In Trouble in Murktown, our heroes reminded us to take breaks from our bottle-bottle screens. But is there something else that we can do to take care of our eyes?

Checking on those murky eyes

The first book, Trouble in Murktown, brought us readers on an eye-opening adventure through Murktown. Zed and Zee used their Clear Vision power to lift the fog from Murktown and inspired its residents to take breaks from their Bottle-Bottle screens.

Taking breaks from our Bottle-Bottle screens are a good way to help give our eyes a break, but what happens when our eyes still continue being murky (blurry)? Well, getting your eyes checked is your best bet!

An eye check is one of the best ways to prevent myopia from progressing. During an eye check, an optometrist will arrange some tests to be done on your eyes. These tests include vision acuity tests, colour vision tests, and many more. These tests help your optometrist determine the likelihood of contracting myopia, or on the progress of your myopia.

Why eye checks are important

Attending an annual eye check has a profound impact on your eye health and overall well-being. Just like how we tend to visit the dentist once (and maybe even twice) a year, we should make it point to visit the optometrist yearly.

Bringing our children to visit an optometrist can help examine if their eyes are ready for school. Most of our children’s learning and extra-curricular activities require good eyesight. From reading the white board to participating in activities like swimming and dancing, having good eyesight is always a plus. If any eye health ailments are found, an optometrist can help treat these issues immediately before it progresses further.

If your child is affected with myopia, visiting an optometrist yearly also helps to monitor its development. Children who are afflicted with myopia at a young age tend to experience a rapid decline in their eye health as they get older. If this goes unchecked for extended periods of time, your child may grow to become more susceptible to high myopia. Therefore, attending regular and timely eye checks is important to determine your child’s progression of myopia and even other eye health maladies. If you would like to attend an eye check, you can book an appointment here!

What about the citizens of Murktown?

Now, imagine if the citizens of Murktown each received an eye check – how would they fare? Will they have perfect 20-20 vision, or will they be affected with myopia? Whatever it is, as long as they continue practicing the Clear Vision Recipe, their eyes will definitely be in good stead! The same goes for you and your children – it’s important to practice all the ingredients in the Clear Vision Recipe to safeguard your eyes from myopia.

If you would like to purchase Trouble in Murktown, or any of the other 4 books in The Plano Adventures book series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified gaming addiction as a mental health condition. Here’s why The Never Ending game is more relevant than ever now.

When the games stop being fun

The third book of The Plano Adventures series, The Never-Ending Game, touches on the subject of gaming addiction. In The Never Ending Game, our beloved protagonists – Professor Plano, Zed, and Zee – get sucked into the world of games! Poor Zed can’t keep his eyes off his game because of how fun it is. 

For us parents, this situation may hit a little too close to home. We’ve probably seen our little ones clutching on to their phones for hours on end trying to move on to the next level of their game. They may tell themselves “just one more level”, but we know that it never really stops, does it?

While games are fun and are a good way to relieve us of our stress from school or work, too much gaming can be disruptive. Spending too much time on games can disturb our daily activities like family time, work, and spending time outdoors. It also affects our sleep, physical activity, and diet.

The WHO classified ‘gaming disorder’ as a mental health disease in 2018. The disorder has been described to exhibit the following symptoms:

  • A lack of control over gaming.
  • Prioritizing gaming over other things in life.
  • Continuous gaming behaviour in spite of the negative effects. Some negative effects include significant damage to personal, social, familial relationships, or to other important areas of functioning.

This gaming behaviour is normally seen over a duration of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be given. However, the required duration may decrease if the symptoms exhibited are severe.

What can you do about it?

If you notice any of your loved ones exhibiting the above symptoms, you may want to consult your nearest healthcare professional. Gaming disorder can negatively impact many different aspects of our lives – from relationships to our physical and mental health. 

For parents, if your child constantly spends his/her time on their devices playing games, it’s important to create an honest conversation about excessive screen time. Let your child know of the importance of having the power to control the time they spend playing their games. 

