A huge proportion of children (65% of primary 6 students and 28% of primary 1 students) in Singapore have myopia (short-sightedness). This makes Singapore one of the countries with the highest rate of short-sightedness.
Without a doubt, there is a recent trend of increasing number of cases of myopia which feature earlier onset and quicker progression. This is largely due to the overexposure to electronic devices in our children. According to studies, the younger a child is during the onset of myopia, the greater the chance of that child developing a higher degree of myopia later on in life. Furthermore, the higher the degree of myopia, the greater the risk of developing vision-threatening diseases in future.
What is myopia?
Myopia, also known as short-sightedness, is one of the most common types of refractive errors in Singapore. Because of elongation of the eyeball brought about by constant near work, the light rays that enter the eye focus on a focal plane that is in front of the retina and not directly on the retina as it should. People who suffer from myopia have a hard time looking at distant objects clearly and need spectacles to shift the light rays and focal plane back onto the retina.
What causes myopia?
People with myopia have either eyeballs that are too long or corneas that have too much curvature. Because of this, the light that is entering the eye cannot be focused properly. Rather than on the retina, the light rays of images are focused in front of the retina. This causes the blurring of images sent to the brain.
Most cases of myopia begin at childhood. Children whose parents are short-sighted have higher risk of developing the same condition because of genetic potential. Sometimes, myopia stabilizes as one gets older, but sometimes it progresses as one matures.
What are the symptoms of myopia?
The most noticeable sign of short-sightedness is if you’re having difficulty seeing distant objects clearly. This often includes whiteboards in classrooms, traffic signs on the road, and screens in cinemas.
If you often see your child squinting his eyes and complaining about headaches, it could be related to poor vision. It may be best to bring your child to an eye doctor to have his/her eye assessed.
What eye problems can myopia bring about later in life?
Did you know that people with high myopia tend to develop cataract and glaucoma at earlier onset in adulthood? High myopia also increases risk of retinal tears, holes and retinal detachment. Moreover, people with high myopia have increased risk of epiretinal membranes, macular holes, bleeding in the retina and macular schisis (or splitting of the retinal layers) later in life. All these conditions require surgical treatment.
What are the treatments for myopia?
Short-sightedness can be corrected through eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. Here at Asia Retina, we believe in focussing on prevention of myopia in our children so as to avoid eye diseases in future.
Your best chance to control myopia is to catch it as early as possible. Once you notice your child having difficulty seeing the blackboards at school, trying to sit close to the television whenever he is watching, or hear him complain about headache often, book an appointment immediately with your ophthalmologist for an eye exam.
Furthermore, encourage your child to spend more time doing outdoor physical activities rather than playing the computer. Studies show that spending more time outdoors helps reduce the risk or slow the progression of myopia in children.
Good reading habits such as keeping your book at arms’ length, having good room lighting, adopting good posture, taking frequent breaks every half an hour and not rubbing your eyes will contribute to keeping myopia at bay. Don’t forget that a well-fitting pair of spectacles is very important to the equation as well.
For those who demonstrate a steady increase in degree of short-sightedness, there are prescription eyedrops available that can be used to slow down progression of myopia. These eyedrops work by inducing eye relaxation and have little to no side effects. They must be used under close supervision by your eye doctor.
For adults, especially those who are often in front of the computer, remember to use your gadgets as far away from your eyes as possible. Also, make a habit of frequently looking into the distance to relax your eyes every now and then.
For other enquiries regarding myopia, feel free to talk to Asia Retina. We are proud to have the best eye doctor in Singapore who will gladly answer all your queries regarding the matter. Call +65 6732 0007 or text +65 9118 0007 now or visit us at 290 Orchard Road #15-10 Paragon Medical Suites.