Myopia is common amongst children in Singapore and the numbers are on the rise due to increased screen time for both entertainment and school work. Surveys show that it affects up to a third of 9-year-olds and half of 12-year olds (Singhealth).
Jasline Toh, Senior Paediatric Optometrist at Eyescreen™ by Cordlife, shares more about this form of short-sightedness, what to look out for, commonly asked questions as well as children’s eyecare tips for parents.
Signs of myopia and pre-myopia
#1 Frequent blinking and rubbing of eyes
- This happens especially after reading, writing, watching TV or using mobile phones or tablets.
#2 Squinting of eyes
- Frowning while squeezing one’s eyes smaller.
- Straining to look at distant objects.
#3 Tearing of eyes
- After rubbing the eyes.
- After activities that require one to look at objects very closely.
However, most young children with vision problems may not show any signs or symptoms of myopia. They could have gotten used to blurry vision since young and may not understand or know how normal clear vision looks like.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1 What is the difference between short sightedness and long sightedness?
Short sightedness (also known as myopia) occurs when the length of the eye grows more elongated than a normal eye. This results in objects at a distance appearing blurry but objects that are near appearing clear.
Hyperopia, more commonly known as long sightedness, is a condition when the eye length is shorter than normal. This causes objects that are near to appear blurry while distance vision remaining clear.
#2 What causes myopia in children?
The exact cause of myopia is still unknown. However, studies have shown that hereditary and environmental factors can be related to myopia onset.
Having one myopic parent increases the risk by two to three times. Having parents who are both myopic, the risk increases up to six times. Children in urban environments have reduced outdoor time as compared with those in suburban areas. In addition, children that tend to stay indoors will usually have intense near work tasks such as reading, writing and screen time related activities.
#3 Can a child outgrow short-sightedness?
No, myopia is irreversible. This is why early prevention is strongly recommended to prevent it from developing and worsening later on.
#4 How do you treat short-sightedness in children?
Spectacles are usually recommended to young myopic children due to the ease in handling and maintenance. The choice of contact lenses is available as well. Both spectacles and contact lenses come with myopia control designs too.
#5 Should a myopic child be sent for vision therapy?
Myopia cannot be treated with eye exercises. Instead, children with myopia should be sent for myopia management to help slow down its progression.
#6 Is it bad to rub the eyes?
Excessive eye rubbing can cause structural damage to the eyes. If it gets bad enough, it could lead to astigmatism and other eye conditions such as keratoconus which results in poor vision.
Jasline’s Eyecare Tips for Kids
#1 Minimal near-vision work
- Avoid activities that involve a short working distance such as reading, writing and video games, especially if your child already has daily screen time.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has suggested that toddlers below two should not have screen time at all.
- A sedentary lifestyle can also possibly increase the likelihood of childhood obesity or affect physical health and mental wellbeing as well according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
#2 Have daily outdoor time whenever possible
- According to various studies, it helps in myopia prevention.
- At my clinic, my young patients that have more outdoor time tend to have better myopic control too.
#3 Comprehensive eye examinations
- An eye examination is important for infants as early as 6 months old as per American Optometric Association (AOA) recommendations.
- This will allow early detection of any eye anomaly and pre-myope who is at risk so there can be early intervention or treatment.
Book an eye check today
Regular eye examinations can help to keep track of your child’s eye health and identify eye conditions that require treatment. Book an eye check with Eyescreen™ by Cordlife at Thomson Paediatric Centre.
Eyescreen™ by Cordlife
Address: #03-05 Thomson Paediatric Centre, 339 Thomson Road
Hotline: 8568 0808
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