5 tips for protecting your child’s eyes, from an optometrist
Article by Chew’s Optics Specialist. 8 August 2022
Most of the health issues that kids develop in their formative years can become permanent, if not properly treated. This includes matters of one’s eyes. In such situations, early intervention and prevention are crucial. Here are five tips to protect the eye health of your little ones, before it’s too late.
1. Reduce your child’s screen time
Excessive exposure to media (and television screens) on a daily basis can do all sorts of harm to a kid. It may have adverse effects on a child’s development and even lead to obesity and poor sleep quality, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. What’s more, it has been associated with poor eyesight among kids.
In a North Indian study, children aged 5 to 15 who enjoyed at least two hours of mobile and video game screen time a day are eight times more likely to develop myopia, as compared to those who had zero to two hours of screen time a day. Another study on Chinese pre-schoolers aged 2 to 7 showed that it matters when a child is first exposed to mobile screens as well. If a kid were exposed to mobile devices by the age of 1, they were 4.4 times more likely to develop myopia than those who haven’t been exposed at all.
While we’re well aware of the risks, it doesn’t make reducing screen time any easier, especially when our environment is saturated with digital screens. Using smartphones and tablets as a way to soothe and distract young kids is also a hard habit to kick for parents. One way to reduce your reliance on digital screens is to introduce more analogue devices and toys to entertain your toddlers. It’s important to lead by example as well and stay away from digital devices while you’re with your child.
2. Increase daily outdoor activities
Another way to reduce your kid’s screen time is to introduce them to the great outdoors. Who needs television when there’s a playground right in front of you? You could also bring your kiddos to the beach or the pool, or arrange a picnic in the park.
They’ll get their daily dose of vitamin D and plenty of exercise, which is not just a mood-booster but also helps to strengthen their immune system. The more time children spend outdoors, the lower their risk of developing myopia too, according to this study.
3. Get your kids to wear UV-protected sunglasses
It’s always a good idea to encourage your kids to spend some time outside under the sun, but there remains one downside – harmful UV rays. As long as we’re exposed to the sun, we’re exposed to UV radiation as well. Just as they can damage your skin, they can also hurt your eyes and increase your risk of developing a range of eye diseases and other issues such as cataracts, eye cancer, corneal inflammation, photokeratitis, and growths in the eye.
And children are a lot more vulnerable to UV rays than adults. What helps us filter UV rays is the crystalline lens in our eyes. However, this lens is more transparent in kids and therefore transmits 75% of UV radiation for children under 10 years old, as opposed to 10% in young adults above the age of 25.
To get the right UV-protected sunglasses for your tots, make sure the lenses block up to 400 nm of UVA and UVB rays. They should bear the CE mark and the UV400 label. Some sunglasses also include anti-glare properties, but know that it’s not the same as UV protection. When in doubt, just head over to Chew’s Optics and one of our friendly optometrists will be able to help you and your kid pick out the most suitable pair of sunnies.
4. Manage or limit near-work activities
Research has shown that engaging in more near-work activities can increase the likelihood of developing childhood myopia. These activities include reading, watching TV or playing video games, all done at short distances. Now we’re not saying that your kid should be reading less, but that these activities should be better managed.
For instance, books should ideally be held at least 30cm away from the eyes. You can also make sure that all screens (such as computers and televisions) are positioned at least 50cm away from where your child is seated.
5. Go for regular vision screenings
It’s not easy to perfect your child’s daily routine so that they are completely protected from eye health issues. If your kid can’t escape from the screens or engaging in near-work activities, the best thing you can do for them is to take them to a vision screening.
Make it a habit for your kids to get a comprehensive eye exam every year. This way, you’ll have a professional optometrist monitoring their eye health. Any eye conditions will be detected and treated early – which helps to decrease the chances of progression and deterioration.
Consult an optometrist experienced in treating children
Visit Chew’s Optics for a consultation with one of our certified optometrists in Singapore, who are experienced in attending to children of all ages. Book an appointment with us now, or simply walk in to consult an optometrist. Our spectacle store is located at 144 Teck Whye Lane, #01-211, and we’re open daily except Mondays.
If you have any questions, you can reach us at +65 8314 7093.