Is the pressure of good grades hurting your child’s eyesight?
A Singapore study of Myopia risk factors finds that school work and intelligence affects children. Read on for the details...
Good grades are very important to you as a parent, and without realising it, that pressure can affect your child’s health. The problem is a compounding one and we are likely to be unaware of all the connected aspects.
To get good grades, your child needs to study a lot. This creates a lot of eye strain. On the other hand, the free time your child gets away from school work also involves using screens and games, rather than playing outdoors. The effects that this lifestyle has on long term vision health aren’t noticeable until it is already too late to take preventative measures.
A 2007 study in the Singapore Cohort study Of the Risk factors for Myopia (SCORM) found that school grades, a possible indicator of either cumulative engagement in near work activity or intelligence, were positively associated with myopia in Singapore children.
What we need to worry about is the long term outlook. Take a look at your child. Does he/she squint while focusing on objects from a distance, or while looking up close? Does the young one already wear glasses or contact lenses at pre-teen age?
If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, you might want to consider the risk factors of myopia in your children.
How myopia affects children
The long term risk of retinal detachment (the leading cause of blindness) increases fourfold for mild myopia. Most children who begin to wear glasses show an increase in
prescriptions by 0.50 diopters per year. Once myopia reaches -5.00 diopters and higher, the risk of retinal detachment in adulthood increases by a factor of 10. This puts them at risk of a massive complication, caused primarily by myopia.
There tends to also be a negative effect on school grades once myopia reaches past three diopters. Sports participation decreases, and the child tends to have less friends and social circles than non-myopes.
Myopia is truly a far reaching problem for your child’s health and happiness. Just as eating healthy, brushing teeth and other habits that we instil in our children, eye health care needs to be on the list of preventative health measures.
Tips to ensure good eye health for kids
Here are a few of the most effective ways to keep your child’s eyes healthy:
1. Insist that there is natural daylight in your child’s reading environment
If that isn’t an option, buy full spectrum UV bulbs to provide natural light equivalent. Much like junk food is bad for the body, and poor air quality affects the lungs, poor quality light affects long term eyesight health.
2. Check and ensure adequate reading distance
Keep at least 50 cm from the eye to the screen. 70cm would be ideal, and should be created whenever possible. Arranging the desk, use monitor stands, and other aides to make sure your child maintains a healthy distance when doing near work.
3. Three hours is the absolute limit for close-up
Once your child has been studying or reading for three hours, getting at least 45 minutes to an hour of a break from all close-up activities is a must. This may take some experimenting and finding new activities. Consider the risks for the child’s eyes however, if this is neglected.
4. Never wear a full minus prescription for close-up.
If your child has less than a -2 diopter prescription, glasses won’t be necessary to see up-close. For higher degrees of myopia, it may be worthwhile to consider a reduction of 1 to 1.5 diopters for a specific close-up prescription. The only way to reduce the risk of progressive, lens-induced myopia is to never wear distance prescriptions for close-up use.
What helps a lot as well is to introduce your kids to hobbies and activities that don’t involve playing computer games or reading. Whether it’s soccer or biking or really anything that gets your child to use distance vision for a few hours, this makes a significant difference in reducing close-up eye strain.
For more about the development of myopia, see how myopia happens. Myopia in children can be prevented in almost every single case, and progressive myopia can be slowed and even stopped.
Are your children wearing glasses? Share with us what you do to help them take good care of their eyesight by leaving a comment below!