As parents, you want your child to succeed and excel in everything that he does in life, but sometimes being ranked at the top of the list may not always be a good thing.
According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), children between the age of seven to nine years old in Singapore are the #1 in the world to have childhood myopia.
If you are worried about your child’s eyesight, there are many ways you can help prevent childhood myopia and teach your kid to adopt good eye care habits.
What is childhood myopia?
Myopia, or short-sightedness (also known as near-sightedness) is an eye disorder which causes you to have difficulty seeing distant objects (or they appear blurred), but you can clearly see objects that are near.
This is when the eyeball is too long or the cornea has too much curvature, so when light enters the eye it is not focused correctly, which causes blurred vision.
HPB reports that one in every two children in Singapore develops myopia or short-sightedness by the time they turn 12 years old.
Although the exact cause of childhood myopia is not clearly known, there are a few contributing factors such as:
- Genetics (if one or both parents have myopia)
- Excessive screentime exposure
- Excessive near work (such as reading, writing)
- Improper lighting
Signs and symptoms
If you suspect that your kid may have childhood myopia, here are some of the signs to watch out for:
- Eye strain
- Feeling fatigued (after playing sports or other activities)
- Blurred vision
- Eyes unable to refocus to see in the distance after doing a long period of near work
Ways to prevent childhood myopia
Although genetics can be partly the reason why there is a high development of myopia in Singapore, environmental factors are also a contributing factor.
You can help your kids to combat the development and progression of childhood myopia by teaching them good eye care habits, which include:
More outdoor play
Some studies have shown that exposure to sunlight is beneficial to eye growth and children who spend more time outdoors (playing, participating in sports activities, etc) have a lowered risk of childhood myopia.
It is recommended that you to encourage your kids to spend time outdoors to get plenty of sunshine, not only for their eye growth, but also for their physical health and development.
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) says that preschool children should get between 11 to 12 hours of sleep, whereas school-going children require between 10 to 11 hours of sleep, and adolescents should be sleeping for about nine hours.
Getting enough sleep every night helps to keep your child’s eyes healthy.
Nowadays, a lot of children are exposed to excessive screentime either by watching a lot of television, using handheld mobile devices, or playing games on a computer or laptop.
Try to limit your child’s usage of such devices and ensure that he is not seated too close to the screen, nor is there a glare from the reflection of other light sources.
What else can you do to help combat childhood myopia? Keep reading to find out!
If your child spends a significant amount of time using a handheld mobile device, or on the computer, or reading and writing, remind him to take eye breaks every 30 to 40 minutes.
He can stretch, focus on something in the distance, look out the window to rest his eyes, or go outdoors to do another activity for a while.
Essential nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Lutein, Zinc, and Vitamins C and E might help to lower the risk of certain vision problems, so getting a proper nutrition can help your child maintain good eye health.
BRAND’S® AlphaMynd Essence of Chicken with Lycium is fat-free, does not contain any preservatives and is specially formulated from an extract of fine quality chicken and premium grade Lycium (Gouqizi) to help improve eyesight and is suitable for children 2 to 12 years old.
Although inadequate lighting does not directly cause childhood myopia, if your kid is reading, studying or lighting under dim or poor lighting, it could cause a strain to his eyes.
Ensure that the area around the television or computer is well illuminated and encourage your little one to use adequate lighting when doing any near work, especially when reading or writing.
HPB recommends that you bring your little one to visit an optometrist or an optician at least once a year if he has myopia, or has been advised to do so by the School Health Service.
If your child wears spectacles, you should teach him how to keep the lenses clean and to always store them correctly.
Special eye drops
Researchers in Singapore have found that a low dosage of Atropine helped to slow down myopia progression in children by about 60% over a two year period.
This special eye drop does not cause any pain and the side effects are very minimal to nil.
HPB says that myopia commonly develops in children who are of school-going age and will continue to worsen until their early 20s, after which the condition will usually stabilise.
So it is recommended that parents encourage their children to adopt healthy eye care habits from an early age to ensure proper eye growth.
What steps do you take to ensure your child maintains good eyesight? Share your tips with other parents by leaving a comment below