With the summer season in full swing, making plans to protect your long-term vision is important. Dr. Robert Tauscher, a pediatric ophthalmologist at UAB’s Callahan Eye Clinic in Pelham, provides some safety tips for children’s eye health this summer.

What are some helpful tips to provide to help keep children’s eyes healthy during the summer months?

Great question. We want to remind them to take regular breaks from screens and engage in outdoor activities to reduce eye strain. We like to promote the 20/20/20 rule which is to take a 20 second break from close-up activities (tablets, phones, books, etc.) every 20 minutes and look at least 20 feet away. Encourage them to wear sunglasses, as this can increase eye comfort during outdoor activities. Encourage good hygiene habits such as washing hands, to help prevent all sorts of infections, including eye infections.

What are some of the common problems that arise from children not being careful with their eyes during the summer?

Excessive screen time and not taking breaks can lead to digital eye strain, causing symptoms like eye fatigue, headaches, and blurred vision. Additionally, the increase in outdoor play and sports, while healthy, can increase the risk of injury to the eye.

Is summer a good time to come in for an eye exam?

Summer is a great time to schedule an eye exam. With the break from school, children have more availability for appointments. Moreover, eye exams can detect common vision problems and correct them before they affect learning and development in the upcoming school year. Lastly, outdoor activities during summer often expose the eyes to more sun and potential hazards, making it important to ensure optimal eye health.

How early do you see patients in terms of their age?

All the pediatric ophthalmologists at UAB Callahan Eye see children of all ages, from the moment they are born until around 18 years old. We see them as early as needed–sometimes even during the first week of life.

For those who are involved in sports activities during the summer months, or things like band, what are some helpful reminders for eye safety?

For those involved in sports or outdoor activities, it is important to prioritize eye safety. Wearing protective eyewear like goggles or safety glasses designed for the specific sport or activity can prevent eye injuries from flying objects and collisions.

Swimming is a popular summer pastime…what are some reminders for those who will be near a lot of water this summer as it relates to their eyes? Are there a type of goggle that is better for the eyes or one that you recommend children use?

When swimming, it is important to protect your eyes from chlorine and other chemicals in the water, which can cause irritation and dryness. Wearing swim goggles can provide a barrier between the eyes and the water, reducing the risk of eye infections and irritation. Look for goggles that fit well, provide a watertight seal, and offer UV protection for added eye safety.

What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about eye health?

One of the biggest misconceptions about eye health is that vision problems will always cause obvious symptoms. In reality, many eye conditions, including some refractive errors and eye diseases, can develop without noticeable signs or symptoms, especially in children. Regular eye exams with your pediatrician and–if needed–a pediatric ophthalmologist are crucial to detect and address these issues early.

For parents, what are some helpful tips they can put into practice this summer for eye safety/eye health?

Encourage good habits like wearing sunglasses and hats to protect their children’s eyes from the sun. Limit screen time and encourage outdoor activities. Teach proper hand hygiene to prevent eye infections.

UAB Callahan Eye Clinic in Pelham is located at 3143 Pelham Parkway Suite 200. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call or text (205) 325-8620.