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Home » What's New » Let’s Play Safe: Eye Safety and Children

Let’s Play Safe: Eye Safety and Children

boys with thumbs upIt's important for parents to know how to choose toys that are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Children are born with an immature visual system which, through stimulation, becomes more refined throughout their growing years. There aren't many things that help a child's visual development better than toys and activities that involve hand-eye coordination and a more concrete understanding of spaces and distances between objects. Good toys for stimulating an infant's sight in his or her first year include geometric mobiles or bright primary colors and activity mats with detachable and changeable objects, puppets and balls. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't totally differentiate between colors, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are really great for their age group.

Since kids spend a large amount of their day engaged in play with their toys, it is up to us to make sure their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their total wellbeing. Kids should play with toys designed for their specific age group. Don't forget to be sure that toys are good for their level of development. Although toy companies mention age and developmental appropriateness on the box, it is up to you to be alert, so your son or daughter avoids playing with anything that could be damaging in any way.

Make sure your child's things are well-made and won't fall apart with normal use, and be sure that any paints or finishes are not lead-based and won't flake, as small particles can easily get into eyes. Everyone knows children can be a little reckless, but they need to be on the look out for airborne objects and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that can strike the eye. This can cause immediate injury such as a corneal abrasion, or a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage, which is a popped blood vessel. Even if there's no apparent harm, the impact can show up decades after the event, as a contributing cause of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

Stuffed, plush toys should be machine washable, and, for younger children, made without tiny parts can easily come off, such as buttons or ribbons. Don't buy toys with edges or sharp components for a little kid, and check that things with long sticks, like pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Closely watch toddlers when they play with those kinds of toys.

For kids younger than 6 years old, stay clear of toys which shoot, like arrows. Even when they're older than 6, always pay close attention with toys like that. On the other hand, if you have older kids who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they have correct safety eyewear.

So the next time you're shopping for gifts, keep in mind the toy makers' warning about the intended age range for the toy. Ensure that there's no harm posed to your child.