If you are interested in purchasing The Never-Ending Game, or any of the other 4 books in The Plano Adventures book series from Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

Ren-Ray mentioned something about blue light in The Ray Keepers, but what exactly is blue light?

Feeling blue?

“My dear cave dragons, Lord Myopic has made you all foggy with Blue Light on your Bottle-Bottle screens”. This was what Ren-Ray told the dragons when she found them using their devices in their cave throughout the day. But what was Ren-Ray talking about? What exactly is blue light and what was it doing in the dragons’ phones?

Blue light is emitted from both the sun and our devices today. However, the blue light emitted from your devices, such as your phones and tablets, is man-made. This makes it different from natural light. When you use your phones and your tablets too close to your face, the concern about the effects of blue light on one’s eye health is concerning. When blue light enters the eye, it scatters and increases the effort needed by the eyes to maintain focus. Too much of it can damage the retina and lead to serious vision problems that may emerge later on in life.

Man-made blue light can result in symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, and even headaches. These symptoms may be telling of Digital Eye Strain (DES) which is a condition that stems from extended periods of time starting at a device screen. However, it must be noted that further research is required to understand the relationship between blue light and DES.

Fighting the blues

The best way to combat the negative effects of blue light and excessive device use is to go outdoors! Remember how happy the dragons were when they spread their wings and flew freely in the sky? We may not be able to fly, but we sure can run and have fun under our bright golden sun.

Going outdoors and looking far helps to protect your eyes from the onset of myopia and reduce eye strain. Articles by the BBC and reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have shown that spending time outdoors helps to keep myopia at bay. The WHO has also published screen time recommendations for your child.

The outdoors are a huge part of our everyday health and life, so let’s embrace the outdoors today and keep myopia at bay.

If you would like to purchase The Ray Keepers, or any of the other 4 books in The Plano Adventures book series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

We sat down with the Co-Author of The Plano Adventures series, Dr. Mo Dirani, to ask about his thoughts on device dependency and his inspiration behind Out of Order.

1. Out of Order touches on the subject of device dependency. Have you seen/experienced this first hand yourself?

Yes. Me, and almost everyone around us. Just like the residents of Machiville, you just need to head to your local mall to see kids and parents glued to their screens. Just this afternoon as I was walking around the mall across my office, I saw a family having lunch. But instead of eating, all of them were staring at their phones! The children were watching YouTube videos and their parents were on their phones too. If you walk around the streets too, you’ll find almost everybody scrolling through their phones, texting, swiping. I find it unsurprising that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently published some screen time guidelines for children and parents. Everyone should check it out. 

2. The robots in the book go on strike. What would you do if our devices shut down on us for a full day?

Ah, like a wi-fi shutdown? I’d definitely take advantage of it and take a well-needed rest! I’d probably meditate, maybe even head to the gym. I’d also spend the day reading some of my favourite books, and catching up with beloved friends and family.

3. Almost everyone has WhatsApp today. In Out of Order, we see the citizens of Machiville talking to each other using their phones, and not personally to each other! What are your thoughts on an increasingly digitally wired society?

In today’s digitally wired society, everyone spends the majority of their time on their phones. So, I’m concerned about the issue of loneliness and social isolation. It’s now become a global public health issue too. We should all put our phones down every now and then and talk to each other! Interact! 

4. Technology is here to stay. No doubt, it’s fun, informative and entertaining, but what is one thing that you miss about the time before the advent of digitalisation?

I am old enough to remember the world without internet and mobile phones (haha). The one thing I miss most is real human connection, chatting to friends and family in person rather than through a screen. It is also painful to see that kids spend little to no time outdoors playing. I remember that the first thing that we did as kids after school was to play outside until the sun set. Nowadays kids go home to use their phones until it’s bedtime!  

5. The Plano Adventures series is a children’s book that touches on the heavy subject of the pervading consequences of technology in society. What do you hope to convey to young readers through the entire book series?

