10 Simple Tips on Children’s Christmas Toys and Eye Safety

By: Samer Hamada

Christmas is nearly upon us and I expect many parents and families are looking at what toys to buy their children this year. Christmas should be a happy, fun time of year with children playing with their new toys, but thousands of children every year suffer from eye injuries caused by toys. These can range from minor accidents, which don’t require any attention from an eye doctor, to more serious accidents and even blindness. Some examples of eye injuries caused by toys are corneal abrasions, increased intraocular pressure and traumatic cataracts.

Here are 10 simple tips that can help you make the right toy choices for your children this Christmas.

1. Try to avoid toys that shoot objects such as arrow guns for children under 6 years old, even after this age they should always been supervised when playing with them. Children should be advised never to aim at someone’s face, even if the object they are shooting is soft such as foam.

2. A toy should be labelled with the age range it is suitable for, for example if there is a chance of choking, the toy should be labelled for children over 3 years old only. When making your Christmas shopping trips it is always best to follow the advice on the packaging of the toy but these are guidelines and children develop at different rates, so you should always go with what you think is best for your child.

3. Make sure toys will not shatter when played with or have small pieces that could break off easily. These small shards, which may be sharp, could be thrown up into a child’s eye if it breaks which can cause serious injuries.

4. Try to also avoid toys that have sharp edges or points, they could poke their eye or another child’s.

5. Christmas time is when families get together and there may be a large age range of children playing together, always try to separate children’s toys so younger children don’t play with toys that are meant for older children.

6. You may be thinking of buying an older child a chemistry set, always supply them with safety goggles to avoid any chemicals getting into the eyes which can cause nasty injuries, and always supervise them while they are using with it.

7. You should also give children protective eyewear if you buy them sporting equipment especially those that involve a ball.

8. If a toy becomes damaged (hopefully not too soon after Christmas) you should throw it away to avoid it becoming a danger to a child’s eyes. Mending a toy with glue might seem a good idea, especially if it is new, but the join where the glue is will not be as strong and could break off again easily.

9. Toys that have a long handle, such as a stick pony, should always have rounded ends. Again, you should always supervise children when playing with these type of toys as they can swing them around and hit someone’s eye.

10. Children get very excited on Christmas day and young children may find the wrapping paper and packaging more interesting that the toys themselves, but these can also be dangerous to young eyes.

These tips will hopefully avoid any eye injuries for your children this Christmas, but if your child does injure their eye and you have any concerns you should contact an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Children that spend too much time unsupervised on computers can cause vision problems. Just like adults, children that spend a lot of time in front of a computer, smartphone and even e-reader have a higher risks of developing computer vision syndrome.

Harmful blue light, also called high energy visible light, that is emitted from the above devices (or any digital device with a screen) can also cause problems. Children that are overexposed to blue light could lead to problems in the future with their eyes, such as an increased risk of macular degeneration in later life.

The sun releases a huge amount more high energy visible light than any digital screen, but additional blue light from digital screen devices or computers that children receive, combined with the hours they are on them for each day, and how close they may be held to the eyes, could cause possible damage to the eyes over time.

Opticians and eye doctors in London and around the world are worried about these possible damages overtime and some believe overuse of digital devices may put children at risk for gradually developing myopia (short-sightedness).

Below are some top tips for when your children use a computer or digital device to avoid computer vision syndrome:

- Make sure your child is not tilting their head backwards or forwards and the screen should be slightly below their eye line.

- Avoid them slumping or slouching over a key board.

- When on a computer their forearms should be flat on a desk or table with hands nearly level with the forearms but with wrists slightly bent. The elbows should be at least at a 90-degree angle.

- Feet should also be kept flat on the floor or footrest and shouldn’t be tucked under the body or chair.

- As with adults, children should take regular breaks away from any computer or digital device and be encouraged to stretch out to help muscles.

Ophthalmologists recommend regular eye examinations in children and also to monitor and set guidelines for children using digital devices and computers.

I hope you have a safe and happy Christmas!

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Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, the Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades' experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries. Please visit eyecliniclondon.com/ Please call 0800 197 8808 for friendly advice and information.

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