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Keeping Toys Safe for Eyes

Sometimes it's challenging to choose toys that will be safe for our children's eyes.

Infants are born with an immature visual system which forms throughout their early years with the correct stimulation. Few things stimulate a child's visual development more easily than toys and activities that involve hand-eye coordination and a more concrete understanding of spatial relationships. In the initial three months of life, babies can't totally differentiate between colors, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are really great for their age group.

Because children spend a large amount of their day engaged in play with toys, it is up to us to check that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their sight. Children should be given toys designed for their specific age group. And up there with age appropriateness is to check that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Even though toy companies indicate targeted age groups on the box, it is up to you to make the call, and not allow your son or daughter to play with toys that may cause eye injury and permanent eye damage.

Toys should always be of decent quality, without parts that might break and wind up in the mouth of a toddler. And if they're painted, make sure it's not with anything that might be toxic. Everyone knows kids can sometimes be a little reckless, but they need to learn to look out for airborne objects and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that can strike the eye. If something like that does happen, it can result in a corneal abrasion, or pop a blood vessel in the eye (also called a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage). Other times, the result of the hit can manifest decades after the event, as a contributing cause of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

Steer clear of toys with edges or sharp components for young children, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, make sure the end is rounded. Always pay attention when they play with those kinds of toys.

For children younger than 6, be wary of toys which shoot, such as dart guns. Even when they're older than 6, always pay close attention with those kinds of toys. On the other hand, for older kids who have chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they wear safety goggles.

When you're next shopping for a holiday or birthday, take note of the toy makers' recommendation about the intended age group for the toy. Be certain that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child's eyes - even if they look fun to play with.

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