Good eye practices you and your entire family must follow
On the Asian continent, myopia appears to be spreading like wildfire. So here are some good eye practices you should encourage your entire family to follow.
We ask Dr Koh Liang Hwee, President of Singapore Optometric Association & Practising Optometrist in Pearl’s Optical Co Pte Ltd to answer some questions we have about our eye sight.
1. What are some good practices for eye care?
It is important to develop good eye care practices through positive daily habits. Always sit upright comfortably and take frequent breaks in between activities like reading, watching television and playing computer games. It is important to allow one’s eyes to rest by looking at distant objects.
During near-work activities, people are strongly encouraged to keep ‘safe’ distances between the eyes and objects. Approximately three metres for television, 30cm for reading materials and 50 cm for computer monitors.
Always ensure that there is enough light in the room for reading and writing, as well as when using the computer. However, avoid excessive light to prevent glare. Adjust the brightness of computers and screens to reduce glare and avoid having sources of light that can cause unwanted reflections.
Spending more time outdoor has been shown to help preventing myopia. Try to spend more time each day outdoor.
The child eyes tend to absorb more UV light than an adult eye. It is always a good practice to wear sunglasses or lenses that block UV light when the child is outdoors under strong sunlight.
Children with myopia (especially with parental history of myopia) should wear eye glasses with appropriate lenses. There are lenses available that can slow down the progression of myopia.
If there is a parental history of myopia, it is a good practice to visit the optometrist at least once a year, better every 6 months. Early detection of any refractive error (myopia, astigmatism and hyperopia) can help to prevent amblyopia and help the child to see clearly during their growing up years. Any early eyes pathology can also be detected and referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment. The optometrist may prescribe special lenses that were proven scientifically to slow the progression of myopia. They should also be taught how to properly wear and maintain their eyeglasses.
2. Do contact lens have negative repercussions on the eye in the long-term?
Contact lenses are actually a very safe form of vision correction provided the wearers adhered to the cleaning regimen and the optometrist’s instructions. There are contact lenses which are gas permeable which do not have long term negative repercussions on the eyes.
There are always safe and recommended ways of wearing both spectacles and contact lens. Improper care and extended usage of contact lens may result in negative repercussions on the eye.
3. If a parent has a family history with severe shortsightedness and astigmatism but the other half’s family has perfect eyesight, what are the chances that the children will be diagnosed with shortsightedness and/or astigmatism?
Both severe shortsightedness and astigmatism have hereditary tendency. It can be a result of many different attributes such as pressure from the eyelids on the cornea, or an increased use of the eyes for near-work activities. If both parents suffer from myopia and astigmatism, the child could be at a higher risk of suffering the same issues.
Parents have to be mindful of whether their child is suffering from myopia and arrange for regular checks. Early detection and the use of MyoVision can help slow the progression of childhood myopia.
4. What is the recommended treatment to eye twitching (especially excessive blinking)?
Excessive blinking in a young child could be due to trichasis (in growing eye lashes), dry eyes or psychological (stress!) If the child „“squints“ (make the eyes smaller) to see things, he/she may suffer from refractive errors (myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia)
It will be good to bring the child to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a thorough check up.
While the cause of minor eyelid twitching is unknown, a slight spasm of the lower eyelid or even both eyelids is common and generally of no concern. Minor eyelid twitches require no treatment as they usually resolve naturally.
Some solutions such as reducing stress, using warm soaks, or correction of any refractive error may help. However, it is advisable to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a full eye screening before undergoing any treatments.
5. Are eye exercising devices really effective?
There is no harm in the eye exercises, however there is no evidence to show that eye exercises can reduce myopia. If the exercises can help the eye to relax, it may reduce eye strain.
6. What are the risk factors to consider for an operation on droopy eyelids for a 15-month-old?
As in all surgeries, droopy eyelids surgery carries risk of infection. In some cases, it may result in impaired lid functions. (e.g. cannot close the eye completely). If the droopy lid covers the pupil, that eye may develop amblyopia (lazy). If left untreated, the child may lose vision permanently. It is advisable to see the ophthalmologist soon and surgery may be warranted to prevent/cure amblyopia.
7. What will happen if a person has cataract but refuses to go for surgery? Is there an alternative besides surgery?
The person with cataract will slowly lose his or her sight as the cataract matures. In early cataract, changing the prescription of your spectacles helps to improve vision. There is no alternative treatment than surgery. Fortunately it is a very safe procedure and vision can be restored after the surgery.
If the cataract becomes hypermature, the surgery becomes more complicated.
Cataract affects a person in two ways – blurred vision and lens tinting.
Clumped up protein clouds the lens and reduces the light that reaches the retina. When a cataract is small, the cloudiness that affects only a small part of the lens may go unnoticed. Cataracts tend to "grow" slowly thus worsening the vision gradually. Eventually, the severe clouding may cause blurred vision due to a larger cloudy area in the lens and cataract.
The other situation is when the clear lens slowly changes to a yellowish/brownish colour, it adds a brownish tint to vision. Although the initial tinting may be small and may not cause vision problems, increased tinting may make it more difficult to read and perform routine activities.