Our eyes are exposed to blue light every day. Many of us know that it is emitted from our digital devices and LED lights, but did you know that it is also emitted by the sun?

In fact, sunlight is the biggest source of blue light and until recently (before the Covid-19 pandemic, that is), we have been getting most of our exposure to it when we go outdoors during daylight.

Blue light is everywhere, and our eyes are constantly exposed to it. As such, is it really harmful to us? The short answer to this question is – it can be good and bad for us!

The dark implications of blue light

1. Digital eye strain

Prolonged blue light exposure may cause digital eye strain. How exactly does this happen?

When blue light enters our eyes, it scatters and increases the effort needed by our eyes to maintain focus. This increased effort may contribute to eye fatigue and eventually eye strain.

2. A poor night’s sleep

As it turns out, your screens may be to blame for a poor night’s sleep and the ensuing grogginess you have to deal with the next day.

More specifically, the blue light emitted from the screens of digital devices has been shown to cause significant disruptions to sleep. Research has shown that this blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain that helps induce sleep. 

The effects of this disruption can be likened to jet-lag: your sleep cycle is disrupted, and you find it difficult to fall and stay asleep at your usual times, and you may find yourself waking up more frequently at night. 

Startlingly, even small amounts of sleep deprivation have comparable effects on brain function to those of alcohol intoxication: In fact, a 17 – 19 hour period of no sleep (which may be the same as waking up at 7am and going to sleep at 1am which many of us do regularly) is equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%!

A never-ending cycle

Worse yet, research suggests that the lack of quality sleep causes your blink rate to slow. This decreases tear production and increases tear evaporation – leading to dry eye and more eye strain!

3. Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration occurs when a small central portion of the retina, i.e. the macula, wears down. This in turn affects visual acuity, or the sharpness of the eye. Exposure to blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration. How?

Image via All About Vision

Our eyes are unable to prevent blue light from penetrating through the cornea and lens and into the retina. As such, excessive and prolonged blue light exposure can damage the light-sensitive retinal cells.

On the ‘bright’ side

Before you swear off sunlight and all other sources of blue light for good, it is important to note that blue light does have some benefits as well!

Exposure to blue light during daytime can improve energy and alertness, boosts your mood and your productivity. Beyond that, it helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm or body clock, which helps you stay awake during the day and go to sleep at night.

A higher exposure to blue light in the day causes your brain to secrete less melatonin during daylight. And as it gets progressively darker, closer to bedtime, melatonin production increases. This makes you sleepy and signals to you that it is time to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.

As with many things in life, blue light can be beneficial and detrimental to us. It is up to us to protect our eyes from the potential risks of prolonged and excessive blue light exposure. While it is important to recognise that more research has to be done in this space, it does not hurt to work on developing a well-balanced and healthy relationship with the screens that surround you on a daily basis!

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Like any of our first times, your child’s first pair of glasses can come with the addition of nerves and self-consciousness. Here’s how to prepare your child for their first ever pair of glasses.

There’s a first for everything.

“Your child needs glasses.”

Not the best news to hear from your child’s optometrist, but a necessary one to help your child see clearly. 

This could come as a huge shock to your little one who might be the first among his/her peers to don a pair of glasses. It’s a drastic lifestyle change that your child’s just going to have to incorporate into his/her daily routine for the rest of his/her life. Your little one’s head might be spinning with questions and confusion about their appearance, the consequences of this decision, perhaps even anxiety about having to explain to their friends about their new glasses. 

Take a deep breath, because here’s how you can help your child come to terms with his/her new everyday friend – glasses. 

Taking the plunge. 

Before you throw your child into the deep end and get him/her to start wearing glasses daily, be sure to talk and walk them through the entire process that led up to your child’s diagnosis.

1. Ask if they have any questions first

Your child’s definitely going to have a whole list of questions they’re ready to fire away. Gently ask them to voice any concerns they might have about their vision and their new need to wear glasses. After hearing their questions, patiently answer each of them slowly for your little one to understand. 

For instance, if your child asks, “are my eyes broken?” you could answer, “no sweetie, your eyes aren’t broken. But the optometrist said you have a condition called ‘myopia’. Now, it simply means you can only see things clearly if they’re near your eyes, but you can’t see things farther away. This can be easily fixed with a pair of glasses, so don’t worry, your eyes aren’t broken!” Explaining the situation rationally and calmly can help ease their worries about their eyes and help them accept the normalcy of the situation.  

