Travelling on a train can be especially boring if you do not have company or if it’s a long trip, so it is not uncommon to find people catching up on reading or watching videos or movies during their commute. 

Although this might be one of the most common ways to pass the time for a countless number of travellers, could there be ill effects of reading/ watching something while travelling?

The short answer is no, as reading or looking at something on the train does not cause any severe damage to the eye (Of course, only whilst following good eye care habits, as). However, reading or looking at something on a train can induce motion sickness. Although this does not apply to everyone, people prone to motion sickness, people with migraine problems, the elderly, children aged 2—12, and pregnant women are at a greater risk.

Why does reading/watching cause motion sickness?

The main reason behind the onset of motion sickness while reading when travelling is the conflict of stimulus signals between one’s eyes and ears that triggers the symptoms of motion sickness like nausea, headache, dizziness, and sweating among others.

In simple terms, when you are reading a book while travelling on a train or any other form of transportation, your eyes are focussing on a page with static words at a fixed distance from your face, this makes the eyes signal steadiness to your brain. While this is happening, your inner ear highly attuned to body movements feels the vibrations of the transportation you’re in and it signals movement.

This conflict of stimulus signals confuses the brain, making it believe that you might have consumed some kind of toxic food that’s making you hallucinate. Thus, this triggers nausea, to get the ‘food’ out of your system.

How can you avoid motion sickness while reading?

Though there is no cure for motion sickness, the best thing you can do to avoid motion sickness while reading on a train is to take regular breaks and look outside the window to regain your visual perspective of motion.

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“Why fix something that isn’t broken?” This popular adage briefly sums up our lackadaisical attitude towards our eye health. Many people believe that eye tests are simply a test of our vision and as long we can see clearly there is no point in visiting an optometrist. However, it is just as much checking your overall eye health as its checking on your vision.

More than just a test for vision.

On top of vision, an optometrist checks for eye muscle imbalance, vision disorders and other eye diseases that can potentially lead to the loss of eyesight. Few of the eye diseases and vision problems detected early through regular eye tests include;

  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes Retinopathy
  • Cataracts
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Choroidal Melanoma
  • High blood pressure
  • Myopia /Hyperopia/ Astigmatism
  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus

Waiting till it’s too late to ‘see’ the problem.

Many of the eye diseases do not give off any symptoms and by the time you feel any discomfort, it would have progressed to an advanced stage thus potentially threatening your vision.  As such it is important to undergo an annual eye exam to ascertain the healthiness of your eyes.

Besides helping the early detection of various eye diseases and vision problems, here are 3 potentially life-saving benefits of having regular eye tests.

  1. Establishes a health baselineRegular eye test can help develop a baseline of your eye tissues so changes can be detected rather easily.
  2. Identifies potential health problems – Our eyes help identify various potential health problems in other parts of the body. This is so because our eyes offer a clear view of the blood vessels, nerves, and connecting tissues. Some of the many health problems that can be detected via an eye test are – brain bleed, autoimmune diseases, stroke, head trauma and sexually transmitted diseases among others.
  3. Helps treat vision issues – Regular eye tests also help with fixing any problems you might be having regarding clarity of vision, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.

Potential Health Risks of not taking regular Eye Tests

Still not convinced? Here are a few potential pitfalls you inadvertently expose yourself to.

  • To begin with, those who do not go for regular are always at a higher risk of losing partial or complete vision due to varied eye diseases.
  • Moreover, several eye diseases are silent meaning they don’t give off any early symptoms and by the time your eye problem is detected, it might be too late to reverse them. Some of these silent vision killers are – glaucoma, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

Hopefully, by now, you can see the importance of eye examinations, and get your eyes checked regularly. Keep an eye out on the blog for when you should go for an eye checkup!

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Square-eyed: Overwhelming time spent on devices

12 hours and 42 minutes.

In 12 hours and 42 minutes, you can complete a full day of work, head home, have dinner, maybe watch an episode or two of your favourite TV show and fall into bed. The average Singaporean spends a staggering 12 hours and 42 minutes glued onto their digital devices daily. Globally, we spent about 1 billion years online in the year 2018.

It’s imperative for you to take care of yourself through practicing healthy device usage habits, with this amount of time spent staring at your screen. If you don’t, a whole host of potential health issues awaits, like neck pain, shoulder aches – and myopia.

