Did you know that your little one could be one out of 14 children in Singapore to develop myopia at five years of age? And that this chance will increase to one out of five when he or she reaches Primary 1 or 2, one out of 2.5 in Primary 3 and 4, and one out of 1.6 in Primary 6?
Before you wave off these statistics and feel that myopia, or nearsightedness, is just a common condition amongst children that does not warrant special attention, there is something you need to know. A person has a greater risk of developing high levels of myopia if it onsets in early childhood, especially before age 10.
Moreover, even though Singapore has eased out of COVID-19 restrictions, our children may have grown accustomed to spending more time in front of digital screens and less under natural sunlight. Such digital addiction could only accelerate development and progression of myopia.
The good news for parents is that you can do something about it. Here are six key considerations to take early control of your child’s eyesight:
1. Do not procrastinate the management of myopia
Some parents are hesitant about starting a myopia management strategy simply because they feel that their child is too young. But remember this: research shows that the earlier a child becomes myopic, the faster their distance vision will blur. Taking action as early as possible can have a huge impact on slowing myopia progression and lowering the final state of myopia in your child.
2. Avoid or minimize exposure to digital devices
The blue light emitted by digital devices such as smartphones, TVs and computers has negative effects on our eyes and increases the risk of myopia. Have your child take frequent eye breaks to minimise the harm and inculcate it as a habit at a young age.
3. Encourage outdoor playtime for at least 1-2 hour daily
While COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, bring your child to play outdoors more often to focus their eyes on a wide range of objects that are both far and near. Outdoor activities not only help to prevent myopia but will also help in the development of your child’s motor skills and lessen their reliance on entertainment from digital devices.
4. Make sure your space Is well-lit
Reading, writing or even playing with toys in the dark could cause your child to develop a headache or eye strain. Performing a task under good lighting will mean that your child’s eyes do not have to work extra hard to see, keeping them from developing myopia.
Do not assume that your home lighting is good enough. Consider this: are you using quality
LED lights that are designed to be easy on your eyes such as the Philips Eyecomfort range. It is time to switch to lighting innovations that consider factors including flicker, glare, stroboscopic effect, photobiological safety, dimmability, tuning, and colour rendering.
5. Practise good posture while reading or watching TV
Is your child lying down while reading a book or watching TV? Reduce his or her risk of myopia by ensuring proper posture and distance all the time. Everything in our body is interconnected, including our eyes and posture. Our head position, angle and distance from objects may cause myopia development due to refractive error.
6. Get regular eye checks
Children’s eyes change quickly during the development stage so it is important to detect any problems early to avoid disrupting your child’s learning development and any behaviour or attention issues. Untreated vision conditions may affect their learning process.
Remember this: getting myopia at a young age can set your child up for worse myopia later in life. Although myopia cannot be reversed or cured, it can be slowed or prevented. We must do everything possible to slow its progress and protect our children’s vision.
This article is contributed by Aditya Vikram Bharadwaj, Product Marketeer, Signify Singapore
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