Singapore has one of the highest myopia rates because children here spend less time outdoors and more time reading and writing, said Professor Saw Seang Mei, head of the myopia unit at the Singapore Eye Research Institute.
Furthermore, myopia is genetic, so children with myopic parents have a higher chance of being short-sighted as well.
According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the myopia rate has remained constant over the past 10 years – at 65 per cent among Primary 6 pupils and 28 per cent among those in Primary 1, reported Chinese-language paper Lianhe Zaobao.
1. Take Breaks Often
When your kids are doing homework, reading or playing games on the computer and smart phone, they should take a break every 30 to 40 minutes, or when their eyes are dry or tired, or if they feel a headache coming on. Get them to look out the window or just shut their eyes for five to 10 minutes to relax the muscles.
2. Have Sufficient Lighting
Install an anti-glare task lamp to provide light directly above whatever your kids are doing so they don’t strain their eyes.
3. Spend Time Outdoors
When children are outdoors, they naturally spend less time on near-work activities. They’ll also be looking at things from a distance – 6m and beyond – which helps their eye muscles relax too.
4. Have A Balanced Diet
Eye doctors recommends including colourful fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, carrots and tomatoes, into their daily diet. These contains high levels of beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A and helps maintain general retina health.
5. Turn Down The Backlight
Ask your kids to lower the brightness on their handheld devices to as close to the light of the environment as possible, so that it’s not so harsh on their eyes. It also helps to increase the font size of the text they’re reading.
6. Massage The Eyes
Kids shouldn’t do this. That’s because they may apply too much pressure on their eyes and accidentally injure their corneas.
7. Read On Moving Vehicles
The constant motion causes the book or tablet to move towards and away from the eyes, which then have to shift focus. This tires and strains the eyes.
8. Wear Contacts If They Can’t Use Them Properly
Good contact-lens hygiene is essentials for preventing infections or allergies. Wearing contact lens at any age always involves risks, especially oxygen deprivation caused by overnight wear. As young kids are unlikely to be able to care for their lenses properly, it’s not recommended that they use them at all.
Text: Cheryl Leong, Simply Her, April 2014 / Additional Reporting: Sylvia Ong