Myopia is a condition where distant objects appear blurred due to the lengthening of the eye. This condition currently affects an estimated 2 billion people around the world. This number is expected to increase to 5 billion people, or half of the world’s population, by 2050. Singapore has been labelled ‘the myopia capital of the world’, with almost 80% of school children now suffering from myopia. It’s no wonder, given that 12-year-old Singaporean kids spend an average of 6.5 hours on their electronic devices daily, and not necessarily with the right habits.

Fighting the epidemic: Let’s #seepastthescreen together

Is there a way to fight this epidemic? Here’s where #seepastthescreen comes in. The campaign aims to combat this growing problem by raising awareness and showing others how to enjoy technology without harming their eyes.

Help us amplify and drive home the message that unhealthy device usage leads to myopia: Join the movement today! Here’s how to take part in #seepastthescreen:

In essence:

1. Take a photo of yourself with your device

2. Type #seepastthescreen & share it on your Facebook and/or Instagram account (remember to set it as public!)

3. Check out seepastthescreen.sg to find out more about the myopia epidemic

How you can do more.

While our campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative impacts of unhealthy device usage, it’s only the first step in the journey toward good eye care. There’s only a limit to how much technology and social media can do. Starting from home is essential in building good daily habits. Children are most vulnerable as myopia usually develops in childhood. Parents’ active involvement in essential in the prevention, and delaying the progression of myopia.

One useful method to ensure that your child is using their devices safely is through using parental control applications. With such a measure, you can rest assured that your child’s eyesight is taken care of even when you are not around.

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We’ve all been there. One minute you are turning on your computer with the intention of a solid hour of work, and BAM! It’s several hours later and you’re on a pointless Buzzfeed Quiz (See: What Pokémon/Disney princess/superhero etc. are you?) with little to no progress on your work.

The phenomenon of getting distracted easily is one of the many signs that you may be suffering from screen addiction. Screen addiction does not discriminate – it affects adults as much as it affects children. Fortunately, no matter your age, there are several key signs you can look out for. Recognising these signs can help you take the necessary steps to curb your addiction and develop a healthy, well-balanced relationship with technology.

1. “Where has the time gone?”

If you notice that you are losing large chunks of time being on your phone or computer, you may be a victim of addiction. A crucial activity you could be compromising on because of your addiction is sleep. Alarmingly, your nightly routine of checking your phone updates right before bedtime could have a twofold effect on your sleep cycle. Not only does your phone distract you long enough such that you don’t physically shut your eyes at the intended time, research shows that phone use before bed may make it harder for you to fall asleep and may even cause insomnia! Getting too little sleep can make you easily irritable and distracted at work or school, leading to a dip in your productivity levels.

2. Nomophobia

Have you ever forgotten to bring your phone to a social event? Maybe you have been in a situation where your phone’s battery level is low and there is no charger in sight. If the thought of being separated from your phone gives you the shivers, you may be suffering from nomophobia.

For many of us, nomophobia is all too true. While our phones seem to have the magical ability to save us from awkward social interaction or make time fly during a boring event, an over-reliance on it may indicate that you are addicted to your device. The next time you feel anxious when you are separated from your phone, remind yourself that this fear is irrational and simply unnecessary!

3. Technoference

Your excessive phone usage could be a source of conflict between you and your partner. 

A recent study by Brigham Young University on the disruption caused by texts, emails or games, coined ‘technoference,’ revealed the association between higher levels of technoference and relationship conflicts. Interestingly, the study was one of the first to investigate the larger psychological effects of technoference on romantic relationships. Some of these effects include feeling ignored, neglected and even depressed in the relationship!Here’s why: If you are addicted to your device and constantly feel the need to check your phone, especially during a conversation, meal or romantic moment, you are signalling to your partner that your device is more important than him/her. This causes your partner to feel ‘rejected.’ If this happens often enough, the constant feeling of rejection builds up and may put a strain on your relationship beyond repair.

Hence, if you notice your partner making comments about the number of times you are glancing at your screen, it may be time to pay attention to him/her and disconnect to connect!

So, are you suffering from screen addiction? 

If you can identify with the above screen addiction ‘signs,’ be proactive in taking the first step to change! Taking the first step can be as small as choosing to leave your phone behind when you are out with your loved ones. 

Remember, technology was developed to enhance the quality of our lives. Developing a well-balanced relationship with it is key to ensuring that it serves its purpose.

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As parents whose children are growing up in the midst of the digital age, we are faced with a new type of challenge – getting our children to drop their phones and experience the great outdoors.

Sure, social media, gaming and watching TV provide the same level of engagement and entertainment as playing outdoors and making connections out in the real world, but at what cost?

