Within days (or weeks depending on where you live), the little tykes will be leaving the home, and heading back to school. Parents will gain back some small sliver of peace and quiet (only to lose evenings, helping with homework). With the return to school, it’s important to think about the vision needs of your kids in a new way. There are many aspects of a child’s visual needs which can become more prominent as the school year begins.
Keep in mind, if a child’s vision is not properly corrected it can cause developmental delays and adversely affect their grades and enjoyment of school. A child cannot tell you they don’t see well, if they don’t know how they should see in first place!
The Modern Classroom
Today’s children face very different visual demands than we did as children. First and foremost amongst those changes are the prevalence of digital devices. Virtually all children, from every socio-economic demographic, face a much higher demand on their eyes because of this increase in screen time. Even much school work is completed on tablets in the classroom and many lectures are in PowerPoint, not to mention the increasing reach of Google Classroom for their homework. All of these things dramatically impact the exposure to Harmful Blue Light for kids today. There have been numerous studies showing a correlation between exposure and the development of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) later in life. AMD is an eye condition which is irreversible. Once it begins, we can only slow it’s progress and the end result is blindness. The Macula is the central portion of the retina with the highest concentration of cones (color sensing photo-receptors).
Children today, will have a much higher lifetime exopsure to Harmful Blue Light because they are growing up with digital devices and LED light bulbs, which both put out a much higher concentration of the blue light we are concerned with.
Modern lens technologies have ways for us to filter the harmful aspects of blue light, while allowing the “good” blue light to get through.
Glare From Screens
In addition to the concerns of Harmful Blue Light exposures, all of those digital devices create a lot of eye strain from the glare reflecting off the screens as well. Having a good Anti-Reflective (AR) coating can help to reduce the strain caused by reflections off of devices, as well as the reflections within the lens. In addition, there are some AR coatings which can filter even more of the Harmful Blue Light (such as Crizal Prevencia from Essilor).
Kids Play Outdoors Too
If your child plays outside, and needs a distance correction, you probably should consider Transitions lenses as well. These lenses adapt to light (or UV) exposure to make a lens comfortable in most lighting conditions. They also come in three colors, so they can be cosmetically appealing to your child, as well as provide the right kind of contrast for their favorite outdoor activities. There are other brands of photochromic lens technologies available, so make sure you are choosing the right type for your child’s needs. Transitions has more than one version, to fit all the different lifestyle needs. For example, there are versions that respond to any visible light, or those that respond only to UV exposure. This is one category where personal preference becomes the most important decision making factor, in my opinion.
Don’t Forget Sports
The beginning of the school year also often means the beginning of team sports season as well. From basketball, football, hockey, and volleyball, having a good pair of protective sports eyewear is critical. There are many manufacturers of sports glasses. I don’t really want to endorse any specific brand (though I do have the greatest experience working with Liberty Eyewear). The most important things to be looking for when choosing a sports pair of glasses are:
- Safety Thickness (Z95.1)
- There is silicon or rubber padding around the bridge and eye socket