Tips to prevent myopia in children
Does your child strain to look at things? Learn about the causes of myopia in children, and what you can do to prevent it.
Childhood myopia is a form of short-sightedness that affects young children and it is extremely common in Singapore. In fact our Health Minister, Mr Gan Kim Yong reported that the prevalence of myopia in kids here is one of the highest in the world, during his speech at the 12th National Eye Care Week in 2011.
Myopia is a condition where the eyeball is longer than usual. When this happens, light rays from distant objects are focused in front of the retina, instead of on the retina, resulting in a blurry image.
Children with myopia have difficulties focusing on distant objects such as the number of an approaching bus or the whiteboard in the classroom. To compensate for this reduced visibility, they usually tilt their head or squint their eyes.
Studies show that childhood myopia is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children are more likely to have myopia if their parents are myopic. The prevalence of myopia in young children appears to be on the rise in Asia. This is mostly due to the eye taxing “nearwork” activity that kids engage in these days, such as reading, watching TV and playing computer/handheld games.
Learn how you can prevent myopia in children in the next page.
While there is no cure for myopia, having good eye care habits can help to prevent it or slow its progression in your child. Here are some good eye care habits that your child (and the rest of the family) can put to practice to enjoy healthy, clear vision:
1. Hold reading and writing materials at least 30cm away from your eyes.
2. It is best to sit upright when reading, rather than lying down or slouching.
3. Place your TV at least 2 metres away (approximately 3 steps away) from the couch for a comfortable viewing experience.
4. Computer screens should be 50cm away from the eyes. Do adjust the lighting of your monitor to minimise glare.
5. Encourage your child to take breaks to rest their eyes after every 30 to 40 minutes of reading and watching TV.
6. Get your child to look out the window at faraway objects (or something green!) to relax the eyes.
7. Encourage your child to spend more time outdoors to give their eyes a rest from reading and staring at screens. As reported by Channel NewsAsia on 19 November 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated that Singapore has one of the highest incidences of myopia in the world. Thus, he encouraged parents to take their kids outdoors during the school break to enjoy the parks, beaches and gardens to reduce the risk of myopia.
8. Avoid reading materials with small or faded prints – it requires more effort to focus on the words, resulting in eyestrain.
9. Make sure that you have good lighting when doing “nearwork” like reading, watching TV and playing computer/handheld games.
10. Do some simple eye exercises at least twice a day to rest your eyes. Move your eyes up and down, followed by right to left. Then move your eyes in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
Do you have more tips to share on preventing myopia in children? Do let us know by leaving a comment below!