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What's Best for Kids' Eye Health? Experts Give Insight
Date:12/26/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- For generations, countless adults have urged kids to eat carrots to protect their eyesight.

"Anything that's good for your body is good for your eyes, especially vegetables," explained Dr. James McDonnell, a professor of ophthalmology and director of pediatric ophthalmology at the Loyola University Health System and the Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago.

But how does the average adult, without medical training, know whether the words of wisdom being doled out -- whether about crunching carrots or anything else -- are good advice? And what else do parents need to know to keep their kids' vision keen?

Here's a sampling of advice from eye experts:

How often should children have their eyes screened for vision problems?

Generally, kids don't need any additional eye exams. Schools and pediatricians screen for eye problems and should flag any eye issues that warrant a visit to an eye specialist.

"The process is set up to screen all children for the most common eye problems," said Dr. Erin Stahl, an ophthalmologist at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo. But, she did recommend that "parents should make sure that these screenings are being done yearly."

But, if children complain of eye pain or say that they're having trouble seeing, take them to an eye specialist, she said. The same is true if you notice that your child's eyes don't seem to be aligning properly.

Children don't always wear their glasses. Can this be harmful?

McDonnell said the answer to this question can depend on the reason the glasses were prescribed. But, in general, if an eye doctor has prescribed glasses for a child, there's probably a good reason that he or she needs to wear them.

"Most of the time, I put kids in glasses because without them their eyes cross," McDonnell said. "The glasses
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