2. Involve them in the process

Don’t just pick any ol’ pair of glasses for your child to wear, let them customise it and make it their own! Nowadays, optometry shops stock up glasses in all sorts of frames, shapes, and colours, especially for children. Let your child take first dibs on colours, designs, and patterns that attract him/her. Letting them choose their style of glasses makes the whole process of wearing glasses much more fun for them. 

3. Compliment their new look

Once your child has chosen a pair to call his/her own, compliment your little one’s new look. Complimenting your child helps to boost his/her confidence in wearing their new pair of glasses. It also helps them feel less self-conscious if they know that their number one supporters are on board with their new look. 

4. Teach them how to care for their spectacles and their eyes

Now that they’ve got a pair of spectacles in their hands, they need to know how to take care of them – a little like having a pet, just without the eating and playing part. Prepare all the essential cleaning tools for your child in a compact case and patiently teach your little one how to keep their glasses spick and span. This allows them to take the lead in treating their items with care and instils a sense of responsibility in them too. Give your child time to adapt to his/her new glasses and encourage them to stick to it too.

At the same time, remind your child to continuously practice good eye care habits every day. They may have just gotten a new pair of glasses to help them see clearly, however the journey to healthy vision doesn’t stop there! Remember to remind your child to take care of his/her eyes every day. If your child is reading a book or using his/her phone, be sure to remind him/her to place them at least 30cm away from the eyes. It’s also important for your little one to take an eye break every 30 minutes after reading a book or using his/her phone, so be sure to prompt them to do so to give their eyes a good break. 

5. Remind them that you’re always going to be there

Sometimes, new things and experiences can be frightening. It’s the same with your child’s very first pair of glasses. Let them know that you’ll always be there through their journey with glasses – for every optometrist appointment, for every glasses change, for anything really. Their glasses are going to be part of their everyday for a real long time, so let them know you’re there for anything throughout this journey. 

Should you want to get your child’s eyes checked at an optometrist, book an appointment at your nearest optometry clinic using plano Eyecheck*. plano Eyecheck has partnered with Nanyang Optical, W Optics, Videre Eyecare and Optic Point to bring eye exams closer to you at an affordable price. For a limited time only, all appointments made using the plano Eyecheck platform will receive a S$50 voucher to cover the cost of the eye check-up. Simply visit planoeyecheck.com and select your nearest optometry clinic using the on-site map to book an appointment.

*Only valid in Singapore

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The short answer: yes. While genes can increase the chances of developing myopia (or short-sightedness), it is still possible to develop the issue when your parents don’t have it. It is important to take measures to prevent myopia in your children, regardless of whether it runs in the family or not- here’s why.

The predicament.

As a mother of three young kids, I have lots to worry about. Eye health, however, never seemed so important as my partner and I both have perfect vision. All was well until a few weeks ago when we discovered my eldest son, Ben was diagnosed with an eye condition called myopia. He was prescribed a pair of spectacles which he will probably have to wear for the rest of his life.

First of all- what is myopia?

Myopia (or short-sightedness) is a condition of the eye that affects people’s ability to see distant objects. It is a very common vision issue and, according to plano’s report on myopia and screen time, affects 80-97% of young adults in major Asian cities (including Singapore). It most often develops as a result of spending too much time looking at near objects (e.g. a smartphone screen) which puts a lot of strain on your eyes and can cause them to elongate.

This elongation affects the eye’s ability to focus light rays onto the retina, and therefore translate visual information into an image in the brain.In order to understand how this works, it is useful to have a basic understanding of how the eye functions. There are three important structures in the eye that work together to ensure incoming light rays are focused onto the retina. These structures include the axial length (length of eye from front to back), the cornea and the crystalline lens. They are carefully coordinated to ensure that light rays are focused onto the retina.

When the eye is elongated (as a result of spending too much time looking at near objects), this careful balance in the eye is disrupted, causing light to focus onto an area in front of the retina, rather than on the retina itself. This causes distant objects to appear blurry.

Now with the explanation out of the way- here’s why my son developed myopia, despite us not having it.  

Is myopia passed on genetically?

It is true that myopia is more common in children who have parents with myopia, however, people can still develop this issue when it doesn’t run in the family. While genes can increase the likelihood of developing myopia, it ultimately comes down to an interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

Environmental factors include too much time spent indoors, looking at near objects (such as screens) and bad posture; these are what cause the eye to elongate. Studies show that regularly spending extended periods of time (4+ hours) on your screen can increase the risk of myopia 8-fold. As we become increasingly dependent on our smart devices, this carries with it a greater risk of developing myopia. I want to make sure this does not impact the health of my children and so have come up with three ways to go about preserving their eye health.

