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An Eye on Toy Safety

boys with thumbs upChoosing the right toys for eye safety is a concern for every parent. Children are born with an underdeveloped visual system which, through stimulation, develops throughout their growing years. Nothing stimulates a child's vision more easily than toys which help children develop hand-eye coordination, and understand spatial relationships. In the first three months of life, a baby's colour vision is poorly developed, so high contrast black and white images with images such as bulls-eye or checkerboard patterns are very helpful in stimulating visual development.

Since children spend a great deal of time playing with their toys, it is vital to make sure their toys are safe for their eyes as well as their overall safety. A toy that is not age appropriate is usually not safe. Hand-in-hand with age appropriateness is making sure the toy is developmentally appropriate.  Although toy manufacturers indicate age and developmental appropriateness on toy packaging, it is up to you to be smart and not allow your child to play with toys that could cause eye injury and even vision loss.

Blocks are safe for almost all ages, but make sure the corners and edges are blunted, to reduce the risk of eye injury. Toy size is also important. If you have toddlers, a toy that is large enough not to fit into a child's mouth but which can be manipulated into a smaller size is also not recommended. Put the toy away until your child is older. Make sure your child's toys are sturdily constructed so they won't break or fall apart with reasonable play and double-check that any paints or finishes are non-toxic and not likely to peel or flake off.    Kids like to horse around, and need to be aware of balls or even swinging ropes that can strike the eye.  Sometimes this causes immediate injury such as corneal abrasion or pop a blood vessel on the eye (sub-conjunctival hemorrhage).  Other times the impact will not show until decades later as glaucoma or premature cataract.

Avoid toys with rough edges or sharp components and check that long-handled toys such as a pony stick, broom or vacuum have rounded handles. Closely supervise toddlers with such toys.

If your child is under 6, avoid toys that shoot objects in the air such as slingshots, dart guns or arrows and closely supervise any child playing with these toys. If your older child plays with a chemistry set or woodworking tools, provide him or her with safety goggles.

So when shopping for the holidays, birthdays or other special occasions pay special attention to the age or developmental recommendations on toys and ensure that they don’t pose any harm your child's eyes – even if they look fun to play with.

Thank you for trusting your eyecare with us over the years.  The Foresight Eyecare team follows the government mandate to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  After December 2020 announcements made by the Alberta Government, our clinic is following the revised Infection Prevention and Control policy by the Alberta College of Optometrists.

Patients interested in obtaining eye exam services or eye care products can be seen by appointment only.  Please call ahead, and staff will arrange an appointment time and ask COVID-19 screening questions.  If you have any symptoms of cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath, we ask that you call or e-mail us and do not attend the clinic for your scheduled visit.   Within the clinic, please wear a mask and use the hand sanitizer at reception.  Our clinic complies with the City of Calgary bylaw requiring mask covering over the age of two years old.  For patients who are unable to wear a face covering due to medical reasons, the patient can be scheduled for an appointment at a time when minimal number of other patients are in the clinic such as at the beginning or end of the day to ensure appropriate physical distancing requirements.

We are using disposable disinfectant wipes on all surfaces and devices such as front desk counters, chairs, handles in exam rooms and waiting room.  All eyewear that have been touched by patients are continually being sanitized.   Any toys and magazines are stored at this time.  Examination areas are being sanitized with hospital grade disinfectant.  Debit and credit cards but NO CASH payments will be accepted.

COVID-19 symptoms are not always obvious.  We want to fend off this pandemic and minimize risk to our patients and the Foresight staff as front line health workers.   Contact that is closer than 2 m (6 feet) is to be avoided, with barriers in place when this cannot be avoided. We choose to continue to do our work and cautiously take care of our patients with compassion, humility, gentleness, and patience.   It is a challenging and new experience for many of us, so let‘s support each other and prevent virus spread!  Beyond 2020, our focus is on take care of you and keeping Clean Hands, Clear Heads and Open Hearts.   For more information, please refer to the following web pages or phone Health Link 811.

Drs. Dianna Leong, Anh Bui, Andrew Chan