How to take care of your child’s eyes and vision?

It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid screens in our daily lives. Smartphones, tablets or computer screens emit HEV radiation that is harmful to the eye and can adversely affect our vision – contributing to degenerative changes in the retina. Children who grow up in a digital world are particularly vulnerable to this type of exposure.

HEV (High Energy Visible Light) radiation, also known as ‘blue light’, is a type of radiation that, yes, is emitted by the sun, but also by electronic devices. Although not as harmful as UV radiation, long-term exposure to blue light can lead to eye fatigue, sleep problems, oxidative stress and even the aforementioned retinal damage.

In the age of digitalisation and the inherent presence of technology in our lives, it is hard to imagine eliminating it altogether. After all, its benefits cannot be ignored – long-distance communication, access to unlimited information, the possibility to work and study remotely – all this has been made possible by technology.

However, we must always remember the other side of the coin. The impact of technology, specifically the constant exposure to light emitted by screens, on our eyesight is undeniable. We pay particular attention to this in the context of the youngest, who are entering a world where technology is ubiquitous.

So why is it so important to introduce healthy habits related to the use of technology? How can we minimise the potential negative effects while enjoying its many benefits? Here are some proven ways:

1. Ensure healthy lighting in your child’s room.

A child’s room is an imaginative place and at the same time a space for learning, sleeping and playing – all in one room. It is a unique place with many functions and challenges. And the right lighting plays a key role in this process.

In any room, especially a child’s room, the lighting should be well thought out because of the various activities that take place there. Soft, warm light is ideal for relaxation and cosy sleep, creating a friendly and warm environment. When studying or reading, on the other hand, you need a stronger, white light, so-called cool white light, which does not tire the eyes and promotes concentration.

It will therefore be necessary to use several different light sources, which the child can adapt to his or her individual needs.

-> Desk lamp: In a child’s room, it should be equipped with a bulb that emits a bright, white cool light. This will ensure adequate lighting for the work and study area, which is essential for effective performance and concentration.

-> Ceiling lamp: It is recommended that the ceiling light in the child’s room is neutral or warm in colour to maintain balance in the toddler’s sleep cycle.

-> Bedside lamp: This is an integral part of any child’s room. Its soft, gentle light helps your child to calm down before bedtime. It can also be used as a light for reading bedtime stories in the evening.

Very often we have savings in mind, where, during rampant inflation, they are crucial. We realise that price is an important factor when shopping, but it is worth realising that when it comes to lighting, the cheapest option is not always the best.

By choosing the cheapest light sources, we often expose our children’s eyes to potential hazards. Such lighting can emit irregular, flickering light, which is not only tiring to the eyes, but can also contribute to the development of visual impairment. What’s more, it can cause unpleasant sensations, worsen moods and even be the cause of dangerous situations.

In addition, low quality often goes hand in hand with a short lifespan, which means that we will have to replace light sources more often, which may prove less economical in the long run.

The cheapest lighting can also emit too intense white light, which is harmful to young, sensitive eyes. Proper and certified lighting that is photobiologically tested is key to our children’s eye health.

An interesting option for the children’s room are lamps that allow you to adjust the colour and intensity of the light. You can check out our entire range of desk lamps here.

Adjustable settings are made via a standard switch that is already installed in the lamp itself, without the need to purchase an additional power supply or dimmer.

2. Encourage your child to be active outdoors.

There is no doubt that outdoor movement is beneficial to the overall health of our children, but it also has a direct impact on their eyesight. Natural daylight is extremely important for the proper development of the eye, and not getting enough can contribute to the development of myopia. In addition, outdoors, the eyes have the opportunity to work in a mode that is natural to them, which is not as intense as when we are in enclosed spaces because objects are at a greater distance from the eyes. Whatever the season, we should encourage our children to spend more time outdoors, especially during the winter season when the days are shorter – the sun appears in the sky less often and our eyes are more exposed to the scarcity of natural light. Therefore, it is worth taking every opportunity to go outside whenever weather conditions allow. Even a short walk or a game outdoors can have many benefits for eye health. Investing in physical activity is also important as up to 90% of this activity is controlled by the eye.

Encouraging children to be active outdoors is not only an investment in their health, but also a great opportunity to spend time together. Rather than letting the winter gloom discourage us from going outside, use it as an opportunity for fun and learning.

 

3. Limit the time your child spends in front of TV screens, smartphones or tablets.

Today’s world is dominated by technology. TV screens, smartphones, tablets and computers are present almost everywhere and have become an integral part of our daily lives. Many parents wonder what impact this is having on their children’s health and especially on their eyesight.

Although electronic device manufacturers are making efforts to reduce the amount of blue light emitted, overexposure to such devices can still have a detrimental effect on vision. Blue light, also known as HEV radiation, can lead to eye fatigue, dryness and even accelerate retinal ageing.