3 steps to prevent myopia

1. Limit smart device use

The World Health Organisation recommends that children under the age of four spend less than an hour on their screens in a day (30 minutes for >1 year-olds). While this is a good benchmark to aim for, I know that monitoring your child’s screen-use behavior around the clock can be tiresome and sometimes difficult when you have to go out/ to work. To help with this, I downloaded plano, a parental control app which runs in the background of their smart device and sends me alerts when they’ve been on them for too long. Its remote locking feature also helps to get them off their screens when I’m not there.

2. Go walking

While confiscating their devices can deter them from over-using, this may bring about resistance- often in the form of temper tantrums. If you’re ever in this position, simply suggest an alternative activity such as walking outside. Eye health experts recommend spending at least two hours a day outdoors in order to prevent the onset of myopia. This helps to give their eyes a break from the strain of focusing on near objects. Walking is great because it’s easy, gets them out of the house and gets their heart rate going.

3. Go for regular eye-checks

Detect myopia early and you can drastically reduce the risk of your child developing a more severe type of myopia or even vision loss. Optometrists recommend getting your children’s eyes checked at least once a year. plano’s eye check platform  keeps track of past eye-checks to ensure visits to the optometrist are regular.

Since discovering my son has myopia, I have become much more proactive in preventing it in my other kids and I hope that this advice will help you do the same. I know parenting can be hard, but rest assured you are not alone and there are many services available to help get your children’s eye health on track!

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Technology has made the pivot to working and learning from home much easier, but it’s important to be aware of the amount of time you’re dedicating to the screen.

A double-edged sword: Technology

The implementation of home-based working and learning amidst COVID-19 has been made easier thanks to technology. For us digital gurus, pivoting online isn’t a difficult feat. For our young ones? Easy-peasy. While most of our daily lives shift online, it’s important to take note of our daily device habits too. Granted, our work and learning processes have no choice but to migrate online. However, we need to bear in mind that the amount of time we’re going to be spending staring at a screen is going to skyrocket, and the consequences to our health are detrimental – starting with our eyes.

Too much screen time, too little time away.

As important as technology is in helping us connect with our co-workers (and our children to their classmates and teachers), it’s important we know when to take a break from technology too. Excessive screen time throughout the day can cause some very damaging consequences to our health. Here’s what they are and how to deal with them:

1. Dry eye disease

According to plano’s report on Excessive Device Use, using your devices for more than 8 hours a day can double the risk of dry eye disease. Some symptoms of dry eye disease are sandy, scratchy sensations in your eye and a sensitivity to light.

The solution? Consider getting some lubricating eye drops for your eyes. Or, just take a simple break from the screen! It doesn’t have to be too long, just 5 minutes every half an hour would be enough. The same goes for your child who may be learning from home. Remind your child to take a 5-minute eye breaks every 30 minutes to prevent dry, tired eyes.

2. Myopia

Increased screen time and excessive near work activity are risk factors associated with myopia. With the use of devices increasing tenfold as a result of work from home measures and online learning, our eyes will constantly be under the weight of strain and stress. Resultantly, this could lead to the progression of myopia, especially in our little ones whose vision hasn’t fully developed.

The solution? Remember to place your devices at least half a meter away from your eye to ensure a proper distance between the device and your eye. And just like the first one, remember to take adequate eye breaks from time to time! Set your phone aside and look outside the window for a couple of minutes, or you could simply talk to your child and vice versa.

3. Insomnia

For us adults, it’s easy to get caught up with work all the way till our bedtimes. For our kids, they could be using some downtime before bed to catch up with their friends online (because online is all we’ve got now). However, studies have shown that using one’s phone or other devices before bed can lead to insomnia. When you’re learning, communicating or working from home, it’s so easy to lose track of time and forget to switch off from our devices until the moment we hit the sack.

The solution? Set a time for your little one and yourself to switch off the devices and spend the time relaxing instead. Experts advise discontinuing your phone usage at least 30 minutes before bed. You could use this time to have a meaningful conversation with your child – ask your child about his/her favourite part of the day, his/her likes and dislikes about staying at home. Get to know them. After that, tuck your child and yourself into bed for some well-deserved rest.

Protecting our health no matter the time and season.

