Myopia among children in Singapore is more common than you think. How can you prevent it from happening to your child?
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
Teaching and encouraging your child to take care of his eyes are important first steps towards reducing the risk of him developing myopia. Follow these tips to help your child fight myopia.
Spend More Time Outside Daily
The more your child engages in outdoor activities, the lower his risk will be in developing myopia. Yap recommends children spend two to three hours outdoors each day. “This is particularly important for young children because those who develop myopia early are most likely to progress to more severe cases,” says senior consultant, Yap Tiong Peng, Paediatric Optometry PL, IGARD Group Singapore.
If your child is spending an extended amount of time outside, be sure to take measures to protect his eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays such as wearing a cap or sunglasses with UV protection.
Also, spending time outside does not include playing games on the smartphone or tablet or reading outdoors. Ensure your child is doing something that encourages him to get physically active.
Take Regular Breaks when Doing Near Work
“Look away for a minute or so to change your focus every 30 to 60 minutes to alter the demand on the visual efficiency,” says director and consultant for Titus Eye Care, Titus Wu. Your child can also take a break by going outside, looking at distant objects, or simply just resting his eyes.
Reduce the Time Spent on Doing Near Work After School
Children in Singapore already spend a large amount of their time doing near work in school. Add to that the extra time they spend on after school tasks such as homework, tuition, as well as time spent using their computers, smartphones or tablets, the amount of time occupied with near work can get excessive. This is why having your child use less of his time on near work after school can help to lower his risk of developing myopia. “Try to limit near tasks after school to two hours or less a day,” advises Wu, “Balance is key. Ensure a healthy balance between inside and outside time, and increase natural lighting indoors.”
Encourage Other Good Visual Habits at Home
“Ensure that the child sits upright while reading, maintains a reading distance of at least 35 cm, uses a desk lamp when reading, avoids playing with the tablet or smartphone in the dark and gets a balanced diet,” says Yap.
Set a Good Example for Your Child
As parents, you should also practise these eye care tips to motivate your child to follow along. If these habits are instilled in your child at a young age, it will be easier for him to continue with them in the future.