by Catherine Borgeson, O.D., Board Certified Optometric Physician
The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, filled with dazzling decorations, sparkling lights, and gleeful gatherings of friends and families. There’s shopping to do, places to go, and decorations to put up. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be stressful, no need to add an unintended injury to it.
Follow these holiday safety tips to keep the holly-jolly spirit going:
• Check the recommended age for toys and be aware of choking or strangulation hazards in children less than 3 years old. If an object can fit through a toilet paper roll, then it’s a choking hazard. Any strings longer than 12 inches pose a strangulation hazard.
• Be careful of toys with batteries that can be removed as batteries contain acid and can cause burns if not used properly.
• Keep the breakable or otherwise harmful decorations out of young children’s reach. The top of trees are better places for things like glass ornaments, and mantles are better than tables for flaming candles.
• Remember to include the safety equipment like helmets for bikes and skates. The helmets need to be sized and fit properly. Sports glasses are a good gift idea for any budding athlete as well.
• Keep toys appropriate for older kids away from younger siblings. Lost LEGO pieces can be annoying when stepped on, but can turn deadly in the hands of a toddler.
• Observe video game age-ratings. No one likes having nightmares or having grandma walk in on “mature” content.
• Always supervise your kids! Supervising qualifies as family bonding.For our furry friends:
• Clean up after unwrapping presents; wrapping paper and other packaging can be ingested by pets, ending in an expensive vet bills.
• Beware of any food allergies. Secret ingredients in family recipes will need to be disclosed so it doesn’t send someone to the hospital.
• Drive safely! Wear your seat-belt, make sure any children are using the appropriate age and weight car seats, and have a designated driver or call an Uber if drinking.
• Before giving a digital device (like an iPhone, tablet, laptop, etc.) to someone as a gift, consider the impact of Digital Eye Strain, or “Computer Vision Syndrome.” The classic signs of Digital Eye Strain in all age groups include headaches, tension around the eyes or brow, blurry vision, burning and/or tearing in the eyes, and neck pain. One technique for relieving these symptoms is the “20-20-20 rule”: for every 20 minutes on a digital screen, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet away (or as far in the distance as you can). This relaxes the eye’s focusing system and reminds you to blink properly. Children are at a higher risk than adults for digital devices damaging their eyes. In recent years, with the increase in digital devices, more children are developing myopia (nearsightedness) and will need glasses to correct their vision. The National Eye Institute recognizes the more children use digital devices and do close-up activities, the higher the chance of them developing nearsightedness. While genetics also play a role in becoming nearsighted, more studies point to environments filled with digital screens as being another major risk factor. Luckily, playing outdoors with natural sunlight decreases the risk of nearsightedness and encourages children to exercise. Keep a balance of indoor activities and outdoor activities to help children’s eyes develop properly.
Everyone here at Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida wishes you a happy holiday season and prosperous new year! Thank you for letting us serve you this past year and we look forward to seeing you again in 2018.(Reminder: Don’t forget to use your vision insurance benefits for 2017 before they expire. Health flex points can be used for glasses!)