Michael Cole, OD, Child and Family Eye Care Center

When children spend more time outdoors, it’s important to ensure they are getting proper UV protection, not just for their skin, but for their eyes, too. Children are even more vulnerable to UV-related harm than adults because the lenses in their eyes cannot filter out UV rays as easily. It is vital that children have proper sunglasses for all outdoor activities.

It’s also important for parents to understand that proper UV protection for your children’s eyes is actually year round. Be sure to look for UVA and UVB protection in your child’s sun wear. Swim goggles can provide UV protection and can be made in most prescriptions.

Protecting their eyes from the summer sun is only one step to protecting your children’s vision over the summer. Did you know some sports injuries can cause vision problems too?

If your child plays any contact sports, they are at risk for injuries that could impact vision. There is a lot of attention and concern about sports-related head injuries, and repeated mild head injuries. A recent article reported that concussions among kids have increased 71 percent since 2010.

Obviously, all sports can result in accidents that involve a blow to the head. Common ones are gymnastics, soccer, lacrosse, football and even dance. But any activity, even a fall, can incur a mild-to-severe head injury. So when a child takes a spill on a bicycle and hits his head on the pavement, a concussion can result the same as when a receiver on the football field is thrown onto his head by a tackle. Even when wearing a helmet, one can still receive an injury because of the impact.

Signs that could mean your child has a vision problem resulting from the concussion:

  • Blurred vision, especially when reading
  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Pain in or around the eyes
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loses place when reading

It should also be noted that sometimes symptoms of a concussion might not even appear for days, even weeks after the accident. Some symptoms may last only seconds, while others linger much longer, for months or even years. Additionally, some symptoms may disappear after time, such as eye pain or headaches, and yet other symptoms remain, i.e., blurred or doubled vision.

When someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms they could also have difficulty with reading and learning, as well as physical activities such as balance, motion sickness or sports performance. These problems can become lifelong if they are not addressed.

Sometimes special glasses can help. Other times optometric vision therapy is needed. Vision therapy is effective for eliminating blurry and/or double vision, focusing problems, and poor concentration, to name a few, when they are linked to a vision problem. For more information about caring for your children’s eyes, visit covd.org.