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Understandably, parents are concerned with the eye safety of their kids. But it can be a challenge to know how to choose the toys that are the safest and most conducive to development.

Infants are born with an underdeveloped visual system which forms throughout their early years with the right stimulation. There aren't many things that stimulate a child's visual development more easily than playing, which encourages hand-eye coordination and a more concrete understanding of spatial relationships. In the initial three months of life, babies can't totally differentiate between colors, so simple black and white shapes and patterns are most engaging.

Since children spend a large amount of their day playing with toys, moms and dads must be sure that their toys are safe for both their overall health, and their sight. A toy that is not age appropriate is usually not safe. Along with age appropriateness is to make sure that toys are developmentally appropriate, too. Although toy manufacturers print age and developmental appropriateness on packaging, you still need to be alert, and not allow your child to play with anything that could cause an injury and loss of vision.

Make sure your child's things are made well so they won't lose small, mouth-size parts when they're used, and double-check any coating (like paint) is not lead-based and not likely to peel or flake off. Everyone knows children can sometimes be just a bit reckless, but they need to learn to look out for airborne balls and other things in the playground, like swinging ropes that might hit the eye. This can cause real injury such as a corneal abrasion, or a sub-conjunctival hemorrhage, which is a popped blood vessel. Other times, the result of the hit can show up decades later, as a contributing cause of glaucoma or a premature cataract.

All soft toys should be machine washable, and, for younger children, free of tiny parts can easily come off, such as buttons, sequins or bows. Avoid toys that have points or edges or any sharp parts for young children, and if your kids have toys with long handles, like pony sticks, make sure the ends aren't sharp. Always pay attention when they play with those kinds of toys.

If your child is under 6, stay clear of toys with flying parts, like arrows. Even if a child is old enough to play with such toys, you still need to pay attention with toys like that. Whereas, for teens who play with chemistry sets or woodworking tools, always make sure they wear correct safety eyewear.

So the next time you're shopping for a special occasion, look for the age and developmental recommendations on toys. Make sure that there's no danger posed to your child's eyes - even if it looks like lots of fun.

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