Good eye hygiene in children is one of the most important habits that a parent can develop, maintain and teach. Children’s eyes are critical to their ability to learn and interact with the world around them. Foreign objects, particles, or naturally occuring discharge can all cause issues, as can blocked tear ducts. If not taken care of, infection and vision loss can occur, which can delay learning. Luckily there are some easy tips and tricks that can be applied to keep children’s eyes safe and functional.
As our children grow from newborns to crawlers to walkers and beyond, it’s easy to take for granted the important role their eyes play in all they do. “Vision is fundamental for so many aspects of learning, from recognizing faces and shapes to reading, and from birth until 7 to 10 years old is a critical time for developing vision,” says Laura K. Green, M.D., a cornea specialist and comprehensive ophthalmologist at the Krieger Eye Institute and director of the ophthalmology residency program at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. “Just like children have to learn to pick up a spoon and get it to their mouth, through early childhood they are building connections between the eyes and the brain and the brain is learning how to see.” (Source).
Prevent Rubbing and Wash Hands
One of the biggest threats to children’s eye health is rubbing them with their hands and fingers. There are two lessons here. One is that parents should teach their children the importance of washing their hands frequently. Because children are so tactile they have a tendency to touch more than adults do. (Source). This is a completely natural part of being a child and helps them to learn. This also means that they are continually interacting with dirt, bacteria and viruses. If children do not wash their hands frequently then they are carrying all of this around with them, just waiting to be deposited on whatever they touch next.
Children also have a tendency to rub their eyes when they are sleepy or feel irritated. That is also a completely natural reflex, but it is possible to teach them to avoid rubbing their eyes to keep germs and infections at bay. (Source). The combination of hand washing and not rubbing eyes will help enormously. Daily cleansing of the eye using Cliradex, a natural and soothing eyelid cleanser, with adult supervision can help to keep the risk of infection lower.
Wear Goggles in Water
Another tip is teaching children to keep their eyes free of chlorine and other chemicals, and infections, from pools. There are several components of this. The first is to make sure that your child wears goggles that fit and are air tight whenever they are in the water. Children are naturally curious and will want to open their eyes and see what it is like underwater. Pool water can irritate the eyes due to the chlorine or other chemicals. Chlorine washes away the protective basal tear film from the eyes, making them more susceptible to germs. Also, chlorine might not completely eliminate all of the bacteria that is in the water. (Source).
When swimming in lakes children may encounter harmful bacteria or pollutants that can irritate or harm their eyes. Ocean water, which is salty, can have an even more dramatic impact, causing serious damage. Particles can get stuck in the eyes creating issues that might require medical intervention.
If a child does get an irritation from the water, flush the eye with cool, clean water, and try to determine if there is a foreign object lodged in the eye. Keep them from rubbing their eyes, as this may do more damage, and seek medical attention if necessary. Cliradex can be used with adult supervision to clean children’s eyelids.
Taking Care of Blocked Tear Ducts
Infants and children can face the issue of having a blocked tear duct. Tear ducts are actually small tubes that have an opening in the corner of the eyes and stretch into the nose. When the duct is blocked it prevents tears from draining. It can cause the duct to fill with fluids, to become swollen, inflamed, and even infected.
Tear ducts becoming blocked is most common in infants, affecting almost 10% of them but can occur into adulthood as well. When the tear duct is blocked the first thing that a doctor will tell you to do is to use a warm compress and massage the area to attempt to release the blockage. If it is infected the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Cliradex contains natural ingredients, is preservative-free, 100% vegan and gluten-free making it a safe and soothing eye cleanser that can help to keep eyelids clean and free of irritants that can aggravate blocked tear ducts.
Pink Eye and Eye Hygiene in Children
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is another very common childhood eye issue. Pink eye in its viral and bacterial forms is highly contagious and able to spread rapidly from child to child. This is another instance where good hygiene can help. Hand washing, avoiding rubbing of the eyes and washing the eyes with a gentle and natural eye cleanser can all reduce the likelihood of your child getting pink eye, or spreading it.
Even when you take all proper precautions to make sure that a child’s eyes stay clean and healthy, there are situations in which they might become irritated.
In these situations, it’s helpful to visit an ophthalmologist. Children, however, can be very uneasy about visiting a physician, and especially having their eyes examined. It is a wise idea for parents to reassure children about what the trip will involve. Some ways to prepare a child include reassuring them that there will be no needles, describing what will likely happen at the eye doctor’s office, and reading stories about visits to the eye doctor.
Under a parent’s supervision, children may also benefit from the use of natural products to treat eye irritation. Bio-Tissue offers several Cliradex products that can prove to be very beneficial and can be safely administered to children.