Did you know...?
- The average time a child spends looking at a screen is over 7 hours per day!
- 25% of kids in Kindergarten - 6th grade have vision deficiencies.
- Approximately 80% of all learning in a classroom is done visually.
- Nearsightedness (Myopia) has increased 66% over the last 30 years.
We know, some of these stats may be a little surprising, but then again in the age of apps, Pokémon Go, selfies and experiences only counting when they’re documented on social media, are they really? According to the National Center for Health Research, children under the age of 2 spend on average more than 2 hours in front of a screen. This means that our children are now spending more time staring at screens than ever before and are starting at a much younger age. Here are some ways that you can make sure your children are receiving enough eye health support.
According to the American Optometric Association, adding the following nutrients to your diet through foods or supplementation can aid in preserving your vision.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Unfortunately, many Western diets are low in these carotenoids, which can be found in dark leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale and also corn and eggs. These antioxidants are located in the eye and are responsible for protecting the macula, a highly sensitive spot of the retina responsible for detailed central vision. Lutein and Zeaxanthin have the very critical role of filtering out harsh blue light (from those computers, tablets, TVs and phone screens) and reducing the damage of the eye from free radicals.
Vitamin E: Another antioxidant that is low in many Western diets is vitamin E, which can be found in cereal, peanut butter, nuts and sweet potatoes. Research has shown that vitamin E can protect the cells of the eye from the damage of free radicals. When healthy eye tissue is damaged it can lead to an increase in cataract formation and risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Vitamin C: An antioxidant that is found in fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and spinach. The cells in your eye, like most of the cells in your body, depend on vitamin C to support healthy blood vessels. This antioxidant has also been shown to lower the risk of developing cataracts and can slow the development of age-related macular degeneration in combination with other nutrients.
Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for healthy vision. Vitamin A plays a vital role in the process of your retina taking in light and seeing, especially at night. It also aids the surface of your eye in fighting off infections. There are two types of vitamin A, preformed vitamin A, which is found in dairy, fish and meat and provitamin A, which is found in many fruits and vegetables, with the most common source being beta-carotene. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children in developing countries.
Zinc: An essential trace mineral that is found in seafood, meat, and dairy that plays the crucial role of transporting vitamin A to the retina. Your body cannot produce the required amount of zinc, so it is important to receive it through diet, fortified foods and beverages and supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: DHA and EPA are imperative for vision development and retina function throughout life and are found in fatty fish, such as salmon and other seafood. These healthy fats are formed limitedly in the body so it is important to consume a diet high in omega-3s or supplement your diet.