August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Matthew Sattler, M.D., PGY-2 Resident, Baylor College of Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Vision assessment is an important component of the routine care of all children. Most children are able to participate in a formal vision screen at their well-child visit when they are 4 years old. Between five and ten percent of preschool children have an undetected problem with their vision. Here are some warning signs that your child may have difficulty seeing:

  • Wandering or crossed eyes
  • A family history of childhood vision problems
  • Disinterest in reading or viewing distant objects
  • Squinting or turning the head in an unusual manner
  • Eyes that flutter quickly from side to side or up and down
  • White or grayish-white color in the pupil

Discuss any concerns about your child’s vision with his or her pediatrician as your child may need to be referred to an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for treatment. You can read more about common eye problems at HealthyChildren.org, a website approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Taking care of your child’s eyes also means keeping them safe from injury. Did you know there are more than 19,000 children treated in emergency rooms for eye injuries every year? Most eye injuries in children are the result of sports injury, especially basketball, baseball or softball, and non-powder guns (e.g. paintball, BB guns). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend the following for each sport:

  • Basketball: protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses
  • Baseball or softball: facemask attached to batting helmet when batting, polycarbonate faceguard for fielders
  • Non-powder gun: Eye protection meeting ASTM standard F1766

Another way to prevent eye injuries in children who are too young to play sports is to ensure that all toys are age-appropriate and do not contain sharp edges that could damage the eye.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the health of your child’s eyes, please schedule an appointment to talk with your child’s pediatrician. If your child experiences a serious eye injury or eye infection, visit one of our 24/7 emergency centers in San Antonio:

  • The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, 333 N. Santa Rosa Street
  • The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Emergency Center – Stone Oak, 1434 E. Sonterra Blvd.
  • The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Emergency Center – Westover Hills, 11130 CHRISTUS Hills, Medical Plaza 3, First Floor

Look Before You Lock

Jacqueline Khalaf, BSN, RN, CPST, Injury Prevention and Community Outreach Coordinator, Trauma Department, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician

The stories in the news are becoming too common:  “Child left alone in car dies.” 

Most parents believe it can never happen to them, but even the slightest change in routine or stress level can be a distraction that leads to the unthinkable.  Sleeping babies are so peaceful and it can be tempting to think that you can just run inside the store for a quick errand.  Never leave a child alone in a car.  Even a quick errand inside can lead to injury or death from heatstroke, even when the weather cools off.

Every 10 days, a child dies from heatstroke after being left in a car.  Last year alone, Texas tied with Florida for the number of cases of vehicular exhaustion. 

Here’s what you need to know about heat strokes in kids:

  • The temperature inside a car can rise 19 degrees or more in 10 minutes. 
  • Cracking windows does not help.
  • A child’s body heats up four to five times faster than an adult’s.

There are simple tips that can help:

  • Leave a cue in the back seat – a purse, work bag, or phone.
  • Have a plan with your daycare to check on your child.
  • Keep your car locked when you are not in it.
  • Don’t leave car remotes around children as they can get trapped in hot vehicles.
  • And always look before you lock!