What you need to know about caring for your toddler's eyes

Understand how your child’s vision develops, what foods boost eye health and problem signs to look out for…

Your tot’s vision develops rapidly from age 1 to 2. At age 2, most kids can see at the 20/60 level. Their eyesight will continue to develop until it reaches 20/20, an adult’s visual acuity level, usually at between ages 7 and 9.

Visual acuity is often measured and determined by what an average person should be able to see when standing 6 metres away from an eye chart. If a child has 20/60 vision, it means that when he is standing 6 metres away from the chart, he sees what a normal adult can see at 18 metres away from the chart.

However, this does not necessarily mean that your child has a vision problem. It simply means that his eyes have not developed to the point where his vision is as good as a normal adult's.

If your family has a history of serious vision problems, your health care professional may refer you to an eye specialist for further testing.

When does my toddler need to have his eyes examined?

Your child's vision should be checked every time he goes for a routine checkup.

During these screenings, your doctor will evaluate their eye health, check for any evidence of eye disease, and make sure that both eyes work together. If these checks indicate that your toddler's vision is developing normally, he will not need more formal testing until he is aged 3 or 4.

If your family has a history of serious vision problems, your health care professional may refer you to an eye specialist for further testing.

What are warning signs that my child might have a vision problem?

Your child may have trouble with his eyes/vision and might require immediate medical assistance if he displays the following symptoms:

  • Redness, swelling, crusting, or discharge in his eyes or eyelids that lasts for more than 24 hours.
  • Excessive tearing.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Eyes that look crooked or crossed.
  • Eyes that don't move together.
  • Hold head in a tilted or other abnormal position.
  • Squints frequently.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Frequent eye-rubbing.
 

(Wyeth)Tots-What you need to know about caring for junior's eyes - 2.jpg

How would I know if my toddler has pink eye (conjunctivitis)?

If the white part of your child's eye and the inside of his lower lids are red, he likely has conjunctivitis, more commonly known as "pink eye" or sore eyes. Children suffering from pink eye also often tear a lot and have discharge from their eyes.

Although pink eye is usually caused by an infection, it may sometimes be due to irritation or an allergic reaction. In any case, your child should see a health care professional, who will prescribe medication to treat the condition.

Eye infections are contagious. You should take care to wash your hands after any contact with your child's eyes. To avoid spreading the infection, do also keep your child away from other children.

Scientists are learning that your toddler’s diet can help his vision develop. The fovea —the area of the retina that optimise image sharpness—does not mature until at least 4 years of age. Certain nutrients, including vitamin A, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), arachidonic Acid (AA) and lutein are important eye biofactors development of the eyes.

Does my toddler need to wear sunglasses?

It’s a good idea for toddlers to use sunglasses, since long-term exposure to the sun can increase the risk of cataracts — a condition that clouds the lens of the eye later in life.

The best sunglasses feature “UV-blocking lenses” and choose frames that are large enough to block out side light. If your child resists wearing sunglasses, use a wide-brimmed hat to help protect his eyes.

What should my toddler eat to boost the development of his vision?

Scientists are learning that your toddler’s diet can help his vision develop. The fovea —the area of the retina that optimise image sharpness—does not mature until at least 4 years of age. Certain nutrients, including vitamin A, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), arachidonic Acid (AA) and lutein are important eye biofactors development of the eyes.

However, your child's body cannot generate its own lutein; it must be obtained from the food that he eats. Most food consumed by young children today are poor sources of AA and DHA.

So, supplementing your child’s diet with a lutein-fortified growing-up milk such as S-26® GOLD Progress can help ensure that he receives lutein regularly, as well as other important biofactors needed to maximise optimum eye development and health.

Click here to find out more about S-26® GOLD Progress and request a sample.

Photos: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

You’d love these reads, too…

CONVERSATIONS WITH… An Optometrist

Is my child colour blind?

Best tips to wear glasses and contact lenses