As stay home mandates are racking up all over the world, there’s bound to be a surge in screen time and device use. While continuing to practice good social hygiene, it’s also important we take note of our vision health amidst our shift to go digital. Moreover, our children’s eyes are just opening to what the world has to offer and we wouldn’t want to risk their vision health either, would we? It is now more pertinent than ever to practice good device habits and adapt them according to our own stay home arrangements. Ultimately, no matter what the time is and where it is, our health will always be a priority.

Please remember to take steps to continuously protect yourselves and your loved ones. Follow the necessary healthcare guidelines pertaining to your country.

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We’ve all experienced dry eye – it could be because of the cold, or because of a new set of contacts we just got, or it could be because of that screen you’ve been staring at in your palms all day.

That tingly sensation in your eye.

Did you know we blink approximately 12,000 times a day? That’s 4,200,000 times a year! But who’s counting, right?

The reason why it’s an instinctive reaction for your eye to blink every now and then is because of the body’s response to keep your eyes lubricated. When we use our phones and stare at our screens however, our rate of blinking decreases and sometimes we even forget to blink. We actually blink up to 66% less when we focus our eyes on the screen for prolonged periods of time. That’s what causes an eye condition called dry eye. Other symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • A stinging/scratchy sensation in your eyes

A digital necessity, but a pain in the eye.

We live in an era where digital devices are a necessity – almost as necessary as food, water, and oxygen. For our children, they’re growing up alongside some major technical advancements – Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, you name it and they probably heard of it way before you did. So it’s just as important for them to keep their eyes in check every time they pick up a new device in their hands. If you or your little one are constantly using smart devices, here are 3 surefire eye care tips to combat dry eye:

1. Artificial tears

Over-the-counter remedies like artificial tears can help lubricate your eyes after an intense day of staring at the screen. As a working adult myself, I’ve experienced the intense discomfort of having to sit through dry eye and using artificial tear drops have helped to provide a quick relief from that burning sensation in my eyes.

2. The natural remedy

Who doesn’t love an au naturel cure? Artificial tears are great for temporary relief, but you need to use them more frequently in order to completely get rid of the discomfort in your eyes. One of the best natural remedies to dry eye is a warm compress over your eyes. Simply pour some warm water over a cloth, wring the excess water out, and place said cloth over your eyes for 20 minutes. It’s a terrific way to relax your eyes and take a quick cat nap while you’re at it. You could even jazz it up and drop some essential oils on to the towel for a calming scent – are we feeling lavender today?

3. Eye breaks

The best eye care tip to combat dry eye though is well within your own power – and that’s to take frequent eye breaks. After 30 minutes of staring at the screen, you should take an eye break for 2 minutes, minimally. If you notice your child spending prolonged periods of time staring at the screen, use an app to take control of their screen time.

The plano app reminds your child to take a device break every 30 minutes he/she spends on the screen. For about a minute and a half, your child will be unable to use his/her phone and he/she has to take a break from the screens. The half-hourly break reminders serve to create a habit of device breaks. This way, your child will be able to learn the right device habits to not only minimise his/her screen time, but also safeguard his/her eyes from dry eye, eye strain, and even myopia.

The eye of the storm

We’re all caught in the eye of a digital storm that’s not going away any time soon. Our devices  are important mainstays in our daily lives, but it’s just as crucial that we manage our time spent on them and safeguard our vision health. For we control technology, and not the other way round.

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As the war against COVID-19 rages on, we may be bidding farewell to time outdoors and hello to more screen time – our children included. But that’s not to say we can’t limit our screen time and prevent myopia from progressing. 

Where are your child’s eyes going?

The fight against the recent global health pandemic, COVID-19, rages on. The chief of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has even deemed it as an ‘enemy against humanity‘. As a response, companies have implemented work-from-home programs, schools have closed, and people returning from overseas travel are given mandatory home quarantine notices.

For our children who are just as much affected by this as we are, their daily average screen time is only going to increase. Classes are beginning to migrate online if they haven’t already (e-learning anybody?), finding entertainment to unwind is literally at their fingertips, and communication with their classmates, friends, and teachers are all going to be done via social networking platforms. In fact, according to an analysis done by plano’s Time Machine, average screen time among youths, adults, and children increased by an hour. The world’s largest stay-home mandate implemented to date may have contributed to this increase in screen time as less people are going outdoors, especially our children.

Myopia: an ongoing battle against screens.

It’s an understandable transition, but it’s also important we help our children manage the amount of time they’re spending on the screen. Excessive and prolonged periods of screen time is associated with the progression of myopia. When our eyes are focused on the screens for more than even an hour without a break in between, your eyes are suffering under the weight of a lot of strain and stress.

