OUR vision is a valuable sense that many take for granted, but if you have ever been hit in the eye by ball out on the playground or gotten sand in your eye during a day at the beach, you know there is no joy in having limited vision.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month. A time when we “look” at helping our children maintain their vision.

According to Prevent Blindness America, parents should be aware of signs that may indicate their child has vision problems, including:

• Wandering or crossed eyes

• A family history of childhood vision problems

• Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects

• Squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner while watching television

It is suggested that parents bring their child into an eye doctor if they notice these as signs, as some common eye problems may include:

• Amblyopia (lazy eye)

• Strabismus (crossed eyes)

• Ptosis (drooping of the eyelid)

• Color deficiency (color blindness)

• Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism)

The National Eye Institute provides these ten Healthy Vision Tips to care for your and your child’s eyes:

1. Eat right to protect your eyes. Keep your eyes healthy by eating a well-balanced diet.

2. Get moving. Being overweight or obese can put you at a higher risk of diabetes and other conditions that can lead to vision problems.

3. Speak up if your vision changes. Tell a parent or teacher if your eyes are bothering you or you notice changes in your vision.

4. Wear your glasses. Your glasses help you see better, especially when they’re clean and free of smudges.

5. Keep the germs away. Always wash your hands before putting them close to your eyes, especially if you’re putting in or taking out contact lenses.

6. Gear up. Many eye injuries can be prevented with better safety habits, such as using protective eyewear.

7. Wear your shades. The sun’s rays can hurt your eyes. Choose sunglasses that block 99 or 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. And remember, you should never look directly at the sun.

8. Give your eyes a break. Staring at any one thing for too long can tire your eyes. Give your eyes a rest with the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

9. Say no to smoking. Smoking can put you at risk for some pretty serious eye issues, which can lead to blindness.

10. Talk about it. Does anyone in your family have issues with their eyes? Not sure? Ask! Talking about eye health with your family can help all of you stay healthy.

For additional information on eye problems, please visit www.preventblindness.org and/or nei.nih.gov. For more information on other vision impairments, please contact NMPASI at   235-7273/4 or visit us online at www.nmpasi.org.

GREG BORJA
Projects Specialist
NMPASI