Research shows that children who spend more time outdoors have a higher likelihood of preventing the onset of myopia. As parents, it is our responsibility to encourage our little ones to lead a more active lifestyle, from a very young age.

What causes myopia?

It is easy to blame having myopia or your children developing it at a young age on genetics. Indeed, it is true that individuals with a particular set of genes are predisposed to developing myopia. However, research on people that develop myopia although their parents or siblings do not have myopia suggests that genetics is not the sole factor that plays a role.

New studies have begun to shed light on negative environmental factors as a significant contributor of myopia. These include too much near work, screen time and too much time indoors. Interestingly, excessive near work and too much time indoors work together when it comes to causing and worsening myopia progression.

The good news?

As parents of children growing up constantly ‘plugged in,’ it can be daunting to find that environmental factors can play such a significant role in your child developing myopia. However, knowing that non-genetic factors also cause myopia provides an opportunity for you to modify your little one’s behaviour to reduce the risk factors associated with myopia and its progression.

How exactly does outdoor time help?

Research also shows that if you and your partner are nearsighted, the risk of your child needing glasses rises to an alarming 60% if not enough time is spent outdoors. The solution? Just 2 hours a day outdoors neutralises the risk of myopia to 20% (equal risk associated with a child whose parents are not myopic!)

When your child leaves his phone for some playtime outdoors, several things occur. Firstly, more time outdoors naturally means less screen time and near work, both vital contributors to myopia development and progression. Moreover, not only does being outdoors force your child to focus on distant objects, it increases his exposure to sunlight. These factors slow down the axial growth of the eye, which contributes to myopia.

Shedding some light on the benefits of sunlight.

Some theories suggest that soaking up Vitamin D from sunlight stunts abnormal childhood eye growth and the onset of myopia. Another theory is that the brightness of the light outdoors (relative to the indoors) triggers the release of dopamine in certain cells in the retina. This then reduces the progression of the growth of the eye, which ultimately means less risk of near-sightedness. While more research has to be done in these theories, they all have the same takeaway: the outdoors should be an important part of your kids’ lives and it is your responsibility as a parent to encourage them to enjoy a few hours of outdoor time everyday!

“The childhood shows the man as morning shows the day”

John Milton

Educating your child on the importance of the great outdoors and spending less time behind the screen empowers them to intrinsically develop a healthy relationship with technology and lead a healthy lifestyle, well-balanced lifestyle.

For more information on myopia and how to protect your little ones from myopia and how to reduce myopia progression, download our report here.

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Cool, sleek, and dark – your child’s phone’s new Dark Mode may be an enticing feature, but does it really help them manage their eye health and prevent myopia from progressing?

The new black.

If your child is an Apple device user and have updated to the latest iOS version, you may have realised that your device now comes with Dark Mode. Android users also have a similar function where you can enable the Android dark theme through the device’s settings. It’s the latest trend in app design, and according to Apple, it helps you “stay focused on your work”, and is “easy on the eyes”. But can it relieve eye strain and prevent myopia from progressing?

So how does (or doesn’t) it help?

It’s dark at night, and when your child switches on his/her phone, he/she is blinded by the glare from his/her phone. Switching to Dark Mode helps relieve his/her eyes of that glare, momentarily at least.

According to research, users who use Dark Mode themes with a high contrast experience more eye fatigue than those who don’t. In fact, other studies have demonstrated that the human eye naturally prefers dark text on bright backgrounds. Just imagine a picture of an object backlit against the sun, the sun flare would cause the outline of the object to blur. Blurry objects are a bad thing as the human eye typically depends on clarity to extract details. In fact, serious visual perception issues can lead to eye health risks like myopia. Therefore, Dark Mode may not be the solution to preventing myopia or any other eye health risks.

Nevertheless, if your child continuously uses his/her phone no matter in Dark Mode or not, it won’t change the fact that his/her eyes will get tired and experience Digital Eye Strain (DES). The plano app can help you manage your child’s screen time and prevent myopia from developing further. With features that help limit your child’s screen time, and detect the amount of light in their surroundings, the plano app can help develop good eye care habits in your child.

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If you are a working parent, you may have come across this term – Digital Eye Strain (DES). You may think that this phenomenon merely occurs to young adults and older age groups. Unfortunately, no one is spared from DES, not even your child. With children spending a significant amount of time on devices nowadays, it should be no surprise if they experience DES.

The Proof.

In the screen and our eyes report by plano, it is reported that 97% of children aged 4 years or younger regularly use smart devices and almost three quarters of children in the same age group have their own devices. Preschoolers and primary school children have been found to spend even more time on devices, with an average of three and five hours of use per day, respectively.

