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An Eye on Toy Safety

Selecting the right toys with eye safety in mind is a concern for every parent. How can parents make sure they choose toys that keep kids' eyes in mind?

Children are born with only semi-formed vision. Few things stimulate a child's visual development more efficiently than toys and activities that involve hand-eye coordination and a deeper understanding of spatial relationships. The best toys for stimulating an infant's vision in their first year of life include mobiles with geometric patterns or bright primary colors and activity gyms with detachable and changeable objects, balls, books and puppets. Until they're 3 months old, babies can't entirely see color, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are really great for their age group.

Children spend a considerable amount of time playing with their toys, so it's important to check those toys are safe. Children should play with toys especially created for their specific age group. And up there with age appropriateness is to be sure that the toy is developmentally appropriate, too. Despite the fact that toy companies indicate age and developmental appropriateness on packaging, it is up to you to be discerning, and not allow your son or daughter to play with toys that could lead to an injury and vision loss.

Make sure your child's things are made well and won't fall apart when they're used, and check any coating (like paint) is non-toxic and won't flake, as small particles can easily get into eyes. Children like to horse around, but they need to learn to be on the look out for airborne objects and swings or even swinging ropes that might hit the eye. If the eye gets hit by something, it can cause a corneal abrasion, or a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage, which is a popped blood vessel. Other times, the impact can appear decades after the event, as a contributing cause of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

Don't buy toys that have points or edges or any sharp parts for a little kid, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, make sure the end is rounded. Closely supervise toddlers when they play with such toys.

For kids below 6 years old, stay clear of toys which shoot, such as dart guns. Always pay close attention with those kinds of toys. Whereas, if you have older kids who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they are wearing protective eyewear.

So the next time you're looking to buy gifts for a special occasion, take note of the toy makers' advice about the intended age group for the toy you had in mind. Ensure that toys you buy don't pose any risk to your child - even if it looks like lots of fun.