Moreover, when our children use their devices, they tend to use it at a close distance as well. This causes the eyes to grow and lengthen which is a sign that the eye is losing its flexibility to focus properly unless the object of its focus is nearby. This is a process that causes nearsightedness (myopia) and explains why some children are unable to see far distances.

Therefore, on top of taking care of our child’s overall physical health, let’s not to forget his/her vision health too. We each want the best for our child, so it’s important we help to keep them healthy and strong in all aspects of their health.

Some eye-catching solutions

One of the best ways to mitigate myopia is to go outdoors, but with the current epidemic that we’re living in, it’s nearly impossible. Nearly. There are other ways to help mitigate myopia from progressing in your children without needing to step foot out of your humble abode:

1. Play a good game of eye spy

If your little one is bored at home and wants some quick fun, you could initiate a good ol’ fashioned game of ‘eye spy’. Simply go to the window and look out for a minute or so with our child. Then, pick an object you want you want your child to find, but don’t tell him/her what it is! Simply describe the object starting with the phrase, “I spy with my little eye something _____”. Fill in the blank with a description of that object and wait to see if your little one guesses it correctly. 

Looking far and wide into the distance is a good practice for your little one to rest his/her eyes after a long day of staring at the screen, and you can do so just behind your window.

2. Get creative with obstacle courses

Do you have a backyard? If you do, you can consider setting up a simple obstacle course outdoors right in your backyard! You don’t have to go to the park, or to a play arena, you just need to get creative with some household items and with the space you have around you in your backyard, oh and some good weather. You could set up some chairs outside and have your little one crawl underneath them, or you could lay an old mattress down on the grass and have your child roll over it before proceeding on to the next station. The possibilities are endless, so get creative and have some fun in the sun just outside your house. After all, the sun is a great bet against myopia.

And even if you don’t have a backyard, if your living area allows it, you could easily create one for your little one indoors as well! It’ll be a great way to entertain them away from the screens and prevent myopia from progressing. Check out this cool Instagram parent setting up an indoor obstacle course for his baby:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B95FCjghR6-/

Seeing things in a new light

We’re living in some tumultuous times right now. While we continue to adapt to the current conditions as best we can, let’s not forget to take note of our total screen time as well. We may not be able to go outdoors as easily as we once could, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We are adaptable, flexible, and quick-thinking, so let’s get creative and continue to protect our children from excessive screen time and safeguard their overall health.

In support of:

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Kids are bored? Hand them the Android phone for some screen time. What’s the harm, right? Wrong. The harm is the unseen damage done to their eyes.

Stop that Netflix/YouTube binge

The internet is filled with videos and shows that aim to keep us entertained for hours. With Netflix for children, unlimited access to videos on YouTube, and even Disney+, our children are spoiled for choice. Accessibility and convenience are gifts of the internet age; our kids can access the most popular video content at the mere swipe of a finger and watch them for hours. Gone are the days when we’d have to wait for our favourite movies to be available on DVD for rent, or when satellite cable TV was but a distant dream.

With our children connecting to the internet as quickly as the speed of light, screen time has only increased tenfold. Health experts have reported that children between the ages of 8 to 18 are spending at least 7 hours a day staring at their screens and their eyes are paying the price of it.

The price of a screen

It may have cost you a hole in your wallet, but the screens are costing you your child’s health. A 2 year-old girl was diagnosed with severe myopia after spending long periods of time using her smartphone. While this may be more of an exception than the norm, the number of children diagnosed with myopia as a result of prolonged screen time is increasing exponentially. And how exactly does screen time harm their eyes?

1. Digital Eye Strain (DES)

DES is a vision problem that occurs when you spend too much time staring at the screen. When your child stares at the screen for too long, the rate of blinking decreases. Blinking provides moisture to the eyes and the decreased rate of blinking leaves your child’s eyes feeling tired and dry. Dry eyes can cause irritation and redness in the eye and impair your child’s focus and productivity.

2. Lengthening of the eye

When your children use their phones, they tend to use it at a close distance as well. This causes the eyes to grow and lengthen which is a sign that the eye is losing its flexibility to focus properly unless the object of its focus is nearby. This is a process that causes nearsightedness (myopia) and explains why some children are unable to see far distances.

Beyond vision health, excessive screen time has been proven to lead to other health conditions such as obesity, insomnia, and even anxiety and depression.

Breaking out of the screens

Limiting our children’s screen time is a pertinent matter that we parents have to get our heads around before the worst happens. Throwing out their devices may sound like the easiest solution, but it’s not the most realistic one. Smartphones and their screens are here to stay in the 21st Century and beyond. So, it’s important we teach our children the right habits to control their screen time and protect their health while they’re at it.