The increase in device use places children at a greater risk at developing myopia/nearsightedness or DES.

How do you know if your child suffers from DES?

The common signs and symptoms of DES include posture problems, headache, dry eyes, irritation, redness and blurred vision. These signs are enough to schedule an eye examination for your child.

If you are a plano user, you can book an appointment for an eye examination.

What other steps can you take to prevent DES in your child? 

In addition to scheduling an eye examination, these are other useful habits you can encourage your child to cultivate.

1. Frequent eye breaks 

The American Optometric Association recommends taking a 15 minute break after 2 hours of device use. Following the 20-20-20 strategy (looking at objects 20 feet away for 20 seconds after 20 minutes of screen time) has also been shown to be an effective strategy for preventing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). But constantly reminding your child every 20 minutes to take an eye break can be taxing. Investing in parental management apps can help – plano parental control app prompts your child to take eye breaks in between his/her screen time to rest their eyes. 

2. Outdoor activities 

It is recommended that children spend 2 to 3 hours outdoors per day to maintain good eye health. This may also reduce their risk of developing myopia. 

3. Face to screen distance

A closer face-to-screen distance puts more strain on the eye’s focusing abilities and leads to greater exposure to blue light and glare to the eyes, thereby potentially causing eye fatigue and worsening DES symptoms. The face-to-screen detection feature in the plano app advises your children to hold their smart devices at least 30cm from the face, and maintain at least 60cm of distance between their faces and computer screens.

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Your baby’s got a good healthy pair of fresh eyes and their vision goes through many milestones in their first year of life. Find out below the milestones of your baby’s vision and learn how to accommodate to your baby’s developing vision.

Pregnancy.

Unbeknownst to many, an infant’s vision development starts during pregnancy. If you’re a pregnant mother, taking good care of your body is vital to safeguard your baby’s healthy eyes and good vision. Be sure to heed the instructions regarding nutrition and the amount of proper rest given by your medical professional (be it OB-GYN, a family physician or a certified nurse-midwife).

Being cautious of your food intake is critical as the food you ingest is your baby’s main source of nourishment. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medicine or supplements during your pregnancy.

After pregnancy.

At birth

Congrats! Your baby is born! A baby’s vision changes and goes through many developmental milestones in the first year. At birth, your baby will have 20/400 vision, thus giving them blurry vision. 
So don’t fret if your baby isn’t making eye contact with you. Also, at this time, your baby can only see in black and white. 

Months 1-3:

At the start, infants are unable to focus on objects that are more than 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) away from their faces. By 8 weeks, as their retinas develop, your baby’s pupils widen and they can see light and dark ranges and patterns. Large shapes and bright colors may begin to attract their attention too. While your baby will begin to focus on an object right in front of them, they may still prefer to focus on brightly coloured objects further away. 
As your baby approaches his/her 4th month, he/she will develop clearer visual acuity. Your baby should also be able to follow moving objects and reach for objects he or she sees. Furthermore, your baby should be able to shift their gaze from one object to another without tilting their head. 

Tips: 

  • Decorate your baby’s room with more bright colours to stimulate his or her colour vision
  • Hang a colourful mobile near their crib
  • Talk to your baby as you walk around the room
  • Place reach-and-touch toys within your baby’s focus of 8-12 inches (20-25cm)
  • Ensure you alternate your child’s position in the crib frequently

Months 4-6:

During these months, your baby will go through significant milestones in the vision centers of his/her brain, improving your baby’s control of eye movements and eye-body coordination skills.

While your baby’s colour vision is not as sensitive as an adult’s, it is estimated that your baby will have good colour vision by 5 months of age. 

Tips:

  • Give your baby plenty of play area for him or her to crawl and explore 
  • Play songs with hand movements and move your baby’s hands through the motions
  • Provide your baby with wooden blocks with different textures

Months 7-12:

This is a vital development period for your baby. At this stage, infants are gaining a better awareness of their overall body and how to coordinate their vision with their body movements. As your baby starts to crawl, this will improve their eye-hand-foot-body coordination. 

American Optometric Association advises parents to encourage crawling rather than walking to enhance their babies’ eye-hand-foot-body coordination.

Tips:

  • Play hide and seek games with toys or your face to enhance the baby’s visual memory
  • Give your baby stacking and take-apart toys
  • Associate names with objects to enhance the baby’s vocabulary developmental skills
  • Sit with your baby and read books with interesting pictures and textures

Eye Examinations

It is important that your baby receives a comprehensive eye examination in their first year, to identify any developmental delays and vision-related problems. Identifying vision-related problems early have a better chance of being treated successfully.

