Healthy Lifestyle & Myopia
Article by: Sam Neo | Optometrist | Nanyang Optical @ Jurong Point
Singapore has one of the highest rate of myopia in the world. As we are now leading a digital lifestyle, it is not surprising that myopia develops at a young age. This puts myopic individuals at a higher risk of developing other complications such as glaucoma and retinal detachment later on in life.
It is therefore important to protect our eyes from young. You might be surprised that by adjusting some lifestyle habits, you can play a part in delaying the onset or even slow down the progression of your child's myopia!
Promoting outdoor time
Outdoor activities are beneficial to boost the immunity of a child, and natural sunlight provides us with vitamin D which is essential for body functions. However, do you know that spending time outdoors can also help to slow down progression of myopia?
Studies has shown that sunlight helps the release of a chemical in the eye - dopamine, which can prevent the elongation of the eye. Therefore, it is recommended that a child spends an average of 2 - 3 hours daily outdoors.
It is important to ensure that the child is doing his/her activities in a well-lit yet non-glaring environment. Reading or looking at digital devices in a dark room can cause discomfort, leading to poor concentration because the eyes are constantly adjusting between different intensities of brightness (i.e. the brightness of a screen and the dim surroundings).
If additional lighting is used during reading, it is also important to ensure that the light are positioned to shine directly onto the page and not over the shoulder to avoid glare.
Reducing time spent on near work
Parents are advised to limit the time a child spends on near tasks such as reading and writing, as well as usage of digital devices. Children are encouraged to take regular visual breaks (5 minutes break every 2- minutes of near work) to relax the eyes.
Taking a break after continuous near work by going for a walk or looking at distant objects out of the windows can also help to relax the eye muscles.
Proper Working Distance
The child should be seated at an appropriate distance from the desired object. When it comes to reading, we would recommend a distance of approximately 30cm away from the book. For computer and/or any digital devices, ensure that they are positioned at a distance of 50cm. When the child is watching television, an ideal distance would be 3 meters away.
Parents should encourage your child to sit upright when reading or watching television. The eyes will focus at an awkward angle, leading to eye strain and fatigue if the child is reading or watching television while lying down or in a moving vehicle.
Healthy Food Choices for the Eyes
A balanced diet is essential in keeping the eyes health. A balanced diet should include:
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin which are important antioxidants to protect the tissues in the eyes from damages.
- Fish produce such as salmon, tuna and other oily fishes are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which can combat against dry eyes
- Eggs, nuts, beans also contain lutein and omega 3 fatty acid.
- Citrus fruits and berries are loaded with Vitamin C which boosts the child's immunity and also help to delay degeneration in the eyes.
- Meat such as beef contains zinc which plays a role in delaying diseases such as macular degeneration.
By cultivating good eating habits accompanied with a healthy lifestyle, we can combat myopia. It is recommended that your child does an eye examination every 6 months to a year to monitor on possible refractive changes or myopia progression.
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