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Playing Safe

It can be hard to choose toys that are safe for our kids' eyes.

Babies don't have a completely developed visual system at birth, but it becomes more refined over time. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development more efficiently than toys that involve hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't fully see color, so high contrast black and white pictures of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are particularly conducive to encouraging visual development.

Since children spend a great deal of time engaged in play with toys, parents need to be sure that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their eyesight. A toy that is not age appropriate is generally unsafe. Don't forget to check that the toy is developmentally appropriate, too. Although companies mention targeted age groups on the box, it is up to you to make the call, and be attentive, so that your son or daughter doesn't play with something that could be harmful to them.

Make sure your child's toys are made properly and won't fall apart with regular use, and check any paint for finish used is non-toxic and won't flake, as small particles can easily get into eyes. We all know that kids can be a little reckless, but they need to learn to be aware of balls and swings or even swinging ropes that might hit the eye. If something like that does happen, it can result in a corneal abrasion, or a burst blood vessel. And even if it looks like there wasn't any damage, the impact can show up years after the event, as a contributing cause of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

Avoid toys with edges or any sharp parts for little kids, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, always make sure the end is rounded. Always pay attention when they play with those kinds of toys.

For children younger than 6 years old, avoid toys which shoot, such as dart guns. Even when they're older than 6, always supervise children playing with those kinds of toys. On the other hand, when it comes to teens who enjoy chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they are wearing correct safety eyewear.

So the next time you're looking for gifts, pay attention to the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Be certain that there's no danger posed to your child's eyes.

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