Children’s eye health is just as important as other aspects of their physical and mental well-being. According to a recent report from the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness, vision plays an important role in a child’s physical, cognitive and social development. And visual functioning is a strong predictor of academic performance in school-aged children.

While there are certain risk factors that can affect eye health, come the autumn, fall sports and Halloween are two areas where parents may have to extend extra caution to protect their children’s vision. Fortunately, there are many things parents can do to prevent visual and other injuries from affecting their children.

• Keep vision unobstructed. Choose costumes that do not have masks, wigs or accessories that impede the child’s ability to see. Tie any hats and scarves so they don’t slip down over the eyes.

• Exercise caution with cosmetics. Read warnings on Halloween makeup to see which products are safe to use on the face and around the eyes, and which are not. Only buy hypoallergenic makeup, and remove it carefully when Halloween is done so it won’t get in the eyes.

• Purchase safe cosmetic contact lenses. Speak with an eye professional to purchase colored or novelty lenses. Improperly controlled contact lenses can cause eye injuries like sensitivity to light and bacterial infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says decorative lenses purchased without a prescription may not fit properly, leaving eyes more susceptible to scratches on the outer layer of the eye. Decorative lenses also may contribute to ulcers, or open sores, on the cornea, which is the clear covering over the front of the eye. Discuss the safety of various lenses with your eye doctor and go over the proper handling of contact lenses.

• Trick-or-treat in daylight. Visibility is better during daylight hours, and sunlights makes youngsters less vulnerable to tripping over obstacles in their paths.

• Buy soft accessories. Particularly for younger children, avoid hard, plastic swords, staffs and other objects that can poke the eyes or cause bodily injury. Opt for bendable foam choices instead.

• Make kids as visible as possible. Use reflective tape, glow sticks and other tools to make kids more visible to drivers and pedestrians. A few simple precautionary measures can make this Halloween safe and fun.

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