Vision is a very important sense which enables individuals to become aware of their surroundings. Sometimes, certain genetic problems as well as exposure to technologies like televisions, computers and mobile phones can affect the vision in children. Some of the most common eye problems seen in children include –
- Strabismus (turned eyes/crossed eyes/squint) – in this condition, both the eyes point in different directions
- Chalazion – swelling of the eyelid
- Amblyopia (lazy eye) – occurs when one eye doesn’t get a clear picture like the other eye
- Refractive error – the requirement of strong glasses at an early age
- Epiphora – blocked tear ducts
Some common symptoms observed in children having eye problems are –
- Persistent watering or discharge from the eye
- Either one or both pupils have an unusual white appearance which is usually visible in photographs
- One eyeball moves well while the other remains stagnant
- The eyes become extremely sensitive to light or glare
- The child sits very close to the screen while watching television and holds their books closer to the eyes
- Each eye of the child can look different from the other.
Consumption of healthy foods which are particularly rich in vitamins A, C & E, lutein & zeaxanthin, antioxidants, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids help in maintaining good eye health in individuals. Sometimes these foods along with appropriate eye exercises are known to restore the quality of vision.
- Green leafy vegetables – these have anti oxidative properties which keep free radicals away from the eyes. The pigments found in these vegetables (called carotenoids) are rich in vitamin A. These veggies also contain other vitamins & minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B12 and calcium. Examples; spinach, broccoli, kale, and collard greens.
- Colorful vegetables – These can prevent macular degeneration (which causes loss of vision), contain beta carotenes which keep the retina healthy and are rich in antioxidants which protects the eye. Examples; tomatoes, radish, carrots, sweet potatoes, capsicum, and zucchini.
- Nuts and seeds – nuts & seeds are naturally rich in vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids which reduce chances of nearsightedness (myopia) in children as well as prevent dry eyes. Examples; almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
- Fish oil – It contains the omega-3 fatty acid DHA which prevents dryness in the eyes. Examples of fish from which fish oil is extracted; salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
- Legumes – these are rich in zinc and bioflavonoids which prevent the retina from damaging. Examples; lentils (dals), kidney beans, and black-eyed peas.
- Whole grains – these are packed with nutrients like zinc, niacin and vitamin E which are essential for the eye. Examples; whole wheat and brown rice.
- Eggs – They are a rich source of vitamin A, proteins and antioxidants like lutein which prevent blindness and macular degeneration. Consumption of eggs also help in maintaining the integrity of the ocular structure as well as the proper functioning of the eye.
- Fruits – fruits of different varieties are packed with various essential nutrients which help maintain healthy eyes, prevent eye infections and night blindness. Example; citrus fruits (vitamin C), yellow fruits (vitamin A), apricots (carotenoids & anti-oxidants), and blueberries (anthocyanins and flavonoids)
- Beef – It is a rich source of zinc which helps in the delivery of vitamin A from the liver to the retina thereby helping in uninterrupted melanin production in the eyes.
- Avocados – They are rich in the carotenoid lutein which help in the prevention of eye diseases like cataracts and improve vision in children.
- Vitamin supplements – these are used when a child is a fussy eater and does not get proper nutrition through food.