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Eyes - protecting your eyes

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Eyes are very important to us, so we have to be careful to look after them. They show us our world and they show others how we are feeling. When we talk to other people, we notice what their eyes are saying as well as what they are saying with their mouths.

Can you think of times when you can tell by someone's eyes whether they are happy smiley face or sad sad face or angry angry face?

eyesSome people look away when they are bored.

Some people do not look at the other person's eyes when they talk, because in some cultures it is thought to be rude. What do you do with your eyes when you are listening to someone?

The main job that eyes do for us is to see. Here are a couple of words you might want to know to understand about eyes.

  • 'Sight' means being able to see (I can see something out there).
  • 'Vision' means being able to understand what you are seeing (I know what it is - it is a tree).

Some ways to look after your eyes

Because eyes are so precious, we need to really take care of them.

  • Take care to protect your eyes when you are playing, especially in sports, eg. wear goggles for snow skiing, helmets and guards for cricket and baseball.
  • Turn on lights when it's getting dark (especially if you're reading).
  • Wear sunglasses and hats on bright days.
  • Tell your parent or carer if your eyes are sore.
  • Tell your teacher if you can't clearly see the blackboard/whiteboard or your book clearly.
  • Tell your teacher if the text is not clear.
  • Keep sunscreen away from your eyes - it really stings if it runs into your eyes.
  • Wear your glasses if you need them. 
  • Don't wear other people's glasses.
  • Your eyes get sore if you watch a computer or TV screen for too long, so do lots of different things in your spare time (you need exercise, and so do your eyes).
  • Looking directly at the sun (or any really bright light, including lightning) can damage your eyes.
  • Rubbing your eye if you get something in it can hurt your eye, so ask an adult to help you or wash your eye with water until it feels better.
  • Use the correct drops/medication for your eyes if you need them, and do not use any that someone else has used.
  • Wear protective glasses when you are gardening or at all other times when dirt or other things might fly into your eyes.

Exercise your eyes!

Reading, writing, using a computer, watching TV or staring at a small screen on a phone can all make your eyes feel dry and tired.

Some research suggests that too much close work can even lead to short sightedness (myopia  [say: my-oh-pee-a]), which means that you can only see things clearly when you are up close to them.

You can help your eyes by exercising them. Here are a few things you can try.

  • Every 20 minutes let your eyes take a break.
  • Look away from the page or screen and slowly blink your eyes 10 times.
  • Close your eyes and slowly roll your eyeballs round clockwise 2 times then 2 times anti clockwise.
  • Look to the left then to the right 2 times with your eyes closed then do the same looking up and down. Move your eyes slowly.
  • Look at something further away and focus on it while you count to 10 then look at the screen or page while you count to 10. Do this 5 times.

The rest of your body needs a break too. Close your eyes and take 10 slow deep breaths holding the air in for 10 before breathing out. Stand up and move around a bit. Roll your shoulders, bend sideways and slowly roll your head around.

If you have problems seeing clearly your doctor or optician may give you some other exercises which may help.

Sunglasses and hats

  • All children (and adults) should wear sunglasses if they are going to be in bright sun light.
  • Babies usually don't wear sunglasses - they might poke the sunglasses in their eyes! Babies should be sheltered from the sun by a hat, shade umbrella or the shade of a tree or roof.
  • It is important that everyone's eyes are protected from sun damage. Sunglasses should pass the Australian standards to protect eyes from the sun. There will be a sticker telling you this on the glasses. 
  • Hats that shade the eyes are important.

Eye injuries

Children’s hospitals say that at least 90% of all eye injuries could have been prevented.

40% of accidents happen at home.

exercising Many others happen during sport activities.
Bat and ball sports are the most dangerous sports for eyes.

Many injuries happen when something sharp is thrown, or poked at people (eg pencil) - or something is flicked (such as a necklace).

Often the eye will recover from the injury, but sometimes the person will lose sight in the injured eye.

How to protect your eyes

At home

Wear safety glasses if you are helping mum or dad with:

  • mowing the lawn or cutting back plants
  • learning to use power tools
  • helping in the shed
  • watching fireworks at home. Never play with fireworks yourself.

Children with vision in one eye only should always wear impact-resistant glasses during playtime and sport.

Safety for other people

Here are some ways to help make sure you don't hurt anyone else's eyes.


  • eyesthrow sand, dirt or small things at others
  • run with pointy things like pencils or scissors in your hands
  • fire anything at others, eg. Spud gun, peashooter, paper planes, etc.
  • spray insects or use any other kind of spray without warning others.

Can you think of other things that might hurt someone's eyes?

Injuries can easily happen, so you have to really think about what you are doing. Wouldn't it be awful if someone's eyes were hurt and it was your fault?

Could you have a problem?

What if your eyes don't work properly or don't see as well as they should?

Lots of people have problems with their eyes. Sometimes you don't even know you have a problem at first because you don't know that everyone else can see things differently.

Some people who have problems with their eyes say "I can see what they are doing, but I can't see who is doing it". You can miss a lot of things if you can't see well.

Here are some things that might tell you that you are not seeing as well as you could:

  • You can't see the board.
  • Writing looks blurry.
  • Your eyes hurt or feel tired.
  • Your eyes feel hot, or they sting or twitch.
  • You get headaches when you've been reading or writing for a while.
  • It's hard to copy from the board.
  • You can't tell the difference between some colours.
  • You keep losing your place when reading or copying.
  • You need your book close up to your eyes to be able to read it.
  • When you look up from your work everything looks blurred or misty.

What to do

If you are worried or not sure if you have a problem with your eyes, tell your parents or carers or a teacher.

What happens next?

Have your eyes tested. This does not hurt, and it helps to find out if there is anything wrong. You may need to see a special eye doctor or an optician (say op-tish-an) for this.

Here are some of the things that an eye doctor or optician may suggest if your eyes need help:

  • doing special eye exercises.
  • wearing glasses for a short time.
  • wearing glasses for a long time.
  • wearing contact lenses if you are old enough (over about 18). These can be great but they take some getting used to. They're pretty expensive too and they don't give your eyes as much protection from injury as glasses.

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate

Your body does its best to protect your eyes from damage.

  • Your tear ducts start to make tears if your eyes are dry and feeling sore.
  • Your eyelashes 'catch' dust before it gets onto your cornea.
  • Your eyelids start to close if the light is too bright or the air is full of dust or smoke.

And now you know what you can do to help protect your eyes and keep them working well for you.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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