Features September 2020

Protecting Your Children’s Eyes

Eye care is vital for kids & parents alike. Did you know it has been estimated that by the year 2050, half of the world’s population will be myopic? Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a condition where someone has difficulty seeing objects at a distance. The condition has been growing rapidly in children for years, and it increases the risk for other serious eye diseases in adulthood.

The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) is a group of companies and health care associations formed to raise public awareness of childhood myopia, one of the major public health challenges of our time. In a recent study by GMAC, one-third of parents said they were unfamiliar with myopia, and the coalition aims to change that.

Many parents surveyed also reported an increase in screen time for their family since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which can put a strain on everyone’s eyes. 44 percent of parents said their children spend four hours or more on electronic devices each day — including television or handheld devices, completing schoolwork on a computer or playing video games. This increased screen time means a greater risk of developing conditions such as myopia.

If you’re concerned about your child’s screen time and want to prevent eye problems now or in the future, here are some recommended actions.

Get to an eye doctor – even virtually if you can

It is important for children to visit the eye doctor regularly for a comprehensive eye exam, as school screenings can miss up to 75% of children’s vision issues like myopia. Parents should also be asking about new myopia treatment options – outside of conventional glasses or contacts – that may help slow the risk of the progression of myopia.

Limit screen time and take breaks to get outside

As difficult as it is in today’s environment, try to limit screen time for your children and
schedule regular breaks for them to get outside or move around. Aim to have children take breaks from their screens every 20-30 minutes. Spending time being physically active and outside is healthy for not only your eyes, but your whole body.

As schools continue to transition to virtual learning, some screen time will be inevitable. In fact, 67% of the parents GMAC surveyed said their kids are spending more time accessing e-learning tools. Do your best to find a balance that works for your family, in order to protect your children’s vision and set them up for success.

To see additional tips for getting creative in protecting your children’s eyes, search #GameOverMyopia on social media.

By: Global Myopia Awareness Coalition

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