Myopia is a common vision disorder where one has difficulty viewing things from afar. Nowadays, cases of myopia have been on the rise, even among the younger population. Children in Singapore may experience higher rates of myopia than in other countries, as they spend much of their time engaging in near work which strains their eyes. Some may even claim that it is due to how much time children spend on their phones, or studying and revising their schoolwork.
Although the prevalence of myopia can be rather alarming, there are ways to slow down its progression. It is important to start managing myopia as soon as it is detected so that your child’s vision will not worsen.
Tips for Parents
- Spend More Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors has been shown to be exceptionally beneficial in slowing down the progression of myopia. The natural sunlight can help to stimulate your child’s developing eyes to grow at the correct rate, instead of the accelerated rate which leads to myopia. Exposure to sunlight also stimulates the production of vitamin D, which studies have shown may be helpful in curbing myopia as well.
Encourage your child to take regular breaks from using electronic devices and heading out for a walk. Not only can they protect their vision better, they can also take the time to unwind and relax!
2. Watch Your Diet
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — a healthy and well-balanced diet can help to slow down myopia. The following foods are rich in nutrients and have also been shown to be effective in promoting eye health: fatty fish (e.g., tuna, sardines, anchovies, salmon), nuts and legumes (e.g., walnuts, cashews), seeds (e.g., chia, flax), dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, watercress, kale), carrots, citrus fruits (e.g., oranges and grapefruits), sweet potatoes, and eggs.
3. Have Good Indoor Habits
As much as spending more time outdoors is useful for your child’s eyesight, so is having the right habits while indoors. Below are a few things you can do to continue protecting your child’s eyes at home.
Mind the distance. When using a computer or laptop, it is best to maintain a distance of 50 centimetres from the screen to the eyes. While reading books or non-electronic materials, maintain a distance of 30 centimetres between the book and the eyes.
Take regular breaks. A good rule of thumb is the 20/20 rule: take a 20-second break for every 20 minutes spent reading or using screens. During the break, your child should look outside the window at objects in the distance in order to rest their eyes. Alternatively, simply looking across the room away from the screen or book is good too.
Avoid dimly lit settings. Research has suggested that spending a lot of time reading or using screens in the dark may worsen one’s eyesight as it strains the eyes. This is detrimental to eye health and could accelerate the progression of myopia.
4. Consult an expert
If you need more help or clarification, it is best to consult your ophthalmologist or optometrist for the best course of action for your child. They would be able to provide the best advice for them.
Myopia can be worrying, especially if it occurs early in young children. But with the strategies and recommendations outlined here, you are now on your way to slowing down your child’s myopia progression!