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Playing Safe: Kids and Eye Safety

It's important for parents to know how to select toys that are the safest and the most beneficial for kids.

Children are born with a partially developed visual system which forms throughout their early years with the correct stimulation. There aren't many things that encourage a child's visual development better than play, which involves hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. In the initial three months of life, babies can't completely see color, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are most engaging.

Because children spend so much time engaged in play with their toys, parents need to be sure that their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their total safety. A toy that is not age appropriate is often not safe. Don't forget to be sure that the toy is developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy companies mention targeted age groups on toy packaging, as a parent, you still need to be discerning, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with anything that may lead to eye injury or vision loss.

Look to see if your child's toys are made well so they won't lose small, mouth-size parts with normal use, and double-check any paint for finish used is not harmful in any way and won't flake, as small particles can easily get into eyes. Children like to horse around at times, but they need to learn to keep an eye out for balls and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that may hit and cause harm to eyes. If the eye gets hit by something, it can easily cause a corneal abrasion, or a popped blood vessel. And even when it seems as if there wasn't any damage, the impact can show up years after the event, as a contributing cause of something as serious as glaucoma.

Steer clear of toys that have points or edges or any sharp parts for little ones, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, always make sure the ends aren't sharp. Always pay attention when they play with such toys.

If your child is under 6 years old, avoid toys with flying parts, like slingshots. Even when they're older than 6, always pay attention with toys like that. Whereas, if you have older kids who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they have correct safety eyewear.

So the next time you're shopping for a special occasion, keep a close eye out for the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Ensure that toys you buy won't pose any harm to your child's eyes - even if your child really wants it.