Nurses are ideally placed to inform parents about infant eye health, new research shows.
New research shows that Australian mothers look to early childhood health clinics and family care centres for infant eye health advice, with community nurses best placed to provide this.
Almost half of mothers who have discussed their child’s eye health with a healthcare professional listed staff at these centres among those they have turned to for advice, ranking them second only to GPs, at 72 per cent.
However, 42 per cent of mothers with children under four have never discussed their child’s eye health with a healthcare professional, found the research, funded by Wyeth Nutrition, which surveyed mothers of children aged four years of age and under, on their thoughts in relation to infant eye health and nutrition.
It also showed Australian mothers ranked eye health near the bottom of a list of potential health priorities for children, ranging from brain development to skin care.
“Nurses, particularly those working in community health clinics, are ideally placed to inform mums about important eye health matters,” says Jacinta Spurret, chief executive of the Eye Foundation.
The eye undergoes many complex anatomical changes during the early years of life, particularly in the first six months, so it is essential mothers are informed to ensure their child’s eyes receive the best start in life, she says.
Nutrition plays a central role in the development of the eye and essential elements, such as vitamin A, and other nutrients such as taurine, DHA and AA and lutein are important for eye health, development and function in the critical first six months.
As the leading provider of feeding information during this period, the nursing profession has a unique opportunity here, says Spurret.
While 90 per cent of surveyed mothers believed nutrition plays an important role in the health and development of young eyes, just as many had not heard of lutein.
A large proportion, 88 per cent, is unsure of the role it may play in protecting developing eyes.
At the inaugural Paediatric Eye Health Summit, held in March, world-renowned specialists showed numerous nutrients acting in an integrated manner are required during infancy to support the visual system and promote optimal visual development. If even one of the required nutrients is not present during this time, delayed visual development may occur.
Prioritising eye health in the early years is critical, says Spurrett.
“The eye health of infants is incredibly important and the nursing profession can play a lead role in ensuring the adequate checks are undertaken in these early years, so any problems can be identified and treated quickly.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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