Ultimately the power to change is your hands. Just like the last ingredient in the clear vision, MyPower, it’s up to you to be in control and do what’s right for your eyes. Tech is great, but use it for the tool it is, and do not allow it to make a tool out of you. 

If you enjoyed reading Out Of Order, vote for the book at the Popular Readers’ Choice Awards 2019 at this link! Voting closes on 27 October 2019, Sunday! Every vote counts.

Our phones have become appendages, and our eyes are constantly glued to the screen. And when we walk while using them, we sometimes don’t know where we’re going. Have we become the robots?

Thumbs scrolling, eyes staring

We’ve witnessed it, we’ve experienced it, we’re all guilty of it – constantly looking and using our devices anywhere and everywhere. From the buses to the bathrooms, we can’t deny that most of us spend every idle time available on our phones. Our phones are a portal to a world of entertainment and information. While our devices can be loads of fun, we ought to use them responsibly as well.

In the fifth book of The Plano Adventures, Out of Order,  the citizens of Machiville are completely engrossed with their devices. Nobody talks to each other in real life, and they have to be ferried back and forth by actual mechanical robots. But really, if you think about it, the real robots are the citizens themselves who can’t seem to function without their phones! One of the citizens of Machiville started over-reacting when his Bottle-Bottle screen wouldn’t work properly, and another felt completely desolate without it. Doesn’t this sound familiar? When our phones run out of battery or if we forget to bring it out with us, we break into a frenzy and sometimes, we even panic.

The device is not your life

Our devices have brought about a wave of convenience and efficiency in our daily lives. Need information? Click! Want some entertainment? Tap tap! Everything we need is just a thumb and a scroll away. But a line needs to be drawn before we become over-dependent on our devices. It’s necessary to take a break from our phones from time to time, look up, and talk to the people around us. Or even just take a walk in the park (without your phones of course).

Out of Order tackles the issue of reducing device dependency. It spreads an important message about managing our devices responsibly before we turn into robots ourselves. If you or anyone you know enjoyed Out of Order, please vote for us for the Popular Readers Choice Awards 2019 at https://ao.popular.com.sg/readerschoice/. The voting is only open to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents of Singapore.If you would like to purchase Out of Order, or any of the other 4 books in the series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

Our readers have probably heard a lot about the Clear Vision Recipe. But what is the science behind it and why is it so important to follow it?

Clear evidence for clear vision.

Scoops of good distance. Dashes of eye breaks. Heaps of time outdoors. MyPower. They’re fun to say, and easy to do, but have you ever wondered why these 4 steps are so important? In the Plano Adventures books, Zed and Zee power up on Clear Vision to defeat their nemesis, Lord Myopic. This kind of gives you a clue on what Clear Vision does – it helps to keep myopia (and other eye health issues) at bay, but how exactly?

Scoops of good distance.

In the recipe, it reminds the reader to hold their books and devices at least 30cm away from their eyes. As reported in the plano reports, unnecessary near work activity can contribute to myopia. Spending prolonged periods of time on near tasks like reading and writing increases the axial length of the eyes. The increase in the eye’s axial length allows your eyes to focus on near objects at the expense of further objects thereby contributing to near-sightedness (myopia).

Therefore, it is important that your child doesn’t place his/her devices or books too close to his/her eyes. That way, your child’s eyes won’t be under so much stress, and he/she can prevent myopia from progressing.

Dashes of eye breaks.

When your child doesn’t take eye breaks his/her eyes get tired. If your child uses his/her device for too long without eye breaks in between, he/she might develop Digital Eye Strain (DES). Our plano reports reported that exposure to blue light from smart device screens may cause DES-related symptoms such as dry eyes and eye fatigue. Therefore, taking eye breaks is important to prevent irritated eyes and to relieve your eyes of strain and stress. The 20-20-20 rule also applies here – for every 20 minutes of device use, look away at an object placed 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Heaps of time outdoors.

