How to Be Proactive about Children’s Eye Health and Safety

Published 08/17/2023
by Heritage Vision Plans

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. Here’s what adults should know.

Many eye conditions are related to aging. Because of this, it can be tempting for adults to overlook eye care for children—especially if a child isn’t complaining about their eyesight, or if signs of vision challenges are not apparent. However, while vision difficulties are less common among children, if left untreated, they can have longer repercussions.

For instance, a child who struggles to see objects up close can have a harder time learning the alphabet or reading. A child who has difficulty with far away objects may not be able to read a class board, or may have a harder time playing sports. In either case, these barriers can cause a child to become withdrawn, stifling their participation in school, and causing them to become embarrassed.

Because children may not know that their problems are due to poor vision, they may blame themselves and come to believe that their difficulties are a personal failing, resulting in a further loss of confidence. However, early detection can help children receive treatment faster, lessening the long-term effects of vision conditions for children on both an emotional and educational level.

If you are a parent or an adult who works regularly with children, the following article can help you learn more about common eye conditions that are a concern for children, as well as preventative measures and treatments.


Also called “wandering eye,” amblyopia happens when the brain and the eye aren’t perfectly communicating with each other. In this case, the weaker eye becomes misaligned, and the brain compensates by working extra hard with the good eye. As time goes on, more strain is placed on the good eye while the amblyopic eye grows weaker. Treatments include special glasses or contacts, eye patches, eye drops, or surgery.


Also known as crossed eyes, strabismus is a misalignment that causes one eye to shift out of focus in relation to the other eye. While common among newborns, young babies usually grow out of it by three months of age. Typical treatments include eye muscle exercises to help realign the eyes, glasses or an eye patch to try to strengthen the less dominant eye, and surgery.

Signs of eye problems in children.

Children often do not recognize when their eyesight is causing them problems. After all, to them, their vision is just what’s normal. It is therefore usually up to adults to notice when a child is struggling with eyesight. For children who are not yet fully verbal, or for children who are old enough to be embarrassed by eye difficulties, noticing these signs can help to detect a vision challenge at a crucial stage.

  • Tilting of the head or squinting when focusing on a class board or when watching television.
  • Frequent eye rubbing when watching television or trying to concentrate.
  • Light sensitivity, including squinting or tearing up in sunlight, or light-induced headaches or nausea.
  • Holding a book too close to the face or sitting too close to the television.
  • Closing one eye when trying to focus on an object.
  • Eye discomfort when focused for too long on a screen.
  • Wandering eyes.
  • Behavioral issues in school, such as slipping grades, irritability with teachers, or difficulty forming friendships.

How to teach children to protect their eyes.

Healthy eye habits begin with adults. As a parent, caregiver, educator, or other responsible adult, you can help children protect their vision by teaching them the importance of:

  • A healthy diet. If you are in charge of a child’s diet, offering meals rich in fruits, vegetables, and fatty acids can help. You can also simplify a diet by teaching children the importance of certain eye-healthy foods such as carrots, which are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, and salmon, which is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Protective eyewear. “Stop that, you’ll put your eye out” is a common cry of parents everywhere, but it is also true. Many eye injuries can be prevented with safety goggles or other protective gear.
  • Sunglasses. They don’t just look cool—they can also save your sight! UV rays from sunlight can damage eyes, especially in situations where there is strong glare, such as at the beach or outside in the snow.
  • Sleep. As much as children fight bedtime, they also need rest to protect their eyesight.
  • Screen time. Teach kids the 20-20-20 rule: Every twenty minutes, look at an object at least twenty feet away for twenty seconds. This gives your eyes time to relax from close objects emitting blue light.
  • Spend time outside. Not only is this a natural way to practice the 20-20-20 rule, but it also helps children be more physically active.
  • Proper eye care. If your child already wears glasses or contacts, teaching them how to care for them can affect their long-term eye health.

Schedule a vision screening or full eye exam for your child today.

A vision screening determines whether a child needs additional eye care, whereas an eye exam will help to diagnose potential vision problems. Vision screenings can be conducted by a family doctor or school nurse, whereas comprehensive eye exams require a specialized vision doctor.

If you believe your child may be struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. At Heritage, we pride ourselves in both the professionalism and the proximity of our providers. Use our provider search portal to find a doctor near you.