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Safety at Play

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Sometimes it's challenging to choose toys that are not harmful for our children's eyes.

Infants are born with only semi-formed vision. Nothing stimulates a child's visual development more efficiently than playing, which involves hand-eye coordination and learning about spatial relationships. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't fully see color, so simple black and white pictures of things like bulls-eyes or checkerboard patterns are particularly conducive to encouraging visual development.

Kids spend a considerable amount of time playing with toys, so it's good for parents to know if those toys are safe or not. Kids should be given toys that are made for their specific age group. It is equally important to check that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Even though toy companies include targeted age groups on packaging, it is up to you to be alert, and prevent your son or daughter from playing with anything that may result in eye injury or vision loss.

Toys must be of decent quality, and not have small parts that might fall and wind up being choked on. And if they're painted, make sure it's not with anything toxic or harmful. Kids like to horse around at times, but they should always keep an eye out for airborne objects and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that can strike the eye. This can lead to immediate injury like a corneal abrasion, or a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage, which is a popped blood vessel. Even if there's no apparent injury, the result of the hit can show up decades after the event, as a contributing cause of something as serious as glaucoma.

Don't buy toys with edges or sharp components for little kids, and check that long-handled toys such as pony sticks or toy brooms have rounded handles. Always pay attention when they play with such toys.

For children below 6 years old, be wary of toys which shoot, like slingshots. Even when they're older than 6, always supervise children playing with toys like that. On the other hand, for older kids who enjoy chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always check that they are wearing safety goggles.

So the next time you're looking for a special gift for your child, look for the manufacturers' recommendation about the intended age group for the toy. Ensure that there's no danger posed to your child's eyes – even if your child really wants it.