Who doesn’t love time outdoors? It’s refreshing, fun, and you feel free. Research has shown that when children spend at least 2 hours outdoors in the sun, the risk of contracting myopia is reduced to 20%. The sun is your best bet to keep myopia at bay so it’s important that your child spends heaps of time outdoors.

The power is in your hands.

Last, but definitely not least, is MyPower. It’s up to you and your child to follow all these tips to keep their eyes healthy and safe from myopia. Every one of us has the power to change our device habits, your children included! So let’s get to it and safeguard our eyes from myopia.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Clear Vision Recipe, check out The Plano Adventures! The Plano Adventures is an illustrated early chapter book series loaded with science-based facts meant for children. The books bring your child on a wondrous journey through Professor Plano’s world and teach your child about the importance of developing good eye care habits, cyberbullying, gaming addiction, and more!. You can buy the whole set of 5 books in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

Digital books fit this digital age. While convenient, digital books can’t beat the smell of a fresh new book.

Fresh off the shelves.

Remember the last time you got a physical copy of a brand new book? The crisp untouched pages, that distinctive paper smell, the clean, unstained covers. Now where’s all that when you download a book on your Kindle? Now, we’re not anti-ebooks – they are convenient and lightweight! And, you can store tons of e-books in one device, so you don’t have to carry around 3 different paperback books at once. However, the benefits of reading an actual physical copy of a book can go a long way, especially for your child.

Let’s bring paper back.

It’s been revealed by researchers that reading from a paperback book with your child provides a better reading experience. When parents read to their children using a digital device, toddlers are more distracted by the light emitted from the device, or notifications that appear. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that children interact more with the story when parents read from a physical book.

In contrast, there was less discussion of the story when e-books were read. Majority of the conversation was governed by questions about the device, and parents had to constantly remind their children not to press any buttons or touch the screen. This detracted from the story itself and made the reading experience less effective than reading from a physical book.

The study also found that these interactions between the parent, the child, and the story are all integral to your child’s literacy skills. It helps them with early text recognition and encourages memory and learning of key phrases and stories.

What’s more, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), we should limit our children’s screen time. Specifically for children between 1 to 2 years of age, they shouldn’t have any screen time at all. It’s recommended that parents read books to them instead.

If you’re looking for a brand new book series to read to your little one, consider reading The Plano Adventures! The Plano Adventures is an illustrated early chapter book series loaded with science-based facts meant for children. The books bring your child on a wondrous journey through Professor Plano’s world and teach your child about the importance of developing good eye care habits, cyberbullying, gaming addiction, and more! You can buy the whole set of 5 books in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository.

When your eyes get murky (blurry), it can mean trouble for your eye health.

What’s that in front of me?

In the first book of The Plano Adventures series, Trouble in Murktown, we meet our important and well-loved heroes – Professor Plano, Zed, and Zee. They receive word that Lord Myopic has covered Murktown in a great fog caused by Lord Myopic. It’s up to our heroes to save the citizens of that town from being covered in fog forever.

Can you imagine living in a foggy daze for all your life? How would life be like being unable to see things clearly? Well, for people living with myopia, that’s how they experience life without spectacles or contact lenses. It’s therefore important to practice good eyecare habits to prevent any eye health risks from progressing or worsening.

Lift the fog from your eyes

In Trouble in Murktown, Zed and Zee are introduced as twin brothers, but the main difference is that Zed has perfect vision while Zee does not. Zee wears glasses, and loves spending hours on his bottle-bottle screen playing games. Does Zee remind you of anyone?

For many of us today, we spend hours and hours using our devices. While our devices are indeed helpful for work or for entertainment, it’s essential that we use them responsibly. Excessive near work activity like using our phones for prolonged periods of time can speed up the progression of myopia and other eye health risks.

