Did you know that more than 40 percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports or recreational activities?? With still a few weeks left to swim, plenty of time to camp, and school sports ahead, the American Optometric Association (AOA) with the Association of Camp Nursing (ACN) have compiled a checklist of essential safety tips for your children before they leave to camp/hike, jump in the pool or hit the field.
To ensure your child is best prepared to enjoy all that camp offers and comes home free of injury, the American Optometric Association (AOA) with the Association of Camp Nursing (ACN) have compiled a checklist of essential summer safety tips for your children and teens before they leave for camp:
- Set up general health checkups before attending camp. Parents should follow general health checkup procedures (such as visiting your child’s health care practitioner for an annual appointment) to minimize risks of other campers falling ill. Don’t forget to include a regular, comprehensive eye exam in this checkup list. The AOA encourages patients visit to find a doctor of optometry and schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam.
- Encourage eating fruits and vegetables. Before they leave, make sure your camper is eating healthy and encourage them to make the same choices at camp. It is important to eat nourishing foods and not over-consume junk food, fast foods or highly-processed foods to stay healthy and have energy during camp. Fruits and vegetables have been proven to improve eye health and provide vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
- Make a safe splash. If your kid is a first-time swimmer, make sure you sign them up for a few lessons before they hop in the pool or find a camp that provides lessons. The AOA also recommends using watertight googles if they wear contacts when they swim, preferably it is best to remove the lenses. Water and contact lenses do not mix.
- Do a quick mental health check. The school year can be mentally and emotionally taxing so make sure your child feels like camp is actually a “break.” Before camp, be on the lookout for any changes in habits, withdrawal, decreased social and academic functioning, erratic or changed behavior and increased physical complaint, then seek a professional expert for counsel. ACN reminds kids to say no to bullying!
- Beware of smoky eyes at the campfire. Some of the best nights of camp are spent roasting marshmallows during a bonfire. However, the AOA encourages campers to exercise caution if they’re spending an extended amount of time near smoky haze, which can wreak havoc on people’s eyes – causing red eye and irritation. The inhalation can cause inflammation, headaches and more. Encourage your child to limit exposure to the fire by walking away for a while. If they’re experiencing issues with their eyes, consider purchasing and using artificial tears or a cold compress.
- Falls are no fun for anyone. The ACN encourages campers to wear closed-toed shoes when engaging in outdoor fun, especially if they’re hiking or climbing. Protective gear will help prevent slips and falls.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray. To protect from the sun, seek shade, wear protective clothing and use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Remember to consider the flora and fauna in your area and use a bug spray with DEET or other natural repellents. Stinging insects and ticks can create an unfavorable experience if not prevented initially.
- Watch out for bacteria in the lake. If they’re taking a swim in the lake or river this summer, be mindful of bacteria. While it’s not super common, bacteria and other microorganisms can cause serious eye infections.
- Find some shades: Wearing a hat will only get you so far. While the AOA’s 2017 Eye-Q Survey found that nearly seven in ten Americans wear sunglasses during outdoor sports, another 30 percent do not and are risking their eye health from sun exposure. Sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection are important to protect eyes from sun damage.
Article written by guest author REBECCA TAYLOR on Behalf of the AOA