with a risk of eye injury.8 These findings emphasize the risks for eye health associated with these sports, and the importance of wearing eye protection. 8
Precautionary measures to protect their child’s eyesight from excessive light were a theme in the research. The majority of parents had their children sit farther away from screens, and would set limits on screen time.1
Ensuring their children have adequate ambient light when reading was reported by 85% of parents.1 While reading in the dark is not associated with long-term negative effects on eye health, it is not a safe habit for your child(ren) to develop as it can cause eye strain.1,9
Only 41% of the surveyed parents recognized the risk of sun ultraviolet (UV) radiation to their child’s good eyesight.1 UV radiation exposure has been linked to a variety of eye diseases as well as damage to the cornea, retina, and eyelid skin.10 Wearing proper eye protection like sunglasses with 100% protection from all UV light can reduce exposure and risks.11
Most parents in the study reported their children had at least one vision test during their annual doctor visit, but only 54% of participants reported that their children had visited an eye care specialist within the past two years.1 Routine check-ups with a specialized eye care professional like an optometrist, are essential in preventing disease and protecting good eyesight.
Prevention and protection
The findings of this study suggest that many parents are proactive in taking care of their children’s eye health. However, some eye protection strategies should be addressed. Prevention through regular check-ups with a specialist, providing a nutrient-rich diet and enforcing the wearing of protective eye gear when appropriate are all ways parents can protect their child’s eyes and sight.
- C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital: University of Michigan Health. Keeping an eye on children’s vision. Mott Poll Report. 2022, July 18. 41(3).
- KnowledgePanel ® Overview (2018). Be Sure with KnowledgePanel ®. Ipsos. Accessed 2022, July 20, from https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/18-11-53_Overview_v3.pdf
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A and Carotenoids. National Institutes of Health. Published 2022, June 15. Accessed 2022, July 20, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
- Johra, F.T., Bepari, A.K., Bristy, A.T., et al (2020). A mechanistic review of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin in eye health and disease. Antioxidants (Basel) 26(9): 1046. Doi: 10.3390/antiox9111046
- Miller, K.N., Collins, C.L., Chounthirath, T., et al. Pediatric sports- and recreation-related eye injuries treated in US emergency departments. Pediatrics. 2018, February 1. 141(2): e20173083. Doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-3083
- Pollard, K.A., Xiang, H., Smith, G.A. Pediatric eye injuries treated in US emergency departments. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2012. 51(4):374-381.
- Rodriguez, J.O., Lavina, A.M., Agarwal, A. Prevention and treatment of common eye injuries in sports. Am Fam Physician. 2003. 67(7): 1481-1488.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Protective eyewear for young athletes. Pediatrics. 2004, March. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.113.3.619
- Munsamy AJ, Chetty V, Ramlall S. Screen-based behaviour in children is more than meets the eye. S Afr Fam Pract (2004). 2022;64(1):e1-e4. Published 2022 Feb 10. doi:10.4102/safp.v64i1.5374
- Krutmann, J., Behar-Cohen, F., Baillet, G., et al (2013, November 8). Towards standardization of UV eye protection: What can be learned from photodermatology? Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine 30(2-3): 128-136. Doi: 10.1111/phpp.12089
- Boyd, K. (2021, June 10). Tips for choosing the best sunglasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology. Accessed 2022, July 23, from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/sunglasses-3