This lesson helps young people understand how their eyes work, how to keep them healthy, and ways to protect them during different activities. The topic is introduced with whole-group formative assessment questions to generate interest and discussion. Then, youth complete an activity where they learn the parts of the eye. Finally, they learn tips for taking care of their eyes.
Start with an interactive voting activity. Use the lesson for the interactive whiteboard (see What You Need) or write the questions on the board. Let the young people vote.
1. An eyeball is about the size of:
- A marble
- A grape
- A tennis ball
- A ping pong ball (correct answer)
2. Our eyebrows are useless and just for appearance:
- False (correct answer; eye brows kept moisture, like sweat, out of our eyes)
3. You can get a sunburn on your eyes.
- True (correct answer; You can protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV protection.)
4. Which of the following can be a sign that someone has an eye problem?
- Blinking or rubbing their eyes a lot
- Eyes looking crossed or one seems to be going the wrong way sometimes
- Squinting when looking at objects
- All of the above (correct answer)
Ask if any of the answers were suprising. Which ones? Let young people talk about any problems they’ve have with their own eyes if they volunteer that information, but keep the conversation relatively brief and focus on what they can do to keep their eyes healthy, no matter what problems they’ve had in the past.
Activity: Parts of the Eye
After the opening quiz, have the youth work in small groups to do the Eye Didn’t Know That activity on the worksheet or at the interactive whiteboard. Once the small groups have identified the parts of the eyes, discuss the answers as a large group.
Conclusion: Taking Care of your Eyes
You only have one set of eyes and they have to last you your entire life. There are several ways you can take care of your eyes that will help them work better for you now and in the future. Discuss these tips with the youth.
- Give your eyes a break from the screen—Our eyes need rest just like the rest of us does…when working on a computer or using other electronics take breaks every 15 minutes or so.
- Make sure you have good light when reading, writing, doing puzzles, or otherwise focusing closely for an extended period.
- Protect eyes from bright light and sun exposure. Say something like, Research is linking UV rays from the sun to eye problems. Problems range from temporary blindness to developing something called cataracts, which cause cloudy vision and can only be repaired with surgery. Buying the right kind of sunglasses can help prevent problems from UV rays. For the best protection look for at least 98 percent protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Then ask for examples of other ways to protect eyes during different activities. If not mentioned, talk about the following:
- Outdoor cold weather sports with lots of sun exposure such as skiing or snow boarding—Sport goggles with UV protection.
- Outdoor warm weather sports with lots of sun exposure such as sailing or other water sports
- Protect eyes from possible injury.
- Swimming—Swim goggles, especially in chlorinated water
- Contact sports such as basketball or soccer—Sport goggles if a prescription is needed
- Shooting sports, using power tools, doing science experiments—Protective glasses or goggles
- Eat foods with lots of beta carotene—Ask if anyone knows of foods that contain this nutrient. Beta carotene is food in large quantities in orange foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. It helps keep your eyes strong and working well.
Continuing the Conversation
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing eye health and eye protection at home.
Additional Instructor Resources
Phillips Eye Institute
Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month
Children’s Eye Safety – Gear Up! Poster