As a child develops from birth through school age, so does their eyesight. Newborns are born with blurry farsighted vision, and many children develop nearsightedness by the time they reach school. According to pediatric ophthalmologist Ellen Mitchell, MD, “One of the recommended ways we encourage vision development is to visually stimulate a child through toys. However, it’s important to pay attention to their eye safety.”
While toys can be fun and educational, that doesn’t always mean they are safe. Despite warnings and age recommendations on most toys, Prevent Blindness America reports that children suffer over 11,000 toy-related eye injuries each year.
Learn more about child eye safety, and how to select safe toys in the post below.
Common Eye Injuries
Some of the common toy-related eye injuries include:
- Corneal abrasion – scratch
- Ocular hyphema – a painful condition in which blood pools in the front part of the eye due to a broken blood vessel and can cause permanent vision problems
- Traumatic cataract – clouding of the lens of the eye that occurs following an eye injury
- Ocular hypertension – increased level of pressure in the eye putting the patient at an increased risk for developing glaucoma later in life
While these common eye injuries can be serious, the majority of eye-related injuries can be treated and have no lasting effects. By avoiding the toys below and supervising children during play most eye injuries can be avoided.
Choosing the Safe Toys for Your Children
When selecting toys for your children remember to follow these guidelines:
- Avoid toys with sharp edges
- Avoid toys with flying objects
- Keep toy guns (BB, paintball, pellet, etc.) away from children
- Avoid toy weapons (bow and arrow, projectiles, darts, etc.)
- Avoid fireworks
While age-level recommendations are important to follow, parents and caregivers should decide what toys are safe for their children.
The following toys can be safe and visually stimulating for children:
- Under 12 months: brightly colored mobiles, stuffed animals, stacking blocks
- 12 – 24 months: Board books, blocks, puzzles, shape sorters, toys with lights
- 24 -36 months: Finger paints, felt board and pieces, musical toys, magnetic letters
- 3 – 6 years: Large crayons and markers, board games, toy camera
- 9 – 10 years old: Modeling clay, bicycle, sports equipment
If an eye-related accident occurs, consult your ophthalmologist. To learn more about protecting your children’s eyes, or to make an appointment with an expert, contact the UPMC Eye Center, or call 412-647-2200.
Do you have any favorite safe toys you recommend for children?