A banana with googly eyes sits on a table surrounded by crayons and children’s art

August Is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

I know that the majority of us who are battling macular degeneration are not children. However, the eye health of the kiddos in our lives is extremely important for many reasons. Our children and grandchildren can learn a lot from us!

How to observe Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Macular degeneration is often hereditary, so, unfortunately, the children in our families may be headed down the same road we’re on someday. This means that it’s imperative for them to form eye-healthy habits now. Here are some of the ways we can help teach the kids in our lives how to take care of their eyes for a lifetime.

See an optometrist

Taking our kids to an optometrist annually is a great way to help them form this habit as adults. It’s common for children to see an optometrist each year if they need corrective lenses. But, even children who don’t need glasses or contacts should visit the eye doctor for yearly checkups.

Not only do optometrists inspect our children’s eyes to check their vision, but they also check their eye health. This includes taking pictures of the insides of their eyes to compare over the years in order to notice changes that may occur.

Teach eye-healthy habits

Doing small things like wearing sunglasses and hats when in the sun can make a big difference. And, we don’t want to just harp and nag about wearing them. Be sure to explain why it’s important; we wear sunglasses and hats to protect the retinas in our eyes from harmful sunlight.

It’s also good for kiddos to take vitamins daily in order to maintain overall body health.

Encourage mental health

Something that we may overlook as adults is the importance of kids seeing good examples of what positive mental health looks like. My family has been through a lot of trauma in the past few years with my ex-husband’s alcoholism and his tragic death. I model for my children that going to therapy and seeking help for our really difficult feelings is not only okay, but it’s also a healthy thing to do.

You may be wondering what therapy and mental health have to do with our eyes. Try to remember how difficult it was, mentally, to receive a diagnosis of macular degeneration. As well as the extreme life changes that this type of diagnosis can bring with it and the worrisome feelings about the future.

Educate children on how to eat for the health of their eyes

I don’t know about you, but I was never really taught ‘how’ to eat until I became an adult, was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease and was forced to figure it out. Because of this, I think we must teach our children how to eat for the health of their bodies (and eyes).

Again, try to explain the ‘why’ behind what we eat. Instead of saying eat your fruits and veggies, it’s okay to go into details about the specific nutrients. My boys are 10 and 13 and know what lutein and zeaxanthin are, as well as what types of foods to eat in order to give these nutrients to our bodies.

Start now

If you ask me, there’s nothing more important than to teach the children in our lives how to properly care for the health of their eyes. That way, if they someday do get handed a devastating diagnosis of macular degeneration, they will be better prepared. Also, who knows… Maybe we can help them take care of their eyes in such a way that it slows or prevents the onset of the disease or its progression.

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