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Exclusive: Doctor Shares How Parents Can Reduce Screen Time For Kids to Counter Myopia Risk

Lifestyle choices are one of the primary factors that can affect your child's visual health. It goes beyond doubt that the increase in the usage of the digital devices have impacted children in a large way. Staring at the screen of the mobile phones, tablets and even television for prolonged hours can have a negative impact on the eyes of your kids and if goes untreated might eventually expose them to the risk of myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness.

This is the primary reason why doctors are noticing an upsurge in myopia cases in children at a very young age, where children complain of blurred vision, squint or strained eyes.

In an exclusive conversation with OneIndia Boldsky, Dr. Vidhya. C, Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Dept, Sankara Eye Hospitals, Bangalore shares with us how parents should chip in to reduce the screen time for kids to cut down the Myopia risk.

To understand the impact of Myopia on children's visual health, first we need to understand what this medical condition is all about.

What Is Myopia?

Myopia is a common vision condition in which a person can see close objects clearly, but the objects that are farther away appear blurred. This causes symptoms like blurry vision when looking at distant objects, squinting of the eyes, and headaches caused by eye strain.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), myopia and high myopia will affect 52% (4949 million) and 10.0% (925 milion), respectively, of the world's population by 2050.

myopia

What Causes Myopia In Children?

Dr. Vidhya says that, "the causes of myopia in children are the generation gap that is one of the main reasons for the rise of myopia in kids. Earlier, the usage of gadgets were lower as compared to nowadays generation".

"Certain lifestyle changes like children staying indoors and parents give their children smartphones just to control them and make them sit in one place. This leads to changes in behavior, social character and children become more introvert".

She further adds, "at least 70% of children have a risk of developing myopia because pre-school children spend most of their time on gadgets . Especially, 3-year-old children, have -4, -5, -6 eye power which is actually bad and increases with the growth of children. There is a misconception among parents that television is harmful than gadgets, but it's actually the near vision gadgets that are deemed more harmful".

Reading too closely and the lack of time spent outdoors playing increase the progression of developing myopia, she says.

Here's how two responsible parents are saving their children's eyes from the Myopia risk-

A teacher at St. Agnes School in Kharagpur, Swagata Patra Kar (32) shared with OneIndia Boldsky, how like most kids these days her child, Ritayan, was also addicted to mobile phones.

"My 6-y ear-old son was really addicted to TV and smartphones and that was a huge concern for us as a parent. Even though we filtered the content for him, we had to almost drag him away from the devices so that he doesn't damage his eyes. Due to this, he was losing interest in his studies and had concentration issues as well. As a parent, it is our responsibility to spend quality time with our children and insist them to play outdoor games," she said.

"Giving away to the whims and fancies of children doesn't mean you love them. If you truly care about them, then choose what's best for their health," added Swagata.

Speaking along the same lines, Satabdi Biswas (30) who works at TCS, Kolkata and is a mother of a 3-year-old daughter tells us, "We monitor the time, Akasha (her daughter) spends on w atching videos on mobile phones or watching TV. I and my husband are working, but we ensure that we have enough family time. She spends most of her time at daycare with other children

playing outside. We allow hardly one hour of screen time to our child."

What Are The Complications Of Myopia [1]

  • Quality of life is reduced
  • Eyestrain or squinting
  • Impaired safety
  • Other eye problems like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and myopic maculopathy

If your far away distance is blurry, the quality of your vision is lowered, flashes of light in one or both eyes, consult an eye doctor immediately.

Diagnosis Of Myopia

The diagnosis of myopia is a basic eye examination, which includes a refraction assessment and an eye health examination. The doctor might use various instruments and ask you to look through several lenses to check your close distance and far distance.

Dr. Vidhya also said , "Eyeglasses help to prevent the progression of myopia and special contact lenses can be used for the treatment of myopia as well.".

Other treatment options include refracted surgery that reduces the requirement for contact lenses and eyeglasses:

  • Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) - The surgeon makes a thin, hinged flap into your cornea and then uses a laser to remove inner layers of your cornea to flatten the shape.
  • Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK) - The surgeon makes an ultra-thin flap in the cornea's outer protective cover (epithelium). After which a laser is used to reshape the cornea's outer layers, flattening its curve, and replacing the epithelium.
  • Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) - This procedure is almost similar to laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK). But, there is an exception the surgeon removes the epithelium and then uses the laser to reshape the cornea.

Dr. Vidhya has also shared some tips for parents and children for reducing the screen time in kids and ensuring a better quality of life:

  • Eat healthy foods, include plenty of vegetables and fruits into your diet.
  • Watch television from at a far distance for at least 11/2 hour, especially for children.
  • Stop using gadgets for a longer period of time
  • Spending time outdoors will decrease myopia risk.
  • Children need to be screened before 3 years of age by a opthalmologist or pediatrician.
View Article References
  1. [1] Holden, B. A., Wilson, D. A., Jong, M., Sankaridurg, P., Fricke, T. R., Smith, E. L., III, & Resnikoff, S. (2015). Myopia: a growing global problem with sight-threatening complications.Community eye health,28(90), 35.

Story first published: Saturday, July 20, 2019, 10:00 [IST]
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