Originally Published in the Cape May County Herald, July 29, 2017

With the school year right around the corner, parents are scrambling to get new school supplies and clothes. As they complete their long list of school to-dos, it is crucial to remember one of their children’s most important learning tools: their eyes. August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month and a great time to remember that good vision and overall eye health are vital to learning. 

To keep your child from squinting and struggling through the school year, here are a few easy-to-follow eye care tips:

Get your child an eye exam before starting school 

optometrist shining light into and examining a young girl's eyes

While most schools offer eye screenings throughout the year, they are not the most reliable way to track a child’s eye health. To ensure children start the school year with the proper eyewear, parents should schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

Encourage your children to wash their hands regularly 

hands under running water

When kids come into contact with germs they can be infected simply by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Kids tend to rub their eyes quite a bit, so clean hands will cut down on eye infections.

Limit exposure to electronics 

two young boys sitting and looking at their cellphones

Nearsightedness among children 12 years old and older has increased from 25 to 42 percent due to the use of electronic devices. Protect your child from these damaging effects by encouraging them to enjoy outdoor activities after school.

Ensure a healthy and balanced diet

photo of fruits and vegetables

Nutrition is one the most important factors for healthy vision in children. Teaching children to value and enjoy healthy meals can lower their risk for sight-stealing disorders later in life. A diet rich in carotene can reduce age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Carotene is an antecedent to Vitamin A and is found in leafy greens, corn, egg yolks and some grains.

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