Fun Home Activities to Improve your Child’s Vision

activities to improve child vision

Dr. Parimala V Thirumalesh, Sr. Consultant - Neonatology & Paediatrics, Aster CMI, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

COVID pandemic has changed the life of children the most. When a child's development needs outdoor experience & activities, more than two years in succession, they are confined indoors within four walls. On top of it, they are strapped to the computer or mobile screens for their education.

Ideally, children are advised to avoid screen time during infancy and later during childhood to restrict it to less than an hour. On the contrary, the current situation demands them to stay in front of the screen for their entire school hours. It causes severe eye strain due to light emitted by the screen and body muscle strain, and weakness due to bad posture and sedentary lifestyle. Since this situation will take time to get normal, a constant question in every parent's mind is how to protect their child's eyes from this continuous strain. Additionally, how to compensate for the lack of physical activity!

Like how we can make the children stay active indoors by playing games involving physical activities like jumping, skipping, running, and cycling, there are eye exercises for kids that can be done at home.

Before starting the exercises, it is important to know that vision is about being able to see an object or letter. It has multiple components. For example, eyes only see, but the brain analyses, and then both the eye muscles coordinate together to complete the process of vision. So, the inability to see can be a problem in the eyes or the brain!

To understand the importance of different vision components, we need to see few examples where they are in full action.

Different types of vision components

Fixation: Babies have visual fixation only after one to two months. Only if you can fix an object can you appreciate the features like observing a painting or mother's face in the case of an infant. To improve this ability, you can hang an object above the baby's cradle. You can ask to look onto a bright-colored toy for a minute and see if the eyes wander away while trying to do that for older children.

Following or pursuit: This skill is important to see a moving object or person. A toy that moves from one place to other is enough to stimulate this skill in a baby but for older children, solving puzzles, mazes, or even reading and writing according to their age helps improve tracking.

Saccade: This can move fast between two objects, like moving from one letter to another while reading or writing! Small children can develop this skill by playing jack in the box where the toy appears in different places needing the baby to push it back in. Alphabet, cartoon balls, or balloons where some alphabets are drawn on the colored balls or balloons can be used to play a game of throw and tell whereby the balls or balloons are shown to the child before being thrown away, followed by asking the child to tell what they saw before it was thrown. Older children can read a book or write some sentences.

 

Accommodation: This skill is important to shift our focus from a distant object to near and back without a struggle. For example, a child looking at the blackboard (real or virtual) and copying that into his/ her notebook near to her need accommodation skill. The activity that can improve this skill is the nose thumb, where the child can be asked to hold his thumb 10 inches away from him and look at it and then look at his/ her nose. A toy can be used for a younger child. Also, a pencil can be used where the pencil can be moved closer to the child's eyes and away, asking the child to focus on the movement.

Binocular vision: We do not realize that we have two eyes. The images from both eyes are different because our brain merges both the images into one, thus giving a three-dimensional and depth perception. 

Sometimes in a condition called lazy eye or amblyopia, one eye is weak. Hence, the brain suppresses the image coming from that eye, thus concentrating only on the images received from the better eye. The doctor will advise an eye patch whereby the strong eye is covered with a patch to prevent this. All the activities are done with the weaker eye, thus improving the vision in that eye.

The coordination of movement between both eyes plays an important part in the development of binocular vision. The coordination can be strengthened by the figure of eight exercises using a pen or a thin toy where an imaginary figure of eight is drawn in front of the child's eyes. He/she is asked to follow the drawing, where all eye muscles have to move together, thus making them strong and coordinated.

Tips to improve child's vision while using devices

  • The mobile should be placed one foot away, laptops two feet away, and TV screen ten feet away from eyes.
  • Use a well-lit room but not with bright lights glaring on the eyes. Lighting should be from behind the child. Use the 20-20-20 rule, which means that every 20 minutes of screen time, take 20 seconds off to look at an object 20 feet away before resuming the screen work.
  • While working on the screen, Blink avoids dry eyes and fatigue as tears carry oxygen to the eyes and need blinking to circulate.

Conclusion

Help your children get stronger eyes and greater vision by following these simple, fun tips!