As an optometrist, this is something I think about daily. In addition, as a father of four, I realize all of my clinical suggestions are great in theory, but actually getting my kids to do them is another thing. That being said, here is what I try to do over the summer:
First, macular degeneration and cataracts do not develop overnight, they are something that accumulates over time. I try my best to get my kids to wear sunglasses or hats when outside. With my oldest only being six, this is quite the challenge for all four of them, but we have tons of dollar store sunglasses that are better than no protection at all. If they do break, we have more to replace them. For a child that is responsible, polarized prescription sunglasses that have UV protection are the best option.
The other obstacle that we run into is time spent on screens or near work. My kids love to color and read. I encourage these activities over using iPads and TV. However, the benefit of being outdoors and the prevention of developing myopia (nearsightedness) is paramount over the summer. School utilizes technology so much that we are seeing a huge rise in kids needing glasses. Summer is a great time to combat that, so we try to have the kids spend at least 2 hours a day outside and if they do want to color or read, we have a “beach or picnic” day and do the activities outdoors. Every little bit helps.
Lastly, summer is the best time for parents to get their children eye exams. The main reason is you usually have more time during the day. Additionally, I like seeing the kids before school starts, so they start the year with their best possible vision. Too many times I have kids that come in over winter break only to find out they could not see the first half of the year.
To simplify it: do your best, enjoy the time with the family, and give the office a call if we can assist in any way!