1. Get into their screens

To get your child out of the screens, sometimes you need to get into the screens. There is an assortment of screen time apps out there that you can download to minimise your child’s screen time, especially if he/she is on a video-watching spree. The plano App is an app that helps to control screen time effectively.

The app runs in the background of your child’s phone so he/she can watch videos and play games on his/her phone comfortably. But every 30 minutes, the app will prompt your child to take an eye break for at least 1 minute. If your child follows these eye break reminders diligently, he/she will be rewarded with points that can be used in our plano Shop for some fun device-free activities!

As a parent, you can also use the app to schedule no-device times on your child’s phone. For instance, if you set a no-device schedule between 12 noon to 2pm, your child won’t be able to use his/her phone during that particular duration. By limiting screen time for your kids, you’re also helping to protect them from myopia and other health issues.

2. Plan an outdoor activity

One of the best ways to limit your child’s screen time is to bring him/her outdoors! Spending at least 2 hours a day outdoors can help to distract your child from using the phone all the time, and it can even prevent myopia from progressing in your child. Studies have shown that your child is less likely to contract myopia if he/she spends at least 2 hours a day outdoors.

You can bring your child to the park, to the beach, or just for a stroll around the neighbourhood – it’s a much better way for your child to relax instead of spending all day glued to a tiny palm-sized screen. If your child likes to do something more exciting than just a stroll, the plano Shop offers a variety of device-free, outdoor activities like football lessons, fun passes to outdoor play parks, and many more! Your child can request for these fun activities with points he/she has earned from the plano Shop.

Fixing what can be fixed, protecting what can’t.

A screen is easily replaceable. If it’s broken, we simply have to head down to our nearest Telco or phone shop to get it fixed to be as good as new. But your child’s eyes aren’t something we can fix so easily. Sure, there are optometrists and medicines available, but once the damage has been done, it is rarely reversible and your child will have to live with it for the rest of his/her life. This is why it’s more critical than ever that we digital parents help protect our children from the consequences of excessive screen time before it’s too late. 

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It is one of the most addictive items in our homes and most of us, including our vulnerable little ones are hooked. 

In fact, former Google design ethicist, Tristan Harris had famously critiqued the exploitative design of smartphones which intentionally steal our attention against our will. Yet, we constantly underestimate how damaging excessive screen time can be, especially to our children – but at what cost?

A world of hurt

If you’ve ever heard your little one complain about headaches or their eyes feeling ‘itchy’, he/she may be a victim of digital eye strain, one of the many consequences of too much time behind the screen. 

Eye strain is particularly tough on our children’s still developing eyes and on top of headaches and eye irritation, it may cause symptoms of pain, dryness, burning, redness, sensitivity to light and a loss of the eye’s ability to focus correctly resulting in blurred vision.

Yes, those bright, flickering screens often held for far too long and too close to our children’s delicate eyes put them through a world of hurt. How should we cultivate healthy, responsible screen habits in them to prevent these avoidable symptoms from occurring?

The ‘smart’ way of getting to the root of the problem

These days, parents worldwide turn to technology itself, in the form of parental control apps to serve as an extra set of eyes that watches over their little ones.

However, getting to the root of the problem isn’t just about controlling your child; it’s about intrinsically motivating him/her to practice healthy screen habits and have a responsible relationship with technology! 

That’s exactly what the eye health application plano, recognises. Unlike the run-of-the-mill parental control apps, plano combines a scientific approach with a points-based rewards system that reinforces responsible device behaviour from an early age.

A parenting app that combines science and rewards

Supported by the Singapore government and with affiliations to Singapore National Eye Centre and Singapore Eye Research Institute, plano has become an indispensable parenting tool to more than 250,000 households the world over. 

We break down some of its app functions and scientific features specifically designed to protect against the symptoms of eye strain and other vision problems your child is at risk of.

1. Taking eye breaks

If left unsupervised, many of our children could go hours hunched over their screens, scrolling through their endless feeds without taking a break. And we wonder why they constantly complain of shoulder and back pains, headaches and dry eyes!

In fact, research shows that taking regular eye breaks every 30 to 40 minutes by looking at a distance helps the eyes to refocus and even reduces the risk of developing myopia.

1. Prompt shown on the 30th minute.
2. Prompt shown on the 35th minute.

plano’s eye break prompts are triggered every 30 minutes. After 40 minutes have passed, the final prompt will be shown. Children who adhere to these prompts will be rewarded with plano points accordingly.

