Examination periods lead to increased risk for vision problems
Is there a correlation between examination and vision problems? Research findings reveal some discoveries and tips on what to do.
It’s almost exam season.
Without realising it, you are entering into one of the high risk times, concerning your child’s eyesight health. There is nothing more risky to child eyesight than extended close-up vision, for long stretches.
The #1 cause of myopia is too much close-up.
But without a doubt, your child’s future vision health is in your hands. Right now, during the time of school stress, studying and exams, your child needs your guidance more than ever. You can help ensure that your child will see the world through healthy eyes, and the time for action is right now.
And myopia doesn’t just mean glasses.
Myopia has increasingly become associated with depression, learning disabilities, and antisocial behaviour.
You also have to worry about the risk of blindness associated with high myopia (retina tears risk increases ten fold for myopia over just five diopters).
But before we get into the how-to of protecting child eyesight health, let’s take a quick look at how clearly established the causes of myopia really are. We need to do this since retail optometry has a lot of conjecture on this topic, and one might be cautious of their prerogative of selling glasses. The conflict of interest there is notable. Prevention means less sales, and selling prescription is the business of those who you depend on for vision health advice.
According to a study published in Jama Opthalmology, it showed that our kids in Singapore score higher in terms of myopia as compared to kids in Sydney. Despite the fact that children in Sydney read more books, the point that they spend more time outdoors seems to play a role too. And the difference, removing the variables of ethnicity and parental genetics, is still staggering:
A six year old child growing up in Sydney has a 3% chance of being myopic, and the same ethnicity child has a massive 29% chance in Singapore.
That’s a ten times higher risk for myopia for your child, in Singapore, which leads to vision problems.
Myopia isn’t genetic, nor otherwise a flaw in your child’s biology. Myopia is environmental stimulus, pure and simple.
So, given the significant risks for not only long term vision health, but also mental health and social development, what can you do for your child’s eyesight health?
- No more than three hours of close-up at one time.
This is absolutely critical. There should be no more than three hours of studying, reading, or playing computer games at any one time, and frequent breaks should be practised.
Why? The short term problem with that much close-up is that the focusing muscle in the eye (the ciliary) tends to spasm, creating what is often referred to as “pseudomyopia” or NITM (near-induced transient myopia). This is highly likely to be misdiagnosed and treated with glasses, rather than seen for what it really is – a focusing muscle spasm, due to too much close-up.
The long term problem with those many hours of close-up is that the dynamic nature of the eye will cause a shift in axial length. The eye will have a tendency to grow longer, which in turn is a key physiological cause of myopia development.
Ideally you want to balance two hours with close-up with at least 30-45 minutes of outdoor time, or otherwise playing in a non-screen or otherwise static close-up environment.
- Outdoor time.
Getting outside gives your child full-spectrum UV light, lots of different distance focal planes, and allows the ciliary muscle in the eye to relax. This is undisputedly a great thing to do for eyesight health, and should be a consistent habit.
The British Journal of Ophthalmology featured a study to investigate the relationship of outdoor activities and myopia in Singapore teenage children.
They found that participants who spent more time outdoors were less likely to be myopic. Thus, outdoor activity may protect against development of myopia in children, supporting recent Australian data. As near work did not predict outdoor activity, this can be viewed as an independent factor and not merely the reciprocal of near work.
#1 cause of myopia is too much close-up time which can lead to vision problems for your child. Taking breaks, consistently, is the remedy. Getting outside also makes a significant difference.
- Minus glasses can create more myopia.
There is “lens-induced myopia”, discussed at great lengths in medical journals, but entirely ignored by retail optometry. This is a bit of a complex subject, but just know this, for now:
Using glasses prescribed for clear distance vision while looking at up-close objects, is a likely cause for lens-induced myopia.
If your child wears glasses that he / she doesn’t need to see clearly up-close, then those glasses should never be worn up-close.
Bonus tip: The closer your child’s eye is to a screen or page, the higher the focusing muscle strain. Increase the distance, decrease the strain. Anything closer than 60cm should be strongly discouraged at all times.
More child eyesight health topics at http://endmyopia.org/children-myopia/
Is your child spending most of his time with revision now? Tell us what are some of the ways you help your child rest and relax his eyes!