Childhood myopia or short-sightedness in Singapore can be inherited by children with parents or grandparents that are short-sighted or have myopia. For the longest time, we have been looking for ways to do away with our spectacles or contact lenses through LASIK and other refractive procedures.
Personally, as an eye doctor, I strongly suggest focusing instead on how to slow down the progression of myopia rates in our children through teaching eye care in Singapore.
Why let our eyes get hurt with myopia then go fix it? Isn’t it better to just prevent childhood myopia in the first place?
When our eye is constantly called upon to focus on near objects – such as when reading, using our electronic devices, our eye muscles are in a contracted state which send signals to our eye to grow and elongate. This causes the eye to soon grow into a myopic length and develop myopia. We will then require the use of spectacles, especially in children.
Childhood Myopia > 500 Degrees Can Lead To BLINDNESS
High myopia among children in Singapore is also dangerous because it leads to multiple complications later in life. Singapore has one of the highest myopia rates in the world — 10% of kindergarten school children, 60% of school children from Primary 6 (12 year olds!) and 80% of people from 18 years old have myopia or poor eye vision. Furthermore, myopia progression tends to increase rapidly for children between 5 to 15 years old in Singapore. Myopia usually stabilises in their early twenties.
The higher the myopia, the more likely complications will arise. In myopia, our eyeball is elongated and stretched out causing areas of retinal thinning in both central and peripheral areas. Central retinal thinning from myopia may result in areas of cell loss or atrophy, leading to decreased central vision. Thinning can also lead to cracks in our retina from which abnormal blood vessels bleed into the retina. This is why it’s so important to prevent the early onset of eye conditions like myopia among children in Singapore!
In the periphery, retinal thinning leads to retinal tears and holes which may eventually result in retinal detachment or macular degeneration. Macular degeneration may lead to vision loss even if repaired surgically.
Even in cases of low to moderate myopia progression, there is still an increased risk of eye conditions like cataract formation, glaucoma and epiretinal membranes among children in Singapore. All of which require early detection and surgical intervention to prevent high myopia progression and visual loss among children in Singapore.
The way I see it, the best way to avoid these complications later in life for children is to prevent the onset of myopia and slow down the progression by ensuring good eye care and eye health in Singapore.
Cut Your Child’s Myopia by 50% in Singapore
Did you know that there’s actually a clinically researched eyedrop that can slow down short-sightedness and the myopia rate of children in Singapore? In Singapore, while there is no cure for myopia, these myopia prevention atropine eyedrops have been put in place under the National Myopia Prevention Programme in Singapore since the 1990s. Studies have shown that these eyedrops slows down the progression of myopia in children by 80! Many of my patients and parents don’t know about this, and I’m always trying to spread the word. There’s more info at my clinic website.
This myopia-prevention eyedrop, which works by relaxing our eye muscles, allows our eyes to ‘relax’ and in doing so, reduces the stimulus to the onset of myopia among children. So, if a child has the genetic potential to reach a degree of 500, and this eyedrop is started early enough, the child could end up with a degree of 250 instead! (Caveats: the eyedrop has to be used every day in children continuously for a long period of time)
Side Effects & Risks of High Myopia in Singapore
The good part is that at this dosage, it has no side effects in 99% of users in Singapore including children. Yes, the side effects of glare and difficulty reading among children hardly ever happen with this dose of the eyedrop. So yes, this eye drop can be part of good eye care and eye health routine.
I’m a mother of 2 young kids in Singapore and I’m planning to start them on this eyedrop THE VERY MOMENT they show signs of myopia development! It’s the least I can do as a parent. I encourage all parents in Singapore to ensure good eye care and create good eye habits for their children too.
However, do note that this eyedrop may not work in everyone with myopia. Some might need a bigger dosage but doing so leads to definite glare and difficulty reading. Of course, there are ways to counter this by using transitional bifocal spectacles. Get your kids to go for regular eye checkups at an eye doctor and have them assess his/her condition.
Also, do remember that these eyedrops only work for myopia if they are started early. So, be sure to have regular eye examinations for your children in order to detect early myopia formation in Singapore.
Don’t Rely On The Eyedrops Completely!
Unfortunately, there is no good way to cut out myopia completely in Singapore. We can only try to curtail myopia. As parents who are short-sighted ourselves, we know we’d take better care of our eyes to prevent myopia if we can turn back time. So let’s not let our children suffer the same!
If not by eyedrops, then start by instilling good work and eye care habits that our children are often lacking in this era of rampant electronic devices that contribute to high myopia. Some good near work and eye care habits for myopia:
- Maintain full arms’ length from your device to your eyes to prevent myopia.
- Maintain a good posture when doing near work.
- Ensure good lighting in your surroundings.
- Decrease the glare or light intensity from your device.
- Take frequent breaks by looking out the window at a faraway object every half hour.
- Avoid reading in a moving vehicle.
- Encourage more outdoor play and exposure to natural sunlight.
*NOT something I encourage as it contributes to myopia!
No matter how hard we strive to achieve these good habits for myopia prevention, ultimately the total amount of time our children spend on their electronic devices is the limiting factor when it comes to myopia. Children get myopic because of prolonged and unsparing use of these devices. Perhaps a cap on their device usage will go a long way in preventing any increase in their myopia?
Please share this article with other parents. You might save a child’s eyesight and prevent them from myopia onset.
Tay, S. A., Farzavandi, S., & Tan, D. (2017). Interventions to Reduce Myopia Progression in Children. Strabismus, 25(1), 23–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/09273972.2016.1276940
Grzybowski, A., Armesto, A., Szwajkowska, M., Iribarren, G., & Iribarren, R. (2015). The Role of Atropine Eye Drops in Myopia Control. Current pharmaceutical design, 21(32), 4718–4730. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612821666150909095403
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