Will Your Child Grow Up Nearsighted?

Child eye care tips that are not so myopic

Research suggests that by 2050 about half of the world’s population will be nearsighted. Here’s what you can do to lessen the odds that your child will grow up nearsighted.

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According to a recent CBS News report, Myopia― a common vision problem that causes close objects to appear clearly, but just the opposite when objects are far away―has increased significantly from the 1970’s to the early 2000’s globally.

While genetics appears to be the major contributor of the condition, some studies suggest that it could also be affected by spending a lot of time doing close-up work, such as computer and telephone texting―activities they believe causes the eyeball to grow longer.

One recommendation for preventing or lessening the decline in vision is to spend more time outdoors, which will cause a person to focus on objects at a distance and thereby relax the eye.

Here’s a CBS News video about myopia:

Parenting Eye Care Tips for Your Child

Here are 5 simple eye care tips for your child from the country that has one of the world’s highest rates of myopia―Singapore:

1. Reduce time spent on near work

 --Reduce the time your children are allowed to spend playing games on hand-held electronic devices, smartphone games and other computer-related activities such as blogging and internet chats.
 --Encourage your child to take a break after 30-40 minutes of near work such as reading or writing. Your child should look at distant objects for 3 to 5 minutes. They could look out of the window into the distance or at nearby greenery.

2. Increase time spent on outdoor activities every day

 --There is a growing body of evidence that outdoor activities may delay the onset or progression of myopia in your child. So get your child to spend time playing ball games, walking in the park or go on family picnics at the beach, etc.
 --Outdoor activities should not include reading or playing hand-held games outdoors. Instead, encourage your child to engage in fun activities that involve body movements to increase physical fitness. Better yet, join in the fun.

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3. Encourage other healthy eye care habits

 --Ensure there is adequate lighting in the room.
 --When reading, make sure they hold the book about 12 inches away from their eyes.
 --Make sure when using the computer, the monitor screen is about 20 inches away from their eyes.
 --Sit at a distance from the TV that is appropriate to its size. The bigger the TV, the further away your child should sit.

4. Take your child for eye check-ups yearly

--Even if your child has been screened for myopia in school, it’s a good idea to take them for a check-up if they are squinting, having headaches or blurred vision.

5. Ensure a healthy lifestyle

 --Encourage them to eat a balanced diet.
 --Try to make sure your child has at least eight hours of sleep each night to rest the eyes.
 --Instead of just playing computer games, get them to participate in outdoor games as well.

For more about myopia, here are some selected informative articles on the subject:

Children Spending More Time Outdoors Less Likely To Become Nearsighted

Sunlight exposure reported to decrease vision deterioration in children

References:

CBS NewsWhat's behind the rise in nearsightedness?

Singapore Health Promotion Board “Eye Care Tips to Help Reduce the Progression of Myopia

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