When it comes to taking care of one’s health we often hear advice from doctors along the following line: ”It’s never too soo n to start.” This guideline applies just as much to one’s visual health. So much of what happens to our eyes later in life depends on how we take care of them over the course of a lifetime. Take, for example, the effect of sunlight on the eyes. It is estimated that 80% of one’s lifetime ultraviolet exposure from the sun occurs by age 18. This fact demonstrates the need to shield one’s skin and eyes from damaging sunlight as early in life as possible. People are now applying sunscreens to their very young children’s skin to make sure that they don’t develop skin cancer. We need to make sure that parents protect their babies’ eyes from harmful ultraviolet light just as early in life by having them wear UV absorbing sunglasses and wearing a broad brimmed hat whenever they are outdoors, summer and winter.
So what else can you do to optimize your children’s visual health? Many of the answers to this question are available in an excellent new book by Canadian Optometrists, Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier. I have previously blogged about their last book, called, “Eyefoods, a food plan for healthy eyes.”
Dr. Capogna and Dr. Pelletier’s new book is entitled: “Eyefoods for Kids. A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health.” This very useful book addresses a large number of things that parents can do together with their children that will improve their ocular health. As the title of the book implies, the book focuses on the impact that healthy eating can have on the eye, and how important for one’s visual health it is to start healthy eating habits early in childhood. The authors discuss the positive effect that vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids can have on the eye. This information is presented in an extremely clear manner that “even a child can understand.” What is more, they present some wonderful-sounding, kid-friendly recipes that parents and kids can make and enjoy together.
The book goes one step further in that it provides advice on other measures that parents can take to protect their children’s eyes early in childhood – the need for sunglasses, which I have already discussed above; the need for eye protection in sport, one of the major causes of eye injury; and the need for children to have regular complete eye examinations. I would have liked to see a section on how one can protect one’s eyes from injuries around the house, e.g. from injuries while in the garden or those associated with the use of tools such as hammers, but perhaps this could be added to a subsequent revision of this excellent book.
The book is most understandable and avoids medical jargon as much as possible in describing how the eye works; some of the major eye diseases that can lead to vision loss; and how one can correct some visual errors with eye glasses or contact lenses. I thought that another nice aspect of the book was the description of what a child might expect when undergoing a complete eye examination.
I highly recommend that both parents and children read, and, more importantly, follow the simple advice in this book. Your “eyes are for life”, and it’s never too soon to begin taking care of them.
Eyefoods for kids can be purchased on-line through the CNIB webstore here.