We’re all about celebrating our children’s new milestones as they grow up, but myopia is definitely not one of them.
Childhood myopia is on the rise.
Globally, it’s been reported that myopia has been on the rise among school-going children. We wouldn’t want our children to spend majority of the childhood in a blur, would we?
Firstly, myopia, or more commonly known as nearsightedness, is a condition that occurs when the eye loses its shape. As such, light cannot focus properly on to the retina which causes blurry vision. One of the biggest risk factors that contribute to myopia is near work activity, such as screen time.
Both a boon and a bane, the screens have undoubtedly been a great help in educating and entertaining our children (especially when we were all in quarantine). On the other hand, prolonged screen time is one of the risk factors attributed to the progression of myopia which explains why myopia has been on the rise amongst our digitally-wired children.
In Singapore alone, the prevalence of myopia among seven to nine year-olds is reportedly one of the highest, globally. If left unchecked, childhood myopia could lead to high myopia as children get older. Once they reach adulthood, the likelihood of developing glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration increases for them as well. In the same article, Dr. Pang, an ophthalmologist at the Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre reported that she is witnessing glaucoma and cataracts advancing at an earlier age among her patients.
From phones to tablets, kids are using them all nowadays and it’s just become another part of growing up in the 21st Century. We can’t get rid of these devices entirely, but we can definitely help to manage our children’s relationship with these devices.
How can we help as parents?
Luckily for parents, we’ve got a 3-step regime to help you combat myopia and prevent it from progressing in your child.
Step 1: If you can’t beat the screens, then get into the screens.
How? The plano app is the first science-based application that helps limit your child’s screen time and prevents myopia from progressing. When using their phones or tablets, plano will remind your child to place their devices at a distance of at least 30cm away from their eyes to avoid extended periods of near work activity (which we all know now is one of the causes of myopia). Upon reaching the half-hour mark, plano will notify your child to take a break from his/her device. During this time, your child will be unable to use his/her device so it’ll be a great chance for them to take a well-deserved eye break.
Step 2: Find other forms of entertainment beyond the screens.
With countless games available for download within 30 seconds, our children are spoilt for choice – and we all know how entertaining those games can get. Not only will our children be drawn in to the amazing graphics that some of these games offer, the highly addictive nature of these games can rope them into spending hours upon hours on their devices. Sure, it’s a great way to distract our children and past the time, but let’s not forget all the outdoor fun they could be sacrificing.
Bringing kids outdoors to play for at least 2 hours each day has been reported to help reduce the incidence of myopia. It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect our children’s eyes. In fact, if your child follows the notifications and prompts in the plano app (to place their devices at least 30cm away from their eyes, and to take their regular half-hourly eye breaks), they get to earn points! These points can then be used in the plano Shop* to request for fun outdoor activities!
Step 3: Check in with your optometrist every year.
Last, but definitely not least, bring your child for a comprehensive eye check every year with a certified optometrist. The optometrist will conduct tests on your child’s eyes and provide you with a detailed report on the progression of your child’s visual health.
If your child does have myopia, your optometrist can advise your child and you on the necessary steps to take to help monitor their vision health and prevent the progression of myopia. With the plano app, you can also schedule a comprehensive eye check at your nearest optometrist today*! You can then use the app to keep track of your appointments and even your child’s myopia progression.
In just 3 steps, you can help tackle myopia and nip it in the bud before it goes out of control. Undoubtedly, we parents want our children to grow up healthy so let’s start by helping them take charge of their visual health today!
*only available to Singapore plano users.