When Professor Plano, Zed, and Zee finally arrive in Murktown, they craft a genius plan to thwart Lord Myopic using the Clear Vision Recipe. As the Clear Vision Recipe reminds us, taking dashes of eye breaks and spending heaps of time outdoors can help manage our eye health. This indeed did help the citizens of Murktown and the fog was lifted from their eyes!

While our devices are helpful and great, it’s important to remember to take care of our eyes while we’re using them too. We only have one pair of eyes so let’s not take them for granted.

If you would like to purchase Trouble in Murktown, or any of the other 4 books in the series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

Spend time outdoors, and not just because The Ray Keepers told you so!

Look how the sun shines for you.

The sun and the outdoors, the breeze through your hair and the dirt on your shoes. Going outdoors always screams of summer fun and youth. For your child, going out of the house for a fun day at the park or the playground spells the beginning of a new adventure. But what happens when they realise they can find adventure indoors too? What happens when adventure can be found in the form of a video game just a tap of a finger away?

In the second book of The Plano Adventures series, the dragons that typically fly outdoors are now cooped up in a little cave staring at their Bottle-Bottle screens. The horror! The pull of their little screens were so strong that they forgot all about the fun in the sun. Doesn’t this sound like a familiar scene?

Don’t shy away from the sun.

For most of our children living in today’s digital age, the allure of their palm-sized video games can be enticing. While our digital devices are a great escape from the stresses of life, too much time spent on them can be harmful to our health, especially for our eyes. Prolonged periods of time spent on our devices can lead to Digital Eye Strain (DES). At worst, extended periods of near-work activity like using your phone, can potentially lead to myopia.

Your child’s digital devices are necessary in this day and age, however, it’s important to monitor their device use too. Bringing them outdoors is just another important way to protect their eye health. In fact, spending at least 2 hours outdoors every day can protect your child’s eyes, and even prevent myopia from progressing.

Remember, “bottle-bottle screens are great for work and play, but every dragon needs a good balance.” The same thing applies to every child too. So put on a comfortable pair of running shoes on your child’s feet, grab a cap and a water bottle, and get outdoors to soak up some of that vitamin D.

If you would like to purchase The Ray Keepers, or any of the other 4 books in the series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository.  

Games are fun and all, but what happens when they start to take over your child’s life?

Let the games begin.

Your child’s got him/herself a new game, and that’s great! It’s a new form of entertainment for him/her and it’ll help keep him/her occupied during long car rides. However, because of how fun the game is, it’s easy for your child to get sucked into it and potentially develop an addiction to his/her new game.

In the third instalment of The Plano Adventures, Zed gets addicted to a new game that has been released. In an interesting turn of events, he ends up getting sucked into the game, literally. While your child doesn’t have to worry about disappearing into a virtual game in real life, he/she can still lose themselves while playing a game, in a different sense. A latent effect of gaming addiction is screen addiction and it’s absolutely critical to put a cap on your child’s screen time to prevent any damages to their eye health. Parental control apps can help to manage your child’s screen time to remind them to take regular eye breaks from their devices.

Managing gaming addiction.

Playing games are a great way to relieve stress, and for your children, games serve as a world away from their worries at school. Some games even teach them creative and strategical thinking! Not all games are bad, and there’s also nothing bad about playing games. But it’s important to remind your child to play these games in moderation. Even if your child is highly addicted to his/her game, don’t stop them abruptly as this can make them go cold turkey and develop adverse withdrawal symptoms. Rather, negotiate the amount of time they’d be allocated to play games and stick to that schedule.

When your child does take a break between gaming, take him/her out for a walk outdoors to enjoy the sun. It’s been widely researched that spending at least 2 hours a day outdoors helps to protect your child’s eyes. It’s also a great opportunity to play outdoors as a family and spend time with your child.

In the book, after Zed comes to his senses about his gaming addiction, he exercises My Power to fight against his desire to play the game. The Plano Adventures explores the cruciality of healthy device use and how we, as individuals, have the power to develop good device habits on our own.

If you would like to purchase The Never-Ending Game, or any of the other 4 books in the series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository