We grew up hearing many myths revolve around myopia from our parents, but how true are they? Let’s take a look at the facts behind three common myths and listing out some eye-care dos and don’ts.
1. Myth: Reading While Lying Down Causes Myopia
Fact: Somewhat True.
Any form of close reading – in any position – is considered near-work. But when you are lying down, gravity comes in, making it harder to keep a good reading distance between your book and your eyes. “We would like children to maintain a good distance from the book (about 20-30cm) while reading, and this may be more difficult when lying down”, says Adjunct Associate Professor Audrey Chia, senior consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Service at Singapore National Eye Centre and KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
2. Myth: Wearing Glasses All The Time Will Increase Your Degree
Fact: Not True.
Most children with myopia will see distant objects more clearly with glasses. However, children with low myopia may not need to wear glasses all the time, assures Dr Chia.
3. Myth: Wearing A Lower Degree Will Stop Myopia From Increasing Over Time
Fact: Not True.
According to Dr Chia, wearing a slightly lower or higher degree probably makes very little difference to the rate of myopia progression in children. In fact, under-correcting your degree may add more strain to the eye muscles when they try to focus, and may eventually worsen myopia.
Eye Care Dos & Don’ts
1. Take Breaks Often
When your kids are doing activities that requiring them to look at a fixed distance for a period of time such as doing homework or using their smartphone or if their eyes feel dry or tired, they should take a break every 30 to 40 minutes. Alternatively, get them to look out of the window or just shut their eyes for about five to 10 minutes to let the eye muscles relax.
2. Spend More Time Outdoors
When your kids are outdoors, the time spent on near-work activities is naturally reduced. They’ll also be looking at things from a distance – six metres and beyond – helping their eye muscles to relax as well.
3. Have A Balanced Diet
Introduce your little ones to colourful fruits and vegetables like broccoli, carrots and tomatoes. These are high in beta-carotene, which converts into Vitamin A and helps maintain retinal health.
4. Don’t Read In The Dark
Ensure that there’s sufficient lighting by installing an anti-glare task lamp to provide light in the areas where your child does near-work such as doing homework so as not to strain their eyes, says Dr Chia.
5. Don’t Wear Contacts If They Can’t Use Them Properly
Good contact lens hygiene is essential for preventing infections or allergies – which kids are at the risk of when wearing contacts. As young children are unlikely to be able to care for their lenses properly, the use of contact lenses for young children is therefore, not recommended.
Originally published in “Myopia Myths Dispelled”, in Singapore’s Child October 2014.