What are Near Work Activities?
Activities done at short distances such as reading, working at your desk, using digital screens (using the computer or watching TV, etc.) are known as near work activities.
Near work, activities require a high amount of visual attention and energy. Due to the large amounts of near work activity (such as reading and using the computer), our young ones engage in as they go about their schooling years has long been thought as a potential increase in the risk of them developing myopia. Studies on this topic, however, have not able to prove consistently the relationship between time spent on near work and the development of myopia in schoolchildren. As such, the academic community is keeping a close watch on the associations between cases of myopia development and time engaged in near work by collecting and closely reviewing all new studies on this subject.
Things Parents Can Do to Help Children Keep Myopia Away
Schedule Screen Time.
Studies reveal that lifestyles concerning the amount of time on digital screen usage directly impact their near work habits and activity, showing a correlation in the development of myopia. The modern youth spends a copious amount of time on near work activities, especially when engaged in education, where digital screen use is increasing with current times. Though it’s not feasible to stop them from using vital tools such as the computer in these times, setting clear boundaries on screen time can aid in reducing eye strain from excessive amounts of digital screen use.
Spend time outside.
With the advent of the digital age, our young ones tend to spend an increasing amount of time indoors as the digital world encroaches on all aspects of lifestyle (such as work, entertainment, social activity and information sources). Seek to plan more time outdoors.
Studies suggest that myopia development and progression may be caused by light levels,1 which may be directly related to how little time kids spend outdoors nowadays. In fact, according to the Vision Council, nearly one in four kids spend more than three hours per day using digital devices,3 when they might be better off heading outside for some good old-fashioned play. Increased outdoor activity has been shown to retard the onset of myopia by 11-34%.4 One possible reason for this is because components of sunlight activate vitamin D, which may play a potential role in eye growth.4 Also, kids are usually engaged in more distance-vision activities when they’re outside, which places fewer strenuous near-vision demands on young eyes.
Ask your doctor about ways to manage myopia.
Regular glasses and contact lenses can help kids see more clearly, but they do not slow down the progression of myopia, which means kids may need increasingly stronger prescriptions as they continue to grow. However, certain types of contact lenses—including soft lenses—can slow down the speed at which myopia develops.5 According to the American Optometric Association, multifocal contact lenses for children with myopia can slow the progression of nearsightedness, providing a more effective and efficient treatment option.6
Controlling myopia in children is important because as their eyes grow and their myopia increases, the dependency on glasses increases. This can reduce the ability of children to participate actively in sports and other activities. Increasing myopia can also lead to eye health problems in the future.
We can’t change kids’ genes, but we can take steps to ensure that we’re doing all we can to keep them healthy.