2. Adequate face-to-screen distance:

plano’s face-to-screen distance tracker ensures that your child follows the recommendation that smart devices are held at least 30cm from the face:

The ‘Too near’ prompt* is triggered when your child’s face to screen distance is less than 30cm. The ‘Way too close!’ prompt is triggered when your child’s face to screen distance is less than 20cm. 

3. Encouraging an active lifestyle

Known as the ‘indoor generation,’ our children these days have adopted a sedentary lifestyle i.e. desk-bound at school, couch-bound at home glued to their smartphones, not going out to play as much as they should be. Unsurprisingly, a mounting body of research has shown that the outdoors is one of the best ways to preserve your child’s eye health. 

1. Kids earn points with safe device habits and browse the Shop for rewards
2. Using their points, they ‘request’ for a reward in their Wishlist
3. Parents can unlock exclusive discounts on Wishlisted items

Plano partners with brands that recognise the importance of an active lifestyle spending device-free time outdoors. plano’s in-app e-commerce platform, plano Shop* features the activities and products offered by these brands which parents can unlock (using the plano points their children have earned following healthy device behaviour) at a heavily discounted price (up to 80%).

Some of these brands include Nestopia by Shangri La, Nerf Action Xperience and Forest Adventure. *Currently only available in Singapore

It’s about time we stop blaming the ‘machine’ and start training the ‘operator.’

Parenting is a confusing, crazy circus act. In this digital age, let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves how we best teach our little ones the skills that really matter – how to be responsible with their screens. It is only then we can ensure they will go on to lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives!

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What’s the first thing you see when you look at someone? Likely, their eyes! You might notice the colour of the person’s eyes first, or you might notice his/her eyelashes. But did you know you can find out a lot about someone’s health by looking at his/her eyes?

As the saying goes, the eyes are a window to the soul. And it could not be truer. Superficially, you can already tell a lot about the person’s health by looking at the whites of their eyes – also known as the sclera. If the sclera appears to have a yellowish tint, it could indicate the presence of jaundice. It could also indicate a condition of the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder. Now, that’s just the front of your eyes. 

Beyond the sclera, examining the depths of your eyes can uncover even more clues to your health. Just like how you need a good detective to discover well-hidden clues, you need an optometrist to give your eyes a thorough check to reveal any undiscovered vision issues. Yes, that means checking everything in your eye – even the retina!

The need for comprehensive eye checks

What is a comprehensive eye check? 

A comprehensive eye check is a thorough eye exam performed by an optometrist. While rigorous, a comprehensive eye check is also thorough – it can identify the presence of glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachments, macular degeneration, and more. 

Attending a comprehensive eye checkup appointment has been made easier with plano Eyecheck. plano Eyecheck is a one-stop booking platform that brings eye checks closer to you at an affordable price. With optometry partners located all over the island such as Nanyang Optical, W Optics, Videre Eyecare and Optic Point, you can book an eye check at a location most convenient to you. You can register an appointment at planoeyecheck.com

For a limited time only, all appointments made using plano Eyecheck will receive a S$50 voucher to cover the cost of your comprehensive eye check. Simply visit planoeyecheck.com, register for an account, and select your nearest optometry clinic the on-site map to book for an appointment.

Is there a difference between that and the annual eye checks in school?

The annual eye checks administered in schools are more commonly known as a vision screening. 

If you require a vision screening, Speedoc provides on-the-call vision assessments. This is done with a Snellen chart and clinical assessments to determine squint or any eyelid abnormalities. On top of vision assessments, Speedoc provides 24/7 professional hospital level of care in the comfort of your home.

A comprehensive eye examination is different from a vision screening. For starters, the duration of a vision screening is relatively shorter than a comprehensive eye check. On the other hand, a comprehensive eye check can take up to half an hour or more to fully examine your vision health and the condition of your eyes. During a comprehensive eye check, your optometrist will, at the very least, go through the following tests:

1. Vision acuity tests

These tests measure the accuracy of your vision. You’ve probably encountered this the most often – you stand in front of an eye chart and read out as many alphabets or numbers that you can identify.

2. Colour vision tests

These tests help you to detect any colour deficiencies and notify your doctor of any possible eye health risks that may have an impact on your vision.

