Two children laying down on a blanket. They are both wearing sunglasses and holding a toy aeroplane.

Summer can present some unique challenges for children’s eye health. This guide covers five key tips for parents to help protect their children’s eyes during the warm summer months.

1. Be wary of allergies and pollen count

Children often experience more severe allergic eye disease during Spring and Summer months due to higher pollen counts and increased outdoor time.

Simple measures like washing their face, keeping bedroom windows closed at night, and using cold compresses for swollen or itchy eyes can provide relief.

If the itching is significant or the eyes are red, try over-the-counter allergy eye drops first. However, if those are insufficient, consider seeing your GP for a referral to Moorfields Eye Hospital. They have multiple treatment options available to help manage the condition effectively.

2. Limit screen time

During the long summer holidays, children may be tempted to spend excessive time on screens and electronic devices. Prolonged screen exposure can lead to dry, tired eyes, redness, and irritation.

Follow the 20/20/20 rule - a simple and effective method to rest your eyes and prevent digital eye strain. Look at something 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

3. Protect their eyes from the sun

Extended exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can damage the eyes. 

Just like using sunscreen, wearing sunglasses and/​or a sun hat with a brim should be essential for outdoor play in summer.

For young children, a hat with a brim is often preferred as it shields the eyes more effectively, so don’t worry if your toddler won’t wear sunglasses!

4. Use the holiday time to get an eye test

Children should have an annual eye examination starting around four years old. 

Many eye conditions in children are not apparent, and even strong prescriptions may not manifest in their behavior. 

Therefore, regular check-ups are essential and are free of charge. This is particularly important if there is a family history of wearing glasses or childhood eye problems.

Consider using the holiday time to take them to your local optician and make it an annual visit.

5. Keep going with any eye treatment

During school holidays, it might be tempting to give children a break from wearing glasses and/​or patching for their eye condition. 

While an occasional day off is acceptable, an extended period without proper treatment can be detrimental.

Not only does it directly affect the treatment’s progress, but it also decreases the likelihood of the child complying with the treatment once school resumes in September.

The purpose of the treatment is to maximise their vision development, which continues until around 7 years of age. Therefore, consistent adherence to the prescribed treatment during these formative years is crucial.