What’s the difference between a comprehensive eye examination and a regular eye test?

A regular eye test only looks out for vision impairments such as refractive errors (myopia, astigmatism and more).

In a comprehensive eye examination, the optometrist will examine your eyes for the potential eye conditions or disorders that you or your baby are at risk of developing, as well as refractive errors and other vision impairments.

Book an appointment.

If you are a plano user, you can enjoy discounts of up to $60 off when you book an eye appointment with one of our partners. 

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Picking the right sunglasses for a day out should be more than just #forthegram. The best pair of sunglasses is one that protects your eyes while making a fashion statement.

Sun’s out shades on

We’re right in the heat of summer, and the sun could not be more glaring. While it’s all fun and vibrant when it comes to the latest summer styles, our sunglasses should be more than just another accessory piece.

Notice those wrinkles around the corners of your eyes? Well, they’re a product of spending too much time under the sun. This is because while the sun is a great source of Vitamin D, it also radiates harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays – both UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin tissue, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. UV rays breakdown the collagen in your skin which help to provide structure to your skin. Unprotected exposure to these UV rays can cause wrinkles to appear. So before you head to the beach for a good tan, besides slapping on your favourite sunscreen lotion, remember to head to the shop to get a good pair of sunnies that block out those harmful UVA and UVB rays from damaging the skin around your eyes.Those UV-protection sunglasses won’t just deter wrinkles from forming, but also protect your eyes from sun damage. If exposed to too much UV rays, you run the risk of developing cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye’s lens, which causes blurry vision.

Other considerations

After you’ve picked out a pair of sunglasses with the best UVA and UVB coverage, you may think about the colours of the lens. Just remember, a black-coloured pair of lenses, it doesn’t exactly equate to complete UV coverage. As your pupil controls how much light enters and exits, when you wear a pair of dark sunglasses, the pupil dilates for more light to enter. If your sunglasses don’t have the best UV coverage, you’d be letting in more UV into the back of your eyes.

Last, but definitely not least, you may want to consider the material of the sunglasses you’re intending to buy. Plastic is a lightweight and break-proof option and hence good for sports. Glass on the other hand is scratch-resistant and considered very clear. Besides these 2 options, you can consider polycarbonate lenses. These are lightweight, thin and inherently block 100% of UVA & UVB rays, though some have mentioned that polycarbonate isn’t as clear as glass. Be it plastic, or glass, or some new trendy polycarbonate material, be sure to buy one that suits your tastes, preferences, and needs best. Whatever the case, remember to protect your eyes from the sun and those harmful UV rays. Happy shopping!

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“Mummy, I can’t see in school.” Perhaps some parents have heard their children talk about how impossible it is to focus in class without squinting. If you have, your child may be experiencing myopia. Besides requesting that your child sits further front, you might want to get your child’s eyesight checked and potentially prevent myopia from progressing.

See it to believe it

Learning in school is largely a visual process – from looking at the whiteboard to reading textbooks, most of your child’s learning begins with his/her sight. Eye strains, constantly rubbing their eyes, or an avoidance of reading are some symptoms that indicate problems with your child’s vision.

When that happens, you’d want to visit an optometrist. At the optometrist, you can expect your child’s eyes to be thoroughly checked for refractive errors such as myopia (more commonly known as nearsightedness), and perhaps receive a prescription for a pair of spectacles or contact lenses to correct your child’s vision and prevent myopia from developing.

However, eye examinations should not stop after getting a pair of spectacles. Research has shown that regular eye check ups help to monitor the development of myopia. In fact, there is a 50% increased risk of having uncorrected refractive error if the interval between your child’s last eye examination was more than 2 years ago. At worse, not attending regular eye check-ups put your child at a higher risk of losing partial or complete vision.

Further vision impairment can be prevented by going for regular and timely eye examinations. Attending eye examinations at an optometrist can help keep your child’s eyesight in check and monitor the progress of their vision health. By doing so, it can help ease your child’s vision discomfort and prepare for the upcoming school year. Your child’s eyes will feel less strain and stress, and he/she will be able to concentrate better in class.

Healthy eyes and good vision are integral to help your child reach his/her best academic potential. But more importantly, your child’s eyes are a window to experience the world around them. Prevent myopia’s progression safeguard your children from other vision health risks by booking and attending regular eye check-ups through the plano app

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