As you probably already know, lifestyle habits can have a huge impact on health. The earlier they are taught to your children, the easier it will be for them to adopt them. Several habits can help them maintain good vision and reduce the risk of eye problems. Here are five good habits to teach your kids in order to keep their eyes healthy throughout their lives.

1. Yearly Eye Exams
Annual eye exams help ensure that their vision is good and that their eye health is on point. As children grow, their vision can change quickly, it even sometimes takes less than a year to see major changes! Poor vision can cause headaches and discomfort, but most of all it can affect learning in school. By making sure they are able to wear glasses with their most recent prescription, your children will be able to see the class blackboard properly.

A young child is sitting in front of a tonometer during an eye exam in a white room

2. Wash Your Hands Regularly
Handwashing helps keep viruses and bacteria such as colds and flu away, but also those responsible for eye infections. Children who rub their eyes after playing in the dirt could easily cause an infection. Encourage your children to wash their hands regularly, especially when they play outside, and make sure to teach them to avoid rubbing their eyes. These two actions will help reduce the risk of infecting their eyes.

3. Eating Well
It's no longer a secret: food has a direct impact on general health, but also on overall eye health. Try to choose mainly fresh and unprocessed foods: healthy foods contain vitamins that are beneficial for eye health. For example, foods rich in vitamin C like strawberries or broccoli can help protect your eyes and those of your children by absorbing some of the harmful UV rays. Encourage your children to choose fruits or vegetables as a snack. Good eating habits like this will benefit them throughout their lives.

4. Wearing Sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses is the best way to protect your children's eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. As soon as they go outside, encourage them to wear them. If this is not possible, have them wear a cap or hat. Sunglasses are often forgotten during the winter, but they are still important since the sun is reflected on the snow and can easily dazzle. Also, teach your children to avoid looking directly at the sun, this will decrease the amount of UV rays reaching their eyes.

Two children are wearing sunglasses, one has an arm over her friend's shoulder and both are sitting on a patio or a dock.

5. Limit Screen Time
Digital screens are increasingly present in children's lives, whether at home or at school. Using computer screens, tablets, and smartphones exposes them to blue light, which can cause eyestrain, dry eyes, or disturb their sleep. Encourage them to keep electronic devices as far away from their eyes as possible. One arm distance is recommended for smartphones and tablets, and one arm distance for computer screens. Also, remember to limit the time that your children spend on a screen each day. According to the recommendations of the Quebec Association of Optometrists, children under the age of two, should never use a screen. A limit of one hour per day is recommended until the age of nine. Encourage your children to play outside rather than be entertained in front of a screen. Spending time outside is beneficial for their health, but also their vision. Optometrists also recommend avoiding screens at least an hour before going to sleep. Instead, favour calm activities such as reading.

A teenager is watching something on her tablet in bed next to her father, she's wearing white headphones and a grey top

By forming good eye health habits early in life, your children are most likely to keep them for life. Encourage them to follow these tips, but also consider setting an example by taking good habits for your eyes too! Would you like to learn more habits to help your family maintain good eye health? Talk to your IRIS Optometrist.

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