Is it my imagination, or does the Christmas shopping season seem to start earlier each year? I could have sworn that several stores in my neighborhood had Christmas decorations up before they brought in the pumpkins for Halloween!
Whether or not Christmas and other holiday shopping did begin earlier than usual this year, it is clearly in full swing now, and so I would like to encourage parents to pay close attention to the toys they (and Santa) bring home this year for their children...particularly the very young ones. While some toys can be quite dangerous to young eyes, others can actually help improve children's vision.
From the moment of birth, your child is learning to see. He or she progresses from the newborn's blurry world of light and dark to the school-age child's sophisticated ability to handle complex vision tasks.
Toys, games and playtime activities help by stimulating this process of vision development.
Here is a list of toys and activities that can help your child develop or improve various vision skills.
Birth through five months:
Six months through 8 months:
Nine months through 12 months:
Three to six years
Seven years and older:
On the other hand, there are toys that can cause serious eye injuries and vision loss. Parents should heed these warnings.
When buying toys, remember to select those that are well made and age appropriate. Provide proper eye safety equipment for older children and be certain that they wear protective eye ware when participating in eye hazardous sports and when using chemistry sets, shop tools, BB guns or other items. Inexpensive homemade toys can be just as effective in helping children develop and improve their vision skills as expensive store bought ones.
Finally, if you notice any of these signs, get medical help right away.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a safe holiday season to all.
Dr. Maurice Zadeh is president of the Georgia Optometric Association.
For more information about protecting your child's eyes, call the Georgia Optometric Association at 770-961-9866 or visit http://www.ciclt.net/goa on the web.