BATON ROUGE – As children head back to school, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisianais sharing with parents tips on how to best protect their children’s vision—at home, on the playground and in the classroom.
August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month—a great time for parents to brush up on the steps they can take against eye issues their children might face. These steps can include regular vision screening, wearing protective eyewear, encouraging healthy screen usage and being alert to the signs of eye problems.
Get regular vision screenings. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that, because kids are still growing, it’s important to keep close tabs on their eyesight. School-age kids should get regular childhood vision screenings from a pediatrician, family doctor, nurse or trained technician during their annual checkups. If the screening detects a problem, the child may need to see an ophthalmologist or other eye care professional.
Wear protective gear. Eye injuries while playing sports can cause serious damage, whether by getting smacked with an elbow during basketball or hit with a hockey stick. Eye injuries caused by sports can have lifelong effects, yet 9 in 10 serious sports-related eye injuries can be prevented by using protective eyewear. If your child plays racket sports, hockey, field hockey, baseball or basketball, consider having them wear goggles or other protective gear.
Monitor their screen time. A particular concern for parents is the effects of screen time on their children’s vision. The number of people developing nearsightedness in the United States has nearly doubled since 1971, with the condition increasing worldwide. A 2019 study published in the AAO journal Ophthalmology shows at least part of the increase in nearsightedness has to do with “near work” activities, such as reading books and interacting with digital screens. While screen usage may not cause nearsightedness directly, it cancause digital eyestrain, causing children to experience dry eye, eye strain, headaches and blurry vision.
According to the study, spending too much time indoors, especially in early childhood, also contributes to nearsightedness. Taking frequent breaks from screen time and spending more time outdoors can help prevent eye strain and slow the progression of nearsightedness.
A few more tips from the AAO to encourage healthy use of digital screens:
Watch for warning signs. Parents should also be aware of the signs of eye problems in their children. Symptoms such as eye pain, changes in vision, crossed eyes, headaches and squinting while reading may all be signs that it is time to see an eye doctor. The attached tip sheet gives more signs parents can watch for.
“Children’s eye health is so important,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Emily Vincent. “Be sure to check with your child’s doctor about the appropriate timing of having their vision formally screened. Many problems that develop with a child’s vision and eye health can be treated and some even completely corrected when caught early.”
Parents who have concerns about their kids’ eyesight should see their child’s doctor or an ophthalmologist. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana offers vision coverage plans for employer groups with two or more employees, and dependent children’s annual vision screenings are covered. Employers can contact their producers or visit employers.bcbsla.com/vision to learn more about these comprehensive plans, which include coverage for both annual eye exams and corrective materials.
And, through Blue365—Blue Cross’ health and wellness discounts site—all members can save on glasses and other vision products and services. Blue Cross members can sign up for Blue365 discounts at no extra charge at www.Blue365deals.com/BCBSLA.
In this video, Vincent shares tips for helping to keep children’s eyes healthy.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.