Therefore, as parents, we should aim to minimise the time our children spend in front of screens. Many experts recommend different limits of time in front of a screen depending on the age of the child.

-> For children under 2 years old: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screens, except for video communication such as Skype or Facetime calls.

-> Children aged 2 to 5: They should spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen, and the content they watch should be educational and of high quality.

-> School-aged children: It is recommended to limit the time in front of the screen to two hours a day.

*It is worth controlling our children’s use of electronic devices especially when they are outdoors, as this can otherwise have many negative effects, for example, it can lead to irritation of the eye, which, when communing with a smartphone or tablet screen, performs only 8 blinks, which is almost half of the blinks performed by the eye under normal conditions (i.e. 15).

Understanding that screen use should be moderated is only one part of the equation. The other part is introducing alternatives to screen activities, such as reading, drawing, outdoor play and other forms of creative and physical development.

Limiting time in front of a screen is an investment in our children’s health. Although it requires patience and consistency, the eye health benefits are well worth it.

4. Protect your child’s eyesight from UV radiation, not just outdoors.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is something we often associate with sunbathing on the beach during the hot summer. But the truth is that UV radiation is present all year round, regardless of the time of day or weather. It has the ability to penetrate clouds, and its reflection off surfaces such as water, sand or snow can increase UV exposure.

Although our skin is at risk of sunburn and skin cancer from UV radiation, our eyes are equally susceptible to damage. Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to a range of health problems such as cataracts, retinal damage, skin lesions around the eyes and even some forms of eye cancer.

Children are particularly at risk of UV damage. Their eyes transmit more UV radiation to the retina than adult eyes, and they tend to spend more time outdoors, increasing their exposure to UV radiation.

Therefore, protecting our children’s eyes from UV radiation is absolutely crucial. How can we do this? Here are some simple steps we can take:

-> Sun protection: When we are outside, we should encourage our children to wear wide-brimmed hats or baseball caps to help provide some protection for their eyes.

-> Sunglasses: Sunglasses are essential when we are outside. It is worth mentioning that you should choose glasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. During infancy, i.e. until the age of one, up to 90% of UVA radiation and almost 50% of UVB radiation enters the child’s eye – that is why it is so important to invest in the right sunglasses. Sunglasses without a UV filter actually do more harm than good, as they contribute to dilating the pupils of the eye, with the result that even more harmful UV rays enter the eye. This filter should also be put on children’s corrective glasses.

-> Limiting sun exposure: If possible, children should not be in direct sunlight during the hours when the sun is strongest, i.e. between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – try to choose shaded areas.

-> Choosing the right lighting: For indoor lighting, avoid fluorescent or incandescent bulbs that may emit small amounts of UV radiation and instead choose our tried and tested LED lighting that does not emit UV radiation.

 

5. Have regular eye examinations of your child

Sight is one of the most important senses for our children’s development and learning. Therefore, regular eye examinations from an early age are essential to ensure that our children have the best opportunities for healthy development.

Regular eye examinations for children help in the early detection and treatment of potential problems such as strabismus, nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Check-ups are important especially in the context of young children, who are often not even aware that something is wrong with their eyesight and the image of the world they see. Increasingly, ophthalmologists are of the opinion that a child’s first eye examination should be carried out as early as the age of 2.5-3 years, i.e. at the time when the child starts to speak, and thus to interact with the world and communicate his or her needs. The second eye examination should be carried out at pre-school age, i.e. at 5-6 years, and the second every three years on average.

*The following should be an alarming sign to parents that their child may have problems with his or her eyesight: coming too close to the television, getting headaches, reluctance and/or inaccuracy in drawing or colouring; also at school age: sloppy writing or the child becoming tired in reading and/or writing.

Importantly, in Poland, the eye examination of children is compulsory and is carried out in schools by paediatricians and school nurses. However, these examinations are often limited to basic tests such as reading letters from a Snellen chart. While these tests are intended to help identify children who have vision problems, they are not a substitute for a full eye examination by a specialist who has full access to sophisticated equipment and is able to carry out a more thorough examination.

School-age children’s eyesight should not only be examined at the beginning of their learning adventure, but also, and more importantly, at later stages of their learning adventure – follow-up examinations with a specialist are recommended at the ages of 10, 13, 16 and 18, among others.

Specialists often use devices such as a retinoscope to examine the eye to check that the lens of the eye focuses light correctly. Other tools, such as an ophthalmoscope, can be used to examine the retina and optic nerve disc. Therefore, although eye examinations at school are compulsory, it is definitely worth supplementing them with regular visits to a specialist.

Our children’s eye health is a priority, but it is equally important to ensure that they have access to the right accessories to help them with this task. That’s why we’ve put together a list of recommended products to not only ensure eye comfort and safety, but also to support the healthy development of our little ones’ eyes.

Which desk lamps to choose

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