3. Retinoscopy

Your optometrist may perform a retinoscopy to acquire an approximate eyeglass prescription. During a retinoscopy, your optometrist will require you to focus your eyes on a specific target. As your eyes are focused on the target, your optometrist will shine a light into your eye and swap out different lenses in front of your eye to ascertain your lens degree. Based on these results, your optometrist will determine the degree of your prescribed eyeglasses.

4. Cover tests

As the name suggests, these tests require you to cover one of your eyes and use the other eye to focus on a specific object on the other side of the room. This is also repeated with a near object. The cover tests allow your optometrist to determine whether the uncovered eye can focus on the object without moving. If the uncovered eye moves, it could indicate the presence of amblyopia (lazy eye), or strabismus (cross eyed).

How often should you attend a comprehensive eye check?

Just like how we make a trip to the dentist once a year, comprehensive eye checks should be done annually as well. Attending one annually can help diagnose any health problems that may surface or have gone undetected. After all, prevention is better than cure!

This post was done in partnership with Speedoc.

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Eye care should be a part of our self care routine so if you think you knew everything about eye care, think again!

Don’t shut your eyes on this.

We all know a thing or two about eye care – annual eye checks, going outdoors, or even placing our phones a good distance away from our eyes. These tips and tricks are useful and essential in preventing vision issues like myopia from progressing, but there’s still more than meets the eye.

Here are 5 mind-blowing eye care facts you may have not known about:

1. Carrots don’t actually help improve your eyesight

We’ve heard our own parents endlessly nag at us to eat our vegetables. Their best persuasive technique?

“It’s for your own good”, they’d say.

However, recent findings have suggested that carrots aren’t exactly the vegetable that will magically transform our eye health overnight. While it is true that carrots are packed with Vitamin A which is essential for eye health, it will not wondrously reverse vision conditions like myopia.

Eating a well-balanced diet supports your overall health, however no diet can reverse or correct any vision problems. Rather, it is the everyday eye care habits that you exercise that have the most profound impact on your eye health.

2. Eye care exercises aren’t 100% fool proof

Google ‘eye care exercises’ and you’ll find pages upon pages promising the best exercises that claim to improve your eye sight. While these eye care exercises find merit in relieving your eyes of strain and stress, they do not completely cure you of eye health issues.

In fact, experts have stated that very little scientific evidence exists to suggest that these eye care exercises can actually improve vision.

3. Your baby should be kept away from phones

We get it. Your little one’s throwing an all-out tantrum and the only way to quell their screaming is with their favourite episode of Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol. But hold it! According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infants shouldn’t even be receiving any screen time at all. In fact, these are the WHO’s screen time recommendations for ages 0 to 4:

  • Infants (0-1 year old): no screen time at all
  • Toddlers (2-4 years old): 1 hour

At such a small tender age, your little one’s eyes are still developing. Exposing their eyes to the harsh glare of the screen can affect their vision and accelerate the advancement of myopia in your baby. Once your child reaches the age of 4 and beyond, you can begin to increase the amount of screen time afforded to them. However, it’s important that they don’t spend prolonged periods of time staring at the screen.

The plano app places eye care at the forefront and reminds your child to consistently take eye breaks every 30 minutes, and to place their phones at least 30 cm away from their eyes. These reminders serve to safeguard their eyes from the effects of extended screen time and prevent vision issues like myopia from progressing.

4. Delaying glasses does not improve your vision

There are plenty of reasons why people don’t usually wear glasses – from aesthetic reasons to comfort, everyone has a reason. One of those reasons is the belief that delaying spectacles will help one improve their eye sight and this could not be further from the truth.

Failing to wear your glasses when you actually do need to can worsen your eye sight. This is because you will be placing your eyes under more strain and stress to focus. If your child requires prescription glasses, it’s important that they wear them regularly and committedly. These glasses will assist their eyes to see clearly and relieve their eyes of the tension and pressure that had been building behind them.

5. Eye care supplements do not keep your eyes 100% safe

Cupboards upon cupboards of vitamins and supplements may fill most of our homes, all with varying functions and purposes. These vitamins and supplements are helpful in supporting our overall health, however, we cannot solely rely on them to cure us of any health issues. 

Eye care supplements in particular can help support our eye health. However, they do not guarantee a reversal of any existing eye health issues, or prevent them. It is still important to consume a well-balanced diet, and practice good eye care habits to prevent vision issues from advancing.

Keeping your eyes peeled.

As they say, health is wealth, and we wouldn’t want anyone messing around with that. For our children especially, their health is our priority – from eye care to dental care, we need to keep our eyes peeled for any fallacies or false information that may come our way. After all, we require all the right information to protect our children and give them the best.

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