Montana Public Radio

Teaching Kids About Their Eyes: Dr. Starbuck Explains

Jun 13, 2018

Hi! I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician. I’m here today with health tips on eyes.

Our eyes are pretty amazing. They take light and turn it into vision, they take in all sorts of information about the world around us.

The eye is made of important parts: the pupil which is the dark circle in the center of your eye, the iris which is the colored part, the cornea which is the clear part on the front of the eye that covers the pupil and the iris, the sclera which is the white part of the eye, the conjunctiva which is a clear membrane that covers the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eye, he retina which is on the very back of your eye and a nerve called the optic nerve  goes from your retina to your brain.

When you open your eyes, light comes in. It goes through the pupil and through the back of your eye to your retina. Then the retina makes a signal that the optic nerve carries to your brain. Your brain turns that signal into vision. Pretty cool, huh?

There are sometimes problems with the eyes. Like light doesn’t come in quite the right way and you need glasses. Or you might be blind and not able to see. Or you might get dry eyes when the air is smoky or polluted or dusty. Allergies can make your eyes itchy and red and you’ll want to rub them a lot. Or you might get pink eye, which is when you have germs in your eye. Yuck and ouch!

If you’re having trouble seeing at school, or if you get a headache when you read or work on a computer, tell your parents. You should get an eye exam because you might need glasses.

If your eyes are dry from pollution or allergies, there are two nice natural medicine treatments that you can do to help.

One is to do a cold, wet compress. Get a facecloth completely wet it with cold water. Wring it out, fold it in half, lie down and put the cloth over your eyes. If you leave it there for 10 minutes, fresh blood will come into the blood vessels your eyes. Doing this will help your dry and itchy eyes.

The second thing you can do is put saline drops in your eyes. Saline is salt and water that is especially made to match your body. You have to get saline that is made just for the eyes. Your parents can find it at a pharmacy and can put the saline drops in your eyes several times a day.

You can also get an eye infection called pink eye. When you have it, the white part of your eyes turns pink. Pink eye is also called ‘conjunctivitis’ because it irritates the conjunctiva, the covering over the white part of your eye. If you have pink eye, your parents should take you to the doctor. You might need special medicine for your eye. Pink eye is contagious, so don’t touch your eye and don’t let anyone else share your towels or toys.

It’s very important that you protect your eyes. Wash your face every day, especially when it’s dusty or smoky, so dirt doesn’t fall into your eyes. Wear protective glasses if you are working around things that could fly up and land in your eyes. Never put medicine in your eyes unless you parents tell you to.

I hope your eyes stay happy and healthy this year, and that they help you see all sorts of fun things in the world around you.